– by Rachel Hauck
Writing in the Christian fiction market pushes us to go beyond the realm of this life to find meaning and purpose for our characters. Even non fiction requires genuine truth told in a unique and engaging way.
For fiction writers, while we are not writing sermons and devotionals set in fictional places with fictional characters, we are imitating life.
Jesus is very much a part of our every day life. We want to express Him in some way in our stories, through the lives of our characters.
But often our stories sound hokey, canned, full of Christianese. How we talk in the foyer at church, or in Sunday school class does not translate into fiction.
Remember, our goal is to write great stories about great characters. Our goal is not agenda fiction where we pound the pulpit — so to speak — about some error of ways.
So how do we develop a convincing, authentic spiritual thread? A lot of prayer and pondering. Digging deep the translate those standard words like, “Is he a believer?” to something every one can understand. Like, “Does he believe in Jesus?” Simple, straight forward, a non-Christian gets it.
Avoid soap boxes. Don’t preach to the reader out of your own wounds or doctrinal passions. One, it’s obvious. Two, it’s boring. Find one truth that you’ve learned and weave it into your character’s being then let the words flow naturally. Maybe in one or two scenes.
It’s not a Bible study. Don’t write and discuss long passages of scripture or quote noted Bible teachers. Have you characters quote a verse in a natural way, using his or her own words.
Express God in creative ways. In one of my books, God got the heroine’s attention with feathers appearing out of nowhere. In another, the heroine senses a strong fragrance.
You can’t write about what you don’t have in yourself. The spiritual journey of a character is often the fragrance of God in and on the author. If you aren’t going deep in God, spending time at His feet, in His Word, praying, worhshipping, fellowshipping with others, your spiritual message will be flat. Always. Your message will feel forces and tacked on. Or worse, fake. Or untrue.
But as you spend time in His presence, the spiritual thread becomes a part of you, a part of the character, a part of the whole book. And you may only have to mention Jesus once. But He’s everywhere unseen.
Don’t lead with doctrine. Lead with the Spirit. Lead with a story. Fiction or non fiction both require story. Don’t just repeat what others are saying. Get your own revelation and then back it up with the truth of the Word. Pray for a creative way to weave it into your character’s journey.
Be a Voice not an Echo.