“I’m fine.”

These are two of my least favorite words in the Christian fiction I’ve been reading lately.

A diabetic forensic scientist hasn’t eaten in 12 hours. “I’m fine.”

A former Special Ops soldier-turned detective hasn’t slept in 48 hours. “I’m fine.”

The strong-but-silent, uber-tough cop struggles with over-protecting the homeless woman he’s coming to love. “I’m fine.”

The stunning detective is at the crime scene for hours in her high heels. “I’m fine.”

The beautiful cop is captured and nearly killed by a psychopath. “I’m fine.”

Really? Nobody in those scenarios is “fine.” Each one is traumatized in some way or needs medical attention or even a visit to a counselor. None of them, however, are “fine.”

I realize that being “fine” ups the drama, ratchets the suspense, makes the characters vulnerable—all that good stuff that makes a novel a page-turner and, hopefully, a bestseller. But are the authors really obtuse enough to make their characters “fine” and let them go forward and really be fine, as if nothing at all had happened?

Recently I attended the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference. A woman there wore a shirt that said “I’m fine.” I began having a small fit until I saw the huge, gaping, bloody wound pictured below those two annoying words. I laughed instead, getting the humor (and the pathos) of that shirt.

We love to say “I’m fine” when people ask, while inside we’re a mess. I understand why we do so, and do it myself. But there is good reason to share our struggles and worries with friends who care and with those who can help us. It’s healthy and healing to do so. That’s real life.

Using those two words constantly as devices to drag on a novel’s emotional drama? I’m not fine with that.

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