Writing fiction for Christians of all ages

First, have a Bible-based theme and purpose clearly in mind. For example, three of my novels focused on Romans 8:28: “For we know that all things work together for good for those who love God.” Each time I used that theme, the stories differed, but my purpose remained the same: to help strengthen the faith of readers and draw them closer to God.

Together your theme and purpose make a thesis statement that you can use later in your book proposal and back jacket blurb. As you write and revise fiction, your thesis statement will also help you to point your story or novel toward a credible ending while developing characters who care enough to act for and against your story theme.

Fiction for Christian readers especially needs a factual foundation with biblical truths acted out on each page. This means being true to Judeo-Christian values and to human nature — true to the fears, frustrations, anger, worries, and longings people experience over the course of a lifetime and over the course of your story plot.

To immerse yourself in true drama, just look around. Watch people, but also consider the ups and downs in your own life. Most importantly, read the Bible, especially the book of Genesis. In that first book of the living word of God, you will find the beginning of almost every interesting story on the earth!

Those timeless yet timely Bible stories, Bible plots, Bible people, and biblical settings continue to affect every culture and also replay in contemporary lives and homes. To find good models to help you develop your story characters, look at the character development of Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah.

The Bible also offers countless possibilities for developing a story plot. For example, read about the actions-reactions-consequences and outcome (i.e., the plot) that occurred when Abraham took Sarah’s advice and took her maid! See what happened before and after Ishmael was born and, later, Isaac. See if similar sagas might work well in faith-building stories for today’s readers, including non-Christian or secular readers with no awareness of Judeo-Christian values or what might happens when people try to follow God.

Although fiction may not be a “true story” that you’ve experienced or heard about, it must be a truth story — one in which each character speaks or acts as a similar person would in real life. Sometimes, though, Christian writers believe they have to show a character’s relationship with God in such a positive, upbeat light that non-Christian readers think the resulting fiction is overly sentimental or downright sappy! Inspirational novels and stories do well to end on a word of hope, of course, but each chapter needs some kind of struggle, conflict, or obstacle to overcome, not only to strengthen Christian faith but also to build an interesting and highly credible story readers will enjoy and believe.

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© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved. May God guide you in writing biblical truths in Jesus’ Name.

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2 thoughts on “Writing fiction for Christians of all ages

  1. Thanks, David. Sounds like your work is on the right track. I do offer one-on-one comments and professional feedback in critiques and writing consults on book proposals, but not a full book, except for poetry, and not for free. If you're in a writers' group on LinkedIn, you might be able to find someone to do a manuscript exchange where you comment on each other's work. God bless – Mary

  2. Very good advice, Mary, especially what you said about over-idealized “saints”.
    I've recently published a historical novel called “The Poor Preachers”, based on the activities of the followers of reformer John Wycliffe, back in the 14th century.
    It's been a journey changing my characters from larger-than-life to more believable characters. It took my daughter to wake me up on that, but I still wouldn't mind some comment on what I've done with my characters if you have the time. There's a link to a preview at: http://books.google.com.au/books?id=F1WDjkPAKFIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=poor+preachers&hl=en&sa=X&ei=GtZ2T7r2GsftmAWSrMHpDw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=poor%20preachers&f=false

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