Saturday, December 23, 2023

Finding Philemon: Research Required

 One of the best things about being a historical fiction writer is all the research I get to do to build one of my stories. I can honestly say that researching everything for Finding Philemon was a ton of fun. Everything from the character backstories to the weather patterns of the story's origins, from the traditions of the time to clothing that could have been worn. All of this was fascinating to me and it drives my creative process. When I develop an idea for something to write, I tend to get so pulled into the concept that I just can't stop researching it.

There are days when I can spend hours just looking things up in study Bibles and surfing the internet for any theory that could possibly help me develop my story. My goal is always to convey the most realistic story I can. That means learning as much as I can about whatever historical event I want to add to what I write. I have to dig for everything and determine for myself if any of the theories I find are plausible. There are so many that I find though that the plausible truth can be difficult to decipher. This is where I have to take the theories I find and verify them with other sources. 

Finding Philemon is a story that found its framework through multiple places in Scripture; The Book of Acts, The Letter to the Colossians, and The Letter to Philemon. So there was a lot of content to use, but there is much more to the story than what's in those resources. Discovering the geographic and historical connections that tied this story all together was one of the more memorable revelations I came across, and while I believe that most of these connections are concrete there is always room to learn something new. There were multiple occasions when that actually happened and it happened because I had people checking my work every step of the way.

I consider it a humble gift to be able to come up with the stories I want to tell. The challenge is building something that can even remotely come close to depicting what could have actually taken place. When these stories come to life in a way that is actually believable, they speak to me deeply and through God's grace, I can connect the dots in a way that makes that possible. There is so much that we can glean from the research that takes place when, as writers, we can see things the way we do. I love using the analogy of an artist painting a masterpiece of their very own because I really think that is what we do. Every story that comes out of my chaotic mind is a masterpiece in its own right.

This does not mean that I believe everything I created will become a bestseller, while that would be really awesome, it is not why I do what I do. I write because telling stories is what I honestly feel I am called to do. My heart tells me that doing the research required to create the World of Kedoshim, at this time in my life, is what I am meant to do. It is how I can use the gifts I've been given to honor the one who gave them to me and to encourage those who read them with real and honest possibilities. The struggles of life are always going to be there, and if I can encourage even just one other person with a story that is believable and relatable, I will do what it takes to make that happen. Bringing others along for the journey helps me do just that.

Much of what I believe the story, Finding Philemon, brings to the table is this idea that regardless of the choices Onesimus makes along the way, there are those around him doing everything they can to guide him along the way. Whether it be a display of compassionate mercy to an unknown man or holding that same man, once you get to know him, accountable for the choices they've made. All of it comes together into this one cohesive journey that we can all relate to in one way or another. Making sure I bring that out through my research is one of the most important aspects of what I do because by doing so, I can be sure that there is truth in what I've written. There is truth in the message I want to convey to my readers, and it matters.

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received about becoming a writer was to take time to ensure that what you've created is believable and that it speaks to your heart. When a writer can do that, regardless of how many copies get downloaded or purchased, they will know that their stories have meaning and purpose. Sure the purpose of it may not end up helping them earn a million dollars or whatnot, but it can help them see that they, themselves, have meaning and purpose too. It can do the same for anyone who reads what has been painted so beautifully on the pages of a book as well. 

Take this for what it is worth though. Creating a story that blends history and fiction together in a refreshing and relatable way can change someone else's entire perspective in life. It can give the reader that much-needed reminder that there is something worth believing in the chaos of the world we face every day. The resource I use to build my stories just happens to be Scripture. For someone else, regardless of whether or not they are a writer or not, it could be something completely different. Take the time to discover the resources that help you build up to your purpose and calling, and paint your own masterpiece. My canvas is the pages of a story. What is yours?

Thanks again for visiting "The Gathering Room,"


PS (You can find all episodes of Finding Philemon that are currently available to download at this Affiliate Link. You can also follow my author hub, Writing the Journey,  on Facebook.)

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