Why Should Christians Write Fiction? (Part One)

The Power of Story

Sometimes when I tell people in Christian circles that I’m a writer, they smile at me and reply, “That’s good. We need more good articles.” Their faces go from interested to shocked when I calmly explain that I write books. Not doctrinal, nonfiction books, but fiction books. They don’t know how to react.

It is ironic how the same people that decry the lack of good literature for their children don’t do anything about it. Nor do they understand when anyone else does something about it. Writing fiction is somehow…lower. It isn’t the worthy calling that writing nonfiction is.

Except that this idea isn’t true. Fiction writers are just as necessary as nonfiction writers. Because the Story format is important to convey empathy and characters in a way nonfiction articles struggle to do.

Look at the Bible for example. We talk about Bible stories. Most of the Bible is written in a story format. Even books like the Psalms or Ephesians, or any of Paul’s letters have the back story contained in the rest of the Bible. Would Psalm 51 have as much power if we didn’t know the story of David’s sin with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah?

Think of some of the phrases we learn as children. Dare to be a Daniel. Have faith like Father Abraham. Would these phrases even have meaning if we’d been told about Daniel in a factual lecture instead of as a story? As children, we learn about courage from the stories about Daniel or Joshua. We see the self-sacrifice that faith demands from the story of Abraham. We see the consequences of sin in the lives of many of the saints.

We learn through stories, through stepping into someone else’s shoes and walking with them for a while. We learn by the examples we see in stories better than we do through simply being told this is how you should live.

All those Bible stories are true, and perhaps the argument could then be made that Christians should only write nonfiction stories about real people and places. Except that Jesus himself told fiction stories. Jesus’ parables weren’t stories based on people that actually lived. They were fiction.

Fiction can be just as powerful as true stories at digging at a deeper meaning. In fiction, an author puts the reader inside another person’s head. The reader becomes that person, feeling their emotions, understanding their fears, desires, and dreams. Through reading, we learn empathy for others. We learn to see the pain that others who aren’t like us carry.

Stories can also shine the light on ourselves. In the Bible, Nathan the prophet didn’t get in David’s face when he confronted David about his sin. Nathan told a fictional story. David sympathized with the wronged man in the story, only to realize at the end that the bad guy in the story was him. It shook him in a way that nothing else could. That story had power.

What Bible stories hold the most power for you? Why does that story strike you?

You Know You’re a Writer if…

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I can’t take credit for this list. I found it on the blog of Kaye Dacus, a Christian Fiction writer who writes historical and contemporary Christian romances. Her Ransome trilogy is my favorite of hers so far (seriously, Regency, British navy, and pirates, what isn’t there to love?).

I loved these so much I thought I’d share some of my favorites:

You know you are a writer if…

  • Some of the letters on your keyboard are completely worn off.
  • You would rather write than go out.
  • Your/you’re and their/there/they’re errors send you into an apoplectic fit.
  • You get cranky if you don’t get to write.
  • You’ve ever said, “The voices are getting louder; I must go write.”
  • In the middle of the night, you grab the pen and paper you keep next to your bed to write down a scene to make the voices be quiet so you can get some sleep.
  • Getting the scene finished is more important than food, coffee, or the bathroom.
  • A blank wall becomes the screen where the scene you’re writing takes place right in front of your eyes.
  • You can’t write because you’re mad at one of your characters.
  • You argue with said character.
  • The “sermon notes” section of the Sunday morning bulletin comes home every week filled in with ideas or scenes for your WIP.
  • You–hold on, I have to check my e-mail . . .
  • You do everything you can think of to procrastinate from writing, then turn the light on in the middle of the night and furtively write a few hundred words because you feel guilty for not writing.
  • You can predict the next line or conflict in just about every TV show/movie you watch.
  • You don’t meet “new friends”; you meet “potential characters.”
  • You stay in bed ten minutes after you wake up structuring the details of your dream into a novel synopsis, complete with character descriptions, setting, and costumes.
  • You spend more on “writing stuff” every year than you do on groceries and gas combined.
  • You’re never bored, because your characters are always there to entertain you.
  • You aren’t concerned when someone else talks about “the voices” not leaving them alone—in fact, you ask them about their voices and tell them about your own.
  • You know more than ten verbs to describe the way someone walked into the room.
  • Poorly written novels make you bipolar—elated knowing that you’re a better writer, and depressed because that hack got published and you can’t get past the acquisitions editor.
  • It takes you forever to send a text message on your cell phone because it has to be properly spelled and punctuated.
  • When given an essay/paper assignment in school with a ten-page length requirement, the professor turns and looks at you and says, “That means ONLY ten pages!” Your response is, “Is eight-point font okay?”
  • You live in a constant state of “What if?”
  • You see a hand-drawn employee appreciation poster at the grocery store with one word misspelled and have to avert your eyes every time you walk past it to keep from attacking it with a red Sharpie.
  • Staring off into space with a glazed look in your eyes is considered “working.”
  • You are automatically drawn to the display of journals and fancy notepads/notebooks on the bargain table at every bookstore you enter. And you buy at least two, because you don’t have any in that style yet, even though you have at least fifteen or twenty sitting at home unused.
  • You go into mourning when you kill off a character . . . even if the character deserved to die.
  • You know that “Which of your books is your favorite?” is the second worst question you can be asked. The worst is “Which of your characters is your favorite?”
  • You can never “clear your mind.”
  • You’ve figured out how to write while driving. And have actually missed your exit/turn because you’re so absorbed in your own story.
  • You pat the lid of your laptop after you close it. (Bonus points if you mutter, “Good girl/boy” while patting.)
  • At parties, some people snoop in the medicine cabinet. You sneak peeks at the bookshelves.
  • You read a list of “you know you’re a writer if…” statements and think of twenty others not covered.

