Heroes change their worlds by undergoing personal transformation that impels them to risk their own safety for the sake of others. Sometimes this is encapsulated in a singular act, and other times in a recurring pattern, but both reflect the same theme. Over the past few years, however, I’ve noticed an influx of stories that define heroism differently. Instead of revolving around the principle that virtue develops inwardly before manifesting outwardly, this new version focuses on moral judgment.
Though stories are imaginary, they have an incredible ability to encourage readers to either engage deeply with the real world, or search for an escape. As writers, our responsibility is to be intentional about the reactions we provoke and instead fill readers up. Only when they’re overflowing with hope can they pour themselves into others. To leave them in a better state than you found them, you need to stir up a special sort of longing.
Anxiety has become increasingly common with all of the turmoil in the world today, affecting a wide variety of people regardless of age, gender, or lifestyle. Since identifying the problems readers are facing is essential to creating relatable characters, anxiety needs to be represented in fiction—and Christian authors have a unique ability to provide comfort.
Writing at any stage of life can be difficult. Some stages present especially complex challenges, like raising children. Your time, resources, and even your body (if you’re nurturing an infant) are no longer your own. How do you craft characters and plots when you’re stepping on Duplos while cooking dinner and your toddler asks so many ponderous questions that you can’t concentrate? To all the parents whose coffee has gone cold, you’re not alone.
Writers are a brutal sect. We spend our free time inventing new methods of torturing characters, all while cackling like gremlins over the tears of heartbroken readers. “I’m off to kill someone” is a phrase tossed around like a tennis ball in writing communities. To the outside observer, our dark humor may seem psychotic. What normal person beats their brainchildren into a pulp only to quip about it later? Although the jokes are often in poor taste, suffering draws in writers, and readers, for better reasons than mental instability.
So, you dream of writing a children’s book. And not only do you believe you have a premise that will entertain, bring laughter and joy, or make an impact on developing minds, you have a passion for reaching kids. What better mission to embark on? I say go for it! But before you send off your manuscript to an acquisitions editor, be aware that the genre has its own set of nuances that make it distinct from higher reading levels.
If you write contemporary fiction, you’ve probably run into the problem of choosing a setting. A story’s setting is as influential to the plot as the characters who populate it. A book set in Paris will be vastly different from one set in a small Midwestern town. But what if you’ve never been to the locations in your story? How important is accuracy? The short answer: Authentic details bring settings to life.
Have you ever set down a book, startled that the author turned your outlook upside down with tiny black marks on paper? Do you want to write stories that have the same effect on others?
As I stared at the blank page beneath the title of this article, my mind revisited all the stories that have given me a transformative experience. I love when my heart skips a beat and I pause to process the exhilarating symphony that the words are orchestrating in my imagination. Or when I come to an ending so satisfying that I’m amazed.
We’ve all had heart-pounding experiences alongside fictional characters. We held our breath when Ethan Hunt made a last-ditch attempt to stop an explosion in Mission Impossible, pored over Pride and Prejudice for hours to discover one family’s future, and perched on the edges of our seats when Thanos, Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man faced off in Avengers: Endgame. But why do these scenes capture us, and how can we replicate the effect in our own stories?