Karpman Triangle or Christian Allegory?

I recently read a post talking about “Karpman’s drama triangle” – a theory that story characters arrange themselves into Hero, Victim, or Villain roles – and how this had a negative effect on stories and society. (It’s under Point 8.)

The post writer suggested making sure all characters had “agency” – or meaningful choice – within the story. This is important, as far as it goes…personal responsibility for actions is very important.

However, when I first heard her explain “Karpman’s drama triangle”, I said to myself, “Isn’t that exactly what we see in the Bible? Don’t stories follow this pattern so often because we’re resonating with the eternal story of creation?”

The Triangle of History

This triangle, as I understood it, talked about how someone would require rescuing, so someone else would rise to rescue him.

This is what we see in the Bible.Karpman Triangle or Christian Allegory? — Kimia Wood

We are in trouble. Deep trouble. Classic damsel-in-distress type stuff.

We (humanity) were born into a perfect world…but then the Villain struck! Yep – us, again.

(I didn’t say “Satan”, because that gives him too much cred. The world didn’t break because Satan disobeyed God…the whole universe broke because Adam disobeyed God! Thanks, Great-Granddad…)

So here we are (each individual human being), playing the Villain role (taking up arms against God and hurting things wherever we go) and the Victim role (hurting ourselves at every turn, and totally helpless to fix ourselves).

There’s nothing we can do to change this state of affairs. Nada. Trust me, humans have been trying for thousands upon thousands of years. We can’t patch up our relationship with God, and we can’t free ourselves from our own evil desires…just like addiction.

The whole human race is addicted to badness.

Enter: the Hero! Jesus. Son of God. Totally awesome, Lawful Good, and kick-butt (can I say that?!).

He humbled Himself, went through the famous “Dark Night of the Soul“, all that classic Hero stuff…literally died. Was dead for three days.

Then? Happily ever after! Jesus kicked death in the face and came alive again!

With the “dragon” slain, the “prince” “rode up on his horse” and asked the “damsel” if she would marry him!

So…will you say “I do”?

It’s not just the overarching story of salvation, either.

God cares about individual widows, too. Check out Deuteronomy 14 (yes Deuteronomy):

God is telling Israel about tithing – giving a tenth of your grain, your fruit, your wine, your produce to God so you remember that He gave you everything.

Then God tells them, every three years pile the tithe food in the middle of the city and let the widows, orphans, and foreigners (with no land inheritance, family network, etc.) eat their fill from it (Deut. 14:28-29).

See? Yes, God cares about rescuing his Church (Bride)…but He also cares about the “helpless” widows and orphans – the “victims” of unavoidable tragedy who don’t have the resources to help themselves.

He cares, and that’s why He commands His people to act as “heroes” in His name, extending aid to those worse off than ourselves.

Want an example from the New Testament? How about James 1:27? James’ theme is that talking the talk is worthless unless you walk the walk. (You say you believe in God? Super. The demons believe the same thing – and have the sense to be afraid of Him! Js. 2:19.)

That’s why James points out that God wants us to act out the faith we say we have by: being a “hero” to the “helpless”…the weak, tired, and alone. The “victims” of this sin-scorched world. (The “villain” being: ourselves again.)

Back to the Psychologists

Karpman wasn’t talking about God, though. He was a psychologist, trying to explain human relationships and human behavior through “Science!”.

And he’s right about one thing. When human beings try to mimic the role of God (Hero), we mess even that up.

Karpman and his friends called it things like “encouraging dependency”, “ignoring their own problems by focusing on helping others”, “taking advantage of the rescuer”, “perpetuating the victim’s feelings of helplessness”, and other things.

All of which is trying to turn something organic (a relationship) into something algorithmic (turning human interactions into a series of equations – which they’re not).

