I decided to discuss something that everyone I know considers an essential element in relationships, and that's trust. Since most of our books are about relationships—whether they’re romance, fantasy, mysteries, westerns, women’s fiction, or whatever—trust is important to both readers and writers.
As a reader, I choose a genre based on what type of mood I’m in. If I want rugged adventure with a romantic element, I’ll pick up a western, trusting that the good guy will always win. When I want to have a book grab my heart so I can swoon as I turn the pages, I choose a romance novel, trusting that the author will take me on an adventure that will end up with the hero and heroine ultimately getting together after overcoming whatever obstacles their conflict created. Of course, it’s the author’s job to make me worry, but with genre fiction, I have a safety net that gives me that “Ah!” moment at the end.
As a writer, I get to know my characters before I write the first word of my story. This is a necessary step in my process so I can have every action and discussion clearly motivated by something that makes sense. Only after I know who my characters are and what motivates them can I write my plot outline that shows the conflict and character growth. The details will probably change while I write the book, but it’s nice to have some direction to keep the story on track. I trust my story characters to face their problems and make the necessary changes, and they trust me to keep them in line.
I want my readers to trust me and know that when they pick up one of my books, they’ll have characters who make sense and preferably at least one that they can relate to. Authenticity is important, so I do research when needed, use reality if necessary, and fictionalize what I can without making the book unbelievable. And more important than anything else, I want readers to trust me to tell my stories in a way that acknowledges and respects their Christian beliefs and sensibilities.