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Fantasy Writers

Writing for secular audience

Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
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  • #110229
    Eitan
    @eitan

    Hi everyone! Since I write in Hebrew, I write to the secular audience, and try to share the Gospel through writing – most people have ”defenses” against preaching or debating, so writing could be a way to ”bypass” those defenses.

    I didn’t find many articles about that topic here or in Kingdom Pen. Do some of you have advises for me? I have some particular questions I would be happy to get answers for them:

    1) How to deliver the Gospel without being preachy?

    2) How to write the rebirth of the hero without being predictable (”Oh, he heard about this <i>Jesus</i>, so now he’ll become Christian”)?

    3) How to make my readers impacted by the story, so at least some of them will eventually turn to Jesus?

    You don't need to see the wind itself in order to hear the rustling leaves.

    #110255
    Corine
    @corine

    Hi @eitan! So great how passionate you are about sharing the Gospel through your writing!

    There are actually some really good articles on the Story Embers blog about this topic, although they do all seem to be a bit older so they might not have appeared when you were looking. If you go to the Ethics category then there’s a good list.

    One of my favourites is ‘Four Christian Practices that can Kill your Novel’s Theme’, by Maddie Morrow, which examines the problem you mentioned of not coming across as ‘too preachy.’

    There was also a five-part series from the SE staff a while ago looking at how to depict some of the trickier topics of writing (like violence, darkness, sex), which I found really helpful. I think you can find that under the Ethics category as well.

    Hope that helps!

    #110256
    Eitan
    @eitan

    Thank you so much!

    You don't need to see the wind itself in order to hear the rustling leaves.

    #110260
    Naiya Dyani
    @naiya-dyani

    @Josiah do you or the others have advice on this?

    Hearts are like matter--they can be beaten down, torn, and burned, but they cannot be destroyed.

    #110263
    Daeus Lamb
    @daeus-lamb

    @eitan I wrote a reply, but I wasn’t logged in when I posted it, so I lost it. 😛

    I’ll try to summarize what I said.

    • It’s true people don’t like sermons or debates, so those generally don’t belong in fiction either. 😉 I can think of some examples with sermons or religious debates in fiction that actually felt totally natural, but it definitely takes a skilled writer and the right situation to pull it off. The #1 rule for success is, when you’re writing a moral or religious discussion, don’t focus (you can think about it a tiny bit though) on trying to reach the reader, focus on how the characters are feeling, how they’d most naturally respond. Also, don’t make one person the obvious winner. The story itself should show the truth you want to share. Debates can serve to “set the scene” for your message, but the message itself comes from the plot and character arcs.
    • Some people aren’t big on sharing the gospel in fiction since they think that’s automatically preachy. I think that’s a generalization, though it’s almost always true. It’s not so hard to present the gospel if your readers already know it and you can basically just reference it, but if you have to explain everything from the ground up…that’s a lot of explaining to do. It’s hard to show and not tell, which means you’ll end up sounding preachy. You’d probably have to use one of those “debates without a clear winner” that sets up what the gospel is, but doesn’t pitch it to the reader. The plot and character arcs would have to do that.
    • Also, I don’t believe explicitly sharing the gospel is the only way to glorify God through storytelling. Stories remind people of the gospel. It can allude to the gospel in ways that will create a culture that will understand the gospel easily when it is shared with them. It can dissatisfy readers with their humanist approach to life. And the list goes on. Lots of stories, more or less explicitly Christian do these things. You can even write a story that just brightens someone’s day or reenergizes them. I generally aim for more, but those aren’t bad goals.
    • If you think of yourself as a preacher first, artist second…be very, very careful. I get that you “can” write a not-very-artistic story and God can use the message to change someone’s life, but seriously, unless you love writing, study it, and own it, you don’t know what you’re dealing with. It would be like a non-plumber trying to wire a house or a non-coder trying to fix complex JavaScript.

    😀
    👕👍
    👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢

    #110266
    Eitan
    @eitan

    @corine

    Hmm, I can’t find that article… Can you link to it please?


    @daeus-lamb

    Thank you so much for the advises!

    You can even write a story that just brightens someone’s day or reenergizes them

    Well, if it’s everything I’ve done, so I just sent the reader to Hell reenergized…

    Anyway, after praying, I think that God wants me to wait with my novel for some time and just learn more about writing, especially about evangelizing through writing. When my time will come, He’ll help me in that.

    You really helped me anyway! Thank you again!

    You don't need to see the wind itself in order to hear the rustling leaves.