I think the Bible says it all much more succinctly:

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food…she took some and ate, and gave to her husband, and he ate. And the eyes of both were opened, and they saw that they were naked. (Gen. 3: 6-7)

There is none righteous – no, not one! No one understands…no one seeks for God! (Rom. 3: 10-11)

For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace which is ours in Christ Jesus! (see Rom. 3: 21-24)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth… (Rev. 21: 1)

Back to the Story Authors

Karpman Triange or Christian Allegory? — Kimia Wood

I think I’ve figured out why I get all swoony over the Master Chief and Zavala. Because they are quintessential heroes – the definitive “good guys” – and in that way they mimic my own dear King Jesus.

So, I will proudly write stories about heroes rescuing…people who need rescuing. But I agree with the original poster that “character agency” is also very important.

After all, we got ourselves in this mess. No sneaky Devil forced us off the cliff of our own desires! We raced there all on our own, because we wanted what we couldn’t possibly have: to be God.

It also makes sense that Character Agency is important because God gave it to us! When a story denies characters agency, or denies them the reality of making bad choices or choices that matter, the story falls flat…because we instinctively know it doesn’t line up with our real experiences.

God doesn’t let us write the story, though. He is the Author of this interactive, choose-your-own-adventure we call “life”! We participate, but only within the bounds that He allows (Job 1:12, 2:6).

And this is where the sovereignty of God (fancy, church-word for “God’s the boss-man”) and free-will (not-so-fancy church-word for “we get a choice”) come together and hug and all the theologians go, “But I thought you two weren’t speaking to each other!”

Yes – God is totally in charge. AND – yes, each individual human being gets a choice in how their life will go.

How does that work? God hasn’t explained in detail…probably because our brains would explode if we tried to understand.

Just trust God that it works.

And keep trying to write stories and show how FULLY AWESOME He is…because that’s what it’s all about, m’kay?


Karpman Triangle or Christian Allegory? — Kimia WoodKimia Wood currently lives somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure Soldier, plus periodic updates on her latest reading and writing exploits!

“Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder

"Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder — Kimia Wood As Mr. Snyder says in his prologue, “Why do we need another book about writing?” Apparently even in 2005 when he first published Save the Cat, you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting an eager, helpful guru determined to instruct young writer hopefuls in his way to plot, write, and sell.

So what makes Save the Cat any different, and why has it taken the industry by storm to be required reading for newbies and professionals alike?

I decided it was time to buy it and find out. Continue reading

“The Collins Case” by Julie C. Gilbert

"The Collins Case" by Julie C. Gilbert — Kimia Wood — Christian Despite having a “Mystery/Thriller” cover and blurb, this book is actually a “Christian/Inspirational” story. If I had known better what to expect, and if the pacing had moved faster, I might have enjoyed this much more.

Slow Start

The story is ham-strung from the very beginning, where for the first chapter and a half, the only conflict is that Rachel Collins is unequally yoked – married to an unbeliever.

The scenes of the “happy little family” living their lives and unaware of the calamity awaiting them is a classic writer move to get readers to connect to the characters. Unfortunately, I had recently read the blurb and knew they got kidnapped – and I was aware of the author-ly tricks at work – and so was very un-invested.

If I was advising the author, I would suggest beginning with Mr. Collins coming home and discovering melted groceries on the counter, his wife’s car in the garage, her phone on the counter, and his family nowhere to be found. (This scene already exists, but is sapped of tension since we’ve already witnessed his family be snatched.) This kind of scenario is visceral enough to connect with readers without the lead-up…a lead-up that lost me before the plot even began. Continue reading

Apocalyptic Stories – How, What, and Who

Apocalyptic Stories – How, What, and Who — Kimia Wood

Published in connection with the Indie Author e-Con 2018. Find more here

When you enter “post-apocalyptic” into Amazon’s search bar, you get lots of things. 30,000 results, to be exact.

But hey, there’s always room for one more version of civilization’s death throes, right? What if you want to craft your own apocalypse tale? Where do you need to start?

