Monday, November 09, 2009

How to Write a Christian Novel Built to Last!

Every time I pick up my Bible, I am reminded that each word-each line-was written thousands of years ago, yet, here I am again, reading it and gaining insight and wisdom with each passage. It motivates me to challenge even the best authors to raise the bar and demand that your novel hold that same excellence that the God inspired word holds. After all, the Bible was penned by many authors, yet the inspiration of God is what allows it to last throughout centuries and still maintain relevance. Why can't we expect that our novels have the same meaning- if they are, in fact, touched by God? Why can't we write with such authority and wisdom that publishers in the future are still setting their presses to print what's written now and readers will still be talking about novels written today? It shouldn't be a pie-in-the-sky dream. It should be such a reality that anything written with less-than-staying power falls short. The standard should be novels written with relevance and wisdom and timely truths that reach into the future generations of our great, great, grandchildren.

Nothing but the inspiration of God can provoke such a novel, but there have been books written on the importance of spiritual content. Here are a few recommendations for embedding spiritual truths and strengthening Christian content:

Thinking about writing an inspirational novel, but don't know where to begin? Here's help! Your favorite authors offer tips on brainstorming, approaching tough topics, crafting a story, and marketing a book; and explain what makes fiction "Christian." Contributors include Jerry Jenkins, Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers, Randy Alcorn, Colleen Coble, Angela Hunt, and many others.

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 250
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: November 1, 2009
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 1414329946
ISBN-13: 9781414329949

Writing for the Christian-fiction market has its benefits. One generally doesn't need an agent to get one's manuscript considered. Though the quality of Christian fiction has improved greatly in the past decade or so, publishers are still willing to take a chance on a newcomer. And most Christian publishing houses are small, making the publishing process a warmer, more personal experience. But be forewarned. Christian, or evangelical, fiction isn't just about characters who "pray, preach and sing gospel songs," says Penelope J. Stokes. It's about "living, breathing spiritual beings who grapple with the hard questions of life and find ... hope in the reality of God's presence in the world." Stokes has edited (and written) Christian fiction for 15 years; her Complete Guide to Writing & Selling the Christian Novel is a fantastic resource for the writer of Christian fiction.

In addition to providing advice from which any fiction writer would benefit, Stokes does a fine job of defining Christian fiction. It is, she says, first and foremost fiction. It is not sermonizing. It is not about saving lost souls ("Rarely," she says, "does a religious novel find an audience among the unconverted"). It best not be full of religious jargon or Bible-quoting zealots. Still, it must have "a distinctly religious viewpoint, usually marked by the personal conversion of one or more characters." And just because, as a believer, you see your writing as a gift and a calling, don't think for a minute that your work is beyond revision. "Creation is not the end of the process," says Stokes. "It's the beginning. In the image of our Creator, we continue the work of ongoing re-creation. We revise, refine, reorganize and rewrite. And at the end of the day we, too, can rest and say, 'It is good.'" --Jane Steinberg

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Writers Digest Books; 1st edition (July 15, 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0898798108
ISBN-13: 978-0898798104
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches

Here is the book to help you move from beginning writer to professional. This practical text on the fine art of writing is designed to encourage you to develop your God-given talent. Along with the theoretical aspects of writing, the reader is provided in-depth writing assignments to practice their craft. Perfect for classroom or individual study.

Eleven comprehensive chapters and ten appendices discuss nearly every element of the writing process.

Paperback: 292 pages
Publisher: ACW Press; 2 Revised edition (December 1, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 189252516X
ISBN-13: 978-1892525161
Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.9 inches

The best-selling author of the Left Behind series offers a personal handbook of inspiration, advice, anecdotes, and practical techniques for prospective writers, discussing the essential skills and abilities required to build a writing career, how to work with an editor, how to create a query or proposal, and more. 45,000 first printing.

Hardcover: 250 pages
Publisher: Writers Digest Books (August 1, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1582974179
ISBN-13: 978-1582974170
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches