Monday, October 20, 2014

Inspirational Fiction--to preach or not to preach

When  I started writing inspirational fiction, I struggled most with how to incorporate God into my stories without sounding as though I was preaching. As time passed, I've learned that I don't need to hit my reader over the head with scripture and strong passages of preaching to get my point across. Instead, I've found less is more.

Think about the times when you wanted to share with others what God has done in your life. When my husband and I first started attending church together in the 80s, we were excited and so gun-ho about our choice that we rammed our opinions down others' throats. It didn't go so well. We had to learn to share with grace and share when the opportunity arose because we wanted our friends and family to experience the same joy we were.

I've had the pleasure of critiquing friends' books over the years. When I suggest taking out long passages that preach, I often run into resistance. I try to explain that you can show how God works without adding a pastor in the book who preaches every other page. I often use a pastor as a character in my books but their dialogue is kept real, as though I truly was talking to them.

My goal in writing inspirational fiction is to point others toward God and open doors that might have been kept closed for years. In my debut novel, The Mulligan, I share how trusting God to lead us is better than pounding off on our own. I hope I've showed that truth through my story.We never know who will pick up our books and the last obstacle we want to throw in their path is a book filled with words they can't understand.

Keep your story real.

Has anyone else run into this challenge when writing inspirational fiction? I'd love to hear what you've done.


Karen Lange said...

I agree, we need to keep it real. I don't want to be preached "at" in real life or when I am reading. There are better ways to express oneself through speaking and writing - be genuine, and not controlling.

Linda Glaz said...

I had a lady tell me once that she knew I was a Christian by how I lived. I think our characters can do the same thing by how they live, react, etc.

Lillian Robinson said...

Agree. As a reader, I don't buy a novel to study God. But I love seeing God work in people's lives--real or not! It's the testimonies that draw an unbeliever. Sharing our story beats an invitation to church any day. So it is in fiction.

Sally Wessely said...

I agree with you. In my blog, I never preach or even overtly mention my faith. I very seldom use scriptures. At times, I struggle about my decision on this type of blog writing, but I believe for me this is the focus I will take for now. I may change my mind later, or I may start a new blog with a different emphasis. Some blogs plainly speak of faith without hitting one over the head with beliefs or scriptures. I find these blogs the most inspirational. I think this principal applies to fictional writing also.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

It takes real skill to write that kind of story. I've tried, but I always come across as too preachy. I'm looking forward to reading your book when it's released.

Rita Garcia said...

Totally agree with you, Terri. Fantastic blog post.

Susan said...

Hi Terri....Oh definitely, no preachy preachy stuff.

I think when we share from our hearts, it always works.

Plus, God is really the one behind our writing anyway! Right?

I think you are a terrific writer. Susan

Great Grandma Lin said...

In my non fiction self help books, i try to generalize god as your greater power or the creator so it leaves it open for others interpretation and not preaching my concept of God.

Hugh Cook said...

Fiction is absolutely the worst form of writing to convey a "message." Leave that to preachers. Stories are never made better by preaching, but sermons are always made better when they tell a story.