Dear Aspiring Christian Author,
As an avid reader and subsequent thinker about what I have read, I have a few thoughts to share with you that may help – or hinder your writing endeavors. Before I get into my suggestions, let me say that I highly respect anyone who can actually develop a story beyond a couple of chapters, and keep it going – with interest – all the way to the end of the book. I often wonder how that process works – the planning, the character development, the putting forth of the thoughts of the author through the characters in the story. So, please know that what I say (and think) is really of very little significance in the whole scheme of things. I am simply writing as a reader to the writer.
One more disclaimer – I respect the time and thought put in to writing ANY book, whether I agree with the author or not. I am merely taking the opportunity to share what is important to me when I spend my time reading what has taken you so long to get on paper.
1. Keep Christ central to your story. You may not want to “preach” on every page, but please, please, allow Him to be seen in the general picture you are painting. I tend to ask myself a few questions when I finish reading a Christian fiction book. Am I encouraged to get closer to Christ? Have I learned something of Him? Have I been reminded of an aspect of His character or challenged to trust Him in a greater way? Am I encouraged to love Him better? To love my neighbor as myself? Admittedly, these are lofty goals. However, aren’t they the goals we are all striving toward as we follow Christ? So, I encourage you to reach higher than simply adding the words “faith” and “a Higher Power” to your book. If it is a Christian book – let our Lord be seen!
2. Please do not make sin the focal point of your story. I have read (or tried to read) contemporary “Christian” stories that have me blushing (and closing the book) in the first chapter. If you feel the need to “grab the reader’s attention” by using indecent dialogue, scenes and innuendo – you may need to rethink your audience and write for a secular crowd. You’ve already lost this reader.
3. Make your characters believable without feeling like they have to blame God to do so. One of the rewarding aspects of reading a good book is to truly identify with the characters. In every “believable” scenario, the hero or heroine may or may not be “perfect” in their responses, but their heart is pure towards God! That makes all the difference. If bitterness, anger, and resentment toward God (in short – the flesh) is all the character depth you can come up with, please rethink your story. You may say, “I want my readers to identify with the characters.” That is an admirable goal. Please let us, as readers, relate to the up-side of our Christian life rather than the side we all regret at the end of a possibly bad day. I have enough of my own flesh to deal with – it is not enjoyable to me to have to deal with your story-people’s flesh too.
4. Use older, moral writers as your mentors. I say this because I generally read the older writers. Their command of the English language is so much more (may I use the word?) refined than most of the modern books I have read. If you are writing for an adult audience, use vocabulary and sentence structure that reaches beyond the typical fifth-grade level in which most contemporary books are written today. I remember once reading a very popular modern author – a real “best-seller” in the Christian ranks. I flipped the book open, with a copy of an old classic beside it. The difference in the actual writing proficiency was almost embarrassing. I say that to make the point - strive higher than the status-quo!
Some of the best friends are made through books.
5. Don’t be afraid to challenge your reader. I enjoy a challenge. If you have a particularly sticky topic you are wanting to deal with, don’t be intimidated to do so through your story. There are many issues that can be dealt with in a non-offensive tone when written through the voice of a sweet character. I’ll use slavery as an example. Harriet Beecher Stowe wonderfully used her writing talent to give voice to an issue that was highly explosive in her generation. Remember that Abraham Lincoln addressed her as “the little lady that started the (Civil) War?” If you have an issue burning in your heart, don’t be afraid to allow it to find it’s outlet through your pen. We may need to hear what God has given you to say.
6. Love thy reader as thyself. That means, don’t get upset when you read these suggestions.
So, if you want me – your potential reader – to truly like (and I don’t mean on facebook) your book that you have labored over for hours and hours, just keep these few hints in mind.
I look forward to a long and happy reader-author friendship that will endure the test of time.
By the way, if you have a book you have written and would like us to review, please email me at goodbooks (at) wholesomereads (dot) com. I would recommend reading our requirements first and reserve the right to judge what would be appropriate for our readers.
“Whatsoever things are pure … think on these things”