“Bad books are a myth because the only measuring stick is people’s whims.” I ended my first article in this mini series with that provocative and troubling conclusion. But hopefully you followed my reasoning. Since even literary-minded readers occasionally enjoy “bad” books, how can we make any objective assessments?
Story Embers Summit & Marketing Director
Josiah DeGraaf is a writing teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since. He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations and loves to take normal people, put them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then force them to make difficult choices. Someday he hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him teaching young writers at the Young Writer’s Workshop or writing short stories on his website as he works toward achieving these goals.
We all have books we hate where we can’t fathom how anyone else could enjoy them. And yet scrolling through the reviews of even your least-favorite book on Amazon or Goodreads will inevitably reveal a number of five-star write-ups. Why do readers like these books? And why does this matter to authors?
Last summer at our annual staff retreat, we ran into a dilemma. Many people want to become published authors. But that dream gets buried under rejections, discouragement, and life’s responsibilities. So they give up. Since we desire to help Christian storytellers excel, this presented a challenge: Why do writers quit? And how can we empower them to continue pursuing their goals?
A NYT-bestselling author I heard once argued that readers tend to “read fiction to escape. Authors are entertainers,” and whether we like it or not, we need to give people what they want. But is this really accurate? Or is there a deeper reason for why people read fiction and what we need to thus provide them as storytellers?
Writers tend to view symbols as literary tropes to develop a story’s theme. However, well-executed symbols not only deepen theme: they enhance the audience’s enjoyment of a story. Here’s a few lessons we can learn from the new Star Wars trilogy about how to craft symbols that emotionally impact readers.
Fawkes is one of those novels that breaks the “rules” for how to deliver a Christian message without sounding preachy. Many of the tropes used in this novel would be cliched or annoying in other stories. But Brandes makes them work without any of those downsides. Here’s how she did it.
One year ago, we founded Story Embers. Over the past year, we’ve reached 20,000+ visitors, got a listing in the Christian Writers Market Guide, crafted our manifesto of excellent Christian storytelling, and published 70+ articles on the writing craft. Now it’s time for us to take our next steps. And we want you to be a part of it.
In a world where the gods of sexual pleasure pose strong opposition to Christianity, we need Christian storytellers who are ready to write about sexuality appropriately and biblically. In this article, I outline seven principles to consider when incorporating sex into our stories.
Many Christian storytellers desire to set themselves apart from the secular world by writing clean stories. Clean fiction can have a purpose, especially if the target audience expects it. But if all Christian fiction is clean, I’d contend that we’ve lost something. Here’s why.
Christian storytelling is facing a crisis. Though good intentions abound, many Christian stories in the 21st century are cheesy, unrealistic, and artistically bland. Publishers struggle to find a market for Christian stories. And readers are leaving the genre. That’s why we wrote a Manifesto to explain what Christian storytelling needs to look like.