When eating an elephant or an apocalypse, start with one bite at a time. Continue reading

Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt 2018—Stop #9

Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt 2018—Stop #9 — Kimia WoodTo celebrate independent Christian authors and the different genres in fiction with the Indie e-Con 2018, please join me in welcoming author Laurie Lucking to the blog!


Hi everyone! Thank you so much to Kimia Wood for hosting me today, and to Kendra E. Ardnek for organizing the 2018 Indie e-Con – I’m thrilled to be a part of it!

Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt Stop #9 — Kimia WoodI’m Laurie Lucking, and my writing journey really started with reading. I’ve always adored books, but after creative writing assignments in school went poorly, I decided I wasn’t cut out to be a writer. Instead, I continued reading voraciously and eventually went to law school. But after working as an attorney for several years, my husband and I had our first child, and I became a stay-at-home mom.

After a few months at home with our infant, I found myself in desperate need of a project. The thought “You could write a book” just wouldn’t go away, no matter how many times I reminded myself I wasn’t good at creative writing. So, glancing over my shoulder to make sure no one was watching, I dug out my laptop, opened a blank Word document, and wrote a scene. And LOVED it! Getting to write the story I wanted, at whatever pace I was comfortable with, was such a different experience from school, and soon I couldn’t type fast enough to spill out the characters and landscapes crowding my head.

After many months, those scenes became a young adult fantasy novel, complete with thousands of weasel words, tons of mid-scene point of view changes, and creative dialogue tags a-plenty. But I figured it might be publishable, considering I was a relatively intelligent person and had read a lot of books. (You have my permission to laugh all you want – believe me, I know better now!) I went through several re-writes as rejections trickled in with little nuggets of feedback, but eventually I determined it wasn’t meant to be. I set that manuscript aside with a heavy heart, but fortunately by then a new story was brewing.

Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt 2018—Stop #9 — Kimia WoodThis time around, I had more going for me. I had a wonderful critique group, was meeting monthly with a group of writers, and had attended several writing conferences. The new manuscript still needed many rounds of revisions, but my voice was starting to develop and I was breaking far less writing “rules” than before. But while I was continuing to write young adult fantasy, this story had a Christian thread to it, which I knew would limit my publishing options. Thankfully, I learned of a conference called Realm Makers, which is specifically geared toward Christian writers of speculative fiction. I was able to attend in July, 2016, and pitched my story to several agents and editors. One editor clearly connected with my story right away, and soon she was considering my full manuscript. In early 2017, I signed a contract with Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, a small publisher focusing on Christian and clean speculative fiction. And I couldn’t be happier! My debut novel, Common, released this past February, and in March I published a short story titled “Threshold” in the Mythical Doorways anthology put together by the Fellowship of Fantasy. I also have several other stories in the works, including at least two more books in my “Tales of the Mystics” series.

My author brand has become “Fantasy Adventure, Fairy Tale Romance,” which I think describes my writing very well. I love taking inspiration from fairy tales and other classic stories, and everything I write has a blend of fantasy and clean romance. If you want to know more, check out my website, www.laurielucking.com. Also, if you enjoy young adult fantasy and/or science fiction, make sure to stop by my group blog, www.landsuncharted.com. Thanks for reading!


Thank you for stopping by, Mrs. Laurie, and for reminding us all that we don’t start out knowing it all! (And it’s okay to learn as you go!) 😉

Guess what? I’m next on the scavenger trail! Find my post here, courtesy of Kyle Robert Shultz!

For the rest of the scavenger hunt, find the full list of participating blogs right here, or visit this link to start from the beginning!Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt 2018—Stop #9 — Kimia Wood

Don’t forget to enter the Scavenger Hunt giveaway, where you could win:

Ace Carroway 2-Book Set
3 random ebooks from Indie e-Con authors
Cover Design by Alea Harper
Bookshelf Necklace donated by Rachel Rossano

(Please note that the Ace Carroway Paperbacks and the Bookshelf necklace are US only.)

