Thursday, January 10, 2013

"Please Preach at Me," Said No Reader Ever

Ever read one of those stories that tries to cram in a bunch of SAT words into a novel? (They exist. Check out a few riveting plots here.)

I’ve never read one, but I’ve heard that they are replete with a plethora of haranguing by the author in an attempt to repudiate the claim that they are lackluster and bombast the student with knowledge.

Did that sentence sound a little strange to you? That’s because I deliberately structured it to fit six of the top 100 SAT words into it instead of just trying to communicate my point in the best way possible. Which is not a good way to do things.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use advanced vocabulary words in your writing, because you probably will. The word choice of other books you’ve read will come through in your story simply because that’s how language words. Once you develop an ear for which word is the right word to use in a particular context, you won’t need to run to a thesaurus or SAT word list for synonyms every other sentence.

The same is true with the “message” of Christian fiction. If you get a “Plan of Salvation” tract and try to cram all of its points into a story, it’s going to feel forced and ridiculous. But if you let the truth that you know about God show through in your writing (often without planning to), it will fit. Because that’s how faith works.

I could be wrong. It might be more complicated than that. I’ll let you know if I find out that it is.

Then again, although the principle is simple, being transformed by God in such a way that your faith means something in your everyday life is really hard. It’s a lot easier, actually, to ramrod biblical truth into writing than to think about it, understand it, and live it.

The reason good Christian fiction doesn’t feel fake is because it isn’t. 

Fake is easy. Real is hard.

But, as I've already said probably a million times, hard is also worth it.

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