    #110268
    claire
    @claire-h

    @eitan

    I really appreciate your heart for reaching people through fiction, but I have to agree that it’s very hard (or nearly impossible) to share the gospel in a fictional work without being preachy. After all, preaching is sharing the gospel! The two go hand in hand. So maybe you could consider writing nonfiction… Just a thought.

    Also, that’s great that you are praying and seeking after what God wants you to do. 🙂

    a flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it.
    it just blooms.

    #110274
    Daeus Lamb
    @daeus-lamb

    @eitan

    Sounds good. I think what you want to do can be done–I encourage you to keep praying, studying, and thinking about it–but it’s probably for the best you’re waiting on it. If lots of Christians turn to fiction to evangelize and the majority of them don’t prioritize their art to the point where they and those who know what good art looks like feel good about it, people won’t read Christian books. There goes the great opportunity everyone was so eager about! Also, it isn’t respectful and doesn’t reflect well on the gospel to sell readers a book they thought would entertain them, but doesn’t.

    I also agree with Claire. Non-fiction is ripe with opportunity. All you need is two things:

    1. A winsome style
    2. A killer hook. For instance, there’s this evangelistic booklet called What Time is Purple? I’ve only read a little bit, but I couldn’t resist at least picking it up! Because, seriously, WHO DOESN’T NEED TO KNOW WHAT TIME PURPLE IS?

    You get people to look at your title/cover/description and think “That looks crazy. I have to read that.” And then you write winsomely and they’ll read the whole thing, even if they didn’t think they’d like a book from your viewpoint.

    And there are all sorts of different communication venues. YouTube, what not. Seriously man, choose whatever suits your natural gifts best and go crazy.

    😀
    👕👍
    👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢

    #110275
    Daeus Lamb
    @daeus-lamb

    Well, if it’s everything I’ve done, so I just sent the reader to Hell reenergized…

    Also, I kinda agree with you, but there’s more than one way to look at this. Like, if you take this logic to it’s max, you’d grab every passing stranger who even walked past you on the sidewalk and made sure you told them the gospel. You don’t want to just wish them well and have them die and go to hell!

    But, while some people are better at striking up on-the-spot conversations than others, I think this it’s pretty safe to say this is a short-term-tactic that will probably result in a lot of people avoiding you.

    Like–Esther warmed the king up with two feasts before she got to the point about saving her people. I’m not God so I can’t say for sure, but sometimes the small, “unspiritural” things we do for people may lead to more opportunities to speak to listening ears than had we dove straight to the point.

    Like–I don’t have influence over very many people at the moment, but with Covid-19 lots of people want a break. Say I wrote a hit novel that satisfied people’s desire for escape and adventure, something meaningful but not gospel-centric. I haven’t saved anyone’s soul, but now I have a much larger sphere of influence over people whom I’ve invested in and are interested in what I have to say. Maybe I do a facebook live on how the gospel gives me courage in the midst of covid-19 and 200 people watch it. Boom.

    You see what I mean? Not everything that at first appears like hiding one’s lamp under a basket has to be so. It’s about just however God leads and us surrendering to His will.

    Rant over. 😄

    😀
    👕👍
    👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢

    #110279
    Eitan
    @eitan

    @daeus-lamb @claire-h

    Thank you so much for the advises! Probably writing non-fiction is better for evangelizing. (Or I can just translate one of the books of Living Waters to Hebrew 😉 ).

    You see what I mean? Not everything that at first appears like hiding one’s lamp under a basket has to be so. It’s about just however God leads and us surrendering to His will.

    Got it. Thank you very much! I will think how to apply your advise.

    You don't need to see the wind itself in order to hear the rustling leaves.

    #110281
    Corine
    @corine

    Yeah, I did try to link it earlier but I don’t think the spam filters/powers of the forum like it very much 😉 I’ll try to disguise it and see if it works:

    [storyembers][.org]/article-categories/ethics/

    [storyembers][.org]/four-christian-practices-that-can-kill-your-novels-theme/

    Also, just to add that I agree with both @daeus-lamb and @claire-h; there’s a lot of scope for sharing the Gospel through writing, be that by writing blatant Christian non-fiction or in more subtle ways. I think the way we live is often a much greater witness than we realise. Actions often speak louder than words, after all.

    So, while it is great to have the purpose of God’s glory at the centre of our writing, it needn’t be as blatant spelling out the Gospel on every page. Personally, I appreciate reading about relateable characters, placed in moral situations which I might also struggle with.

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