“Kate’s Innocence” by Sarah Holman

"Kate's Innocence" by Sarah Holman — Kimia Wood — innocence Can Kate prove she didn’t bomb her college campus? Can FBI agent Patrick trust God to reveal the truth as he tries to clear Kate?

For this indie Christian book, I’m going to front-load all my complaints, and then focus on what I liked.

That way, it’s like struggling to remove the sticky wax-paper wrapper on a chocolate toffee, then getting to eat the toffee! (I’m sure lots of people compare my reviews to chocolate toffee…) Continue reading

The Writer’s Vicious Cycle

A brand-new author on the block–
Trying to learn ’bout this “marketing” talk.

She follows the people who seem to know;
They say, “Do like me! Now, GO, GO, GO!”

Except, they’re all talking ’bout “author marketing”,
So she ends up talking to authors marketing.

The Writer's Vicious Cycle — Kimia Wood

Image credit: torrilynn@hubpages

And the readers are stuck with their SPAM and eggs
(When they’d rather be blowing up castles and Dregs).

They think that my book (titled Sons of the King)
Is all like “How TWITTER Can Get You the BLING!”

The Auto-DM allows no escape;
We’re firmly wound up, like with clear packing tape.

What’s my Theme? What’s my Brand? I must find my own Style!
(Oh, well; another post for the “Didn’t Work” pile.)

My genre is novels! But which Fiction shelf?
I just couldn’t find one that quite matched myself.

The Writer's Vicious Cycle — Kimia WoodSo I pushed some books over, down here on the end,
And scribbled my name there — Mark will understand.


Kimia Wood currently lives somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by baking, knitting, blogging, writing…and other excuses for not gardening.

Subscribe to the mailing list for a FREE copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure Soldier.

The Huge Crisis for Christian Romance

The Huge Crisis for Christian Romance

There’s something rotten in Christian fiction. Personally, a romance in a book has to work pretty hard to impress me, but I want to specifically address the authors who claim the name of Christ publicly while including romance in their fiction.

Romance itself is not bad or disrespectful to God; evidence: Ruth, Genesis 24, Ephesians 5 (vs. 25), etc. I’m looking at a few specific issues I’ve noticed in some recent Christian romance novels that I think every sincere follower of the Lord Jesus Christ needs to take seriously. Continue reading

Why Are Bad Book Reviews So Important?

Why Are Bad Book Reviews So Important?

Some people on the internet refuse to write or publish “negative” book reviews. They claim the writing world is a community, that every book took a lot of effort and tears from its author, and to “support” each other, we shouldn’t air our concerns or disappointments with another’s work.

The problem with that is that this community is about more than patting each other on the back, or smiling politely at something we think is sub-par. And we’re more than just writers – the readers who consume our work have a right to receive the best possible product we as writers can supply!

How do “bad book reviews” serve that purpose? Let’s break it down by who is benefitted by critical reviews: the reader, and the author. Continue reading

Why MacGyver’s Terror of Guns is Silly

Why MacGyver’s Terror of Guns is Silly

Season 4, Episode 2, of MacGyver is a story called “Blood Brothers” where MacGyver protects two teens from drug dealers while experiencing flash-backs of the childhood tragedy that set him against guns and handguns. From Wikipedia:

Back in his childhood home town, MacGyver is haunted by memories of his youth where a friend was killed by a gun while preventing his friend’s son from using a gun to defend himself against hoodlums.

While the episode works very hard to evoke a specific emotional response, and while it explains MacGyver’s phobia of guns, the moral it tries to convey (“When are they going to do something about guns?“) doesn’t apply – not in our modern day of 2017.

(Note in passing: after all the times MacGyver blows up Murdoc, or drops him in acid, or knocks him off cliffs, or drops buildings on him, etc., Mac’s aversion to firearms seems a rather weak stance.)

Back to the specific episode, I shall break down the specific issues point by point.

* * SPOILERS * * Continue reading