We all know the classic Disney princess movie trope: girl meets guy, girl likes guy, a villain comes through and separates the two, and then the guy comes riding in on a white horse as the girl’s knight in shining armor. As a little girl, this was the dream. Of course, my dream back then had more to do with the white horse than it did with the knight in shining armor. But the movies I watched as a kid fed my creativity, and caused me to create my version of the classics. Of course, in this case, my knight in shining armor is the person least expected. My villain is complicated, and at the same time, my villain is the victim the heroes are trying to save. My heroes are antiheroes more than they are anything else, and my ‘damsel’ in distress is male.
Character development was honestly my weakest part of the novel. I knew who my characters were, but putting them into words was more difficult than I thought. And coming up with their reactions was even more difficult. I realized that the reason I was having such a difficult time writing my characters was that I didn’t have any goals for the book. My characters weren’t portraying a message for my audience to hear. Everything came out as robotic and monotone. Sitting down to write, I realized that I didn’t even know why I was writing. I was simply writing to write, and contrary to popular belief, that’s not the way to write.
I went to a Catholic, all-girls high school, and our motto was “empowering young women.” At first, I was simply playing off of this. It was a saying that had been pushed into my brain for four years, and it was the easier thing I could think of. My protagonist was Lex, a teenage girl. What better way to find an audience than through empowering teens with faith? From there, the themes became easier. I wanted a story that didn’t fit in the ‘Christian’ box the religious books and movies tended to be in. I wanted a story about love and wrath – a story that portrayed both heaven and hell in a new light. I wanted a story that challenged faith, and not in the cliché ways of modern Christian stories. I wanted a story about an empowered female role model who challenged the boundaries of Christian faith in a new way. And suddenly, the writing began again.
But for the longest time, I had this belief that Lex had to be the hero. She had to win because she was the main character. But I realized that if I set my hero up to fail, it would make the storyline interesting. Who roots for a hero that can’t win? Who roots for a hero whose fate is sealed? Most importantly, how could I get the audience to root for the hero rather than the knight in shining armor?
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice, he judges and wages war.” – Revelation 19:11
I honestly love the book of Revelation. It’s not about the end of times or the goriness of it. It’s not about the action and the wrath; it’s about the victory. Reading the Bible, you get so many different stories. I mean, look at the people God picks in the Old Testament? He picks Abraham, the son of pagans. He chooses Moses, this random baby in the middle of genocide in Egypt (by the way, the Bible tells us that in Egypt the Israelites gave in to their pagan worship practices). He chooses David, the youngest of 8 children in the small town of Bethlehem. In the words of my history of Israel professor, Bethlehem wouldn’t have even had a stoplight.
Time and time again, God chooses the least likely to succeed. I mean, Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah. In Genesis 38, the tribe of Judah was founded on prostitution and incest of sorts (look up Judah and Tamar in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1). Each time, the underdog prevails with divine intervention. And finally, in the book of Revelation, we get a glimpse of how the victory of the cross played out on a spiritual level. Most importantly, there is a knight in shining armor riding in on his white horse. Every girl dreams of being swept off her feet, but I think we often miss the knight and his white horse. The greatest, and truest, tale of heroes and villains is all recorded here. The knight in shining armor is leading an army on horseback for humanity. There is no better hero than this.
Holding Out For A Hero by Bonnie Tyler
“Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast,
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure, and it’s gotta be soon,
And he’s gotta be larger than life.””If Jordan above me shall roll
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait
The sky, not the grave, is our goal”