Aren’t these awesome! There were so many that Kaye Dacus compiled that I didn’t include them all. There were just my favorites (and no, I’m not going to admit how many I do on a regular basis. If you’re a writer, you can probably guess without being told).

Which ones are your favorite? Did you think of any “You Know You’re a Writer if…” statements to add?

And, lastly, congratulations to Miquel, the winner of the A Time to Die giveaway! You should have received an email this morning. If you didn’t, please contact me. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Push Your Boulder Up that Hill

In Greek mythology, the king Sisyphus was punished by having to eternally push a boulder up a hill. When he reached the top, the boulder rolled to the bottom and he had to push it up once again. Over and over and over again.

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Sometimes writing feels like that. We start our book rolling, struggling through those first couple of chapters to overcome inertia, the forces (whether they are doubt or our struggles with beginnings) that hold us back. We build momentum, rolling along at a good clip, until we get stuck. We’ve pushed our boulder into a dead end. We have to let it roll partway back down the hill in order to pick a new path.

Still we push on. We grind out that word count, plugging away at whatever goal we set for our self that day. Finally, after months or years or decades, we push that boulder the last step. We cheer. We collapse on the ground. We actually visit our friends and family and smile because we have time, glorious time.

Only to realize that sometime during our celebrating, our boulder rolled back down the hill. We need to start the process all over again, whether it is editing or starting the next book.

Somehow it isn’t any easier pushing that boulder up the hill than it was the first time. The beautiful momentum we’d built those last few yards to the top is all gone. Inertia is just as terrible. We moan in despair. We can’t believe we are putting ourselves through this again.

That’s us writers. We are a little bit insane. We’ve gone crazy a few times.

But this isn’t our punishment. It is our blessing. We have a gift not everyone has. Few people have the muscles or the perseverance to push the boulder of a book all the way to the finish. Even less do it again and again.

Today I started book three of my Blades of Acktar series today. It is overwhelming starting at the bottom once again, staring at the mountain of words I need to type. But I’ll get there. I’ve done this twice before. I can do it again.

What project are you working on? Where are you at in your book?

Also, I am giving away a copy of Nadine Brandes’ new release A Time to Die. Enter the giveaway here.

Big News! Time to Celebrate!

For the past month, I’ve had some big news that I’ve been waiting to share. A month ago, I learned that the talented Nadine Brandes has agreed to professionally edit Dare! 

Nadine Brandes’ first book A Time to Die released earlier this month in ebook and paperback. You might remember seeing my blog post If I Had One Year to Live as part of her blog tour.

I stumbled onto Nadine Brandes almost by accident. I had recently read Jill Williamson’s By Darkness Hid. It was both fantasy and Christian, a combination I hadn’t seen often. I looked up the publisher: Marcher Lord Press.

I quickly learned that Marcher Lord Press had recently changed its name to Enclave Publishing, a publisher focusing exclusively on Christian speculative fiction. I browsed their list of books, reading the blurbs about each of the books and visiting each of the author websites. I also read through Enclave Publishing’s blog and came across a guest post by Nadine Brandes. I followed the link to her blog, and I guess the rest is history.

After visiting her blog obsessively and waiting eagerly for her book to release, I finally gathered my courage to see if she would edit my book as part of her editing services. And she chose my book to fit into her busy schedule! Mine!

To celebrate both this opportunity and the release of Nadine’s book, I’m giving away either a paperback or ebook copy of her new book A Time to Die. Just follow the directions below! The winner will be announced on October 17!

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