Hello and welcome to the Write for a Reason blog!
We have a closed Facebook group, for writers who are determined to write their books (let me know if you’d like to join us – we’d love to have you in the group!). I recently asked if there are any subjects members would like us to cover in Facebook Live sessions, and one of our members wrote:
“I was thinking a video on writing books that are not only readable by believers or Christian children. I think some of your stories do that and it’s something I really feel more passionate about and I don’t know of enough writers who do that. How do you write books that the Christian market will accept and that isn’t too confusing for the ‘uninitiated’? I have thoughts on this based on my experiences in non-church schools and having grown up in that system too, but it would be good to hear your thoughts.”
This is a great question – thanks Ijeoma!
One of our modules in the Write for a Reason course is Theme. We look at the difference between subject, theme and message, and how they intertwine. At the end of the week, students decide on where they are going with these elements of their story.
But for those of you who are not yet doing the course, I’d like to offer a few quick thoughts:
- All authors have a worldview, and write from that worldview. Secular writers will write from a secular viewpoint. As Christians we will write from a Christian worldview, because we believe in Jesus! There’s nothing wrong with that!
- If we have a strong opinion about something, it may naturally find itself in our stories. For example, if we are concerned about ‘green’ issues, that may well spill over into the story. If we long for children to find Jesus, this will spill over, too.
But how Christian should you make your story, if you are a Christian?
Honestly, this is entirely up to you. To help you decide, I would suggest that you:
- Write with one child in mind. Who would you most like to write a story for? How Christian would you make your story, for this child?
- Pray. You are going to need some wisdom!
- Be true to yourself. You could write a gentle allegory, or a full-blown story where one of your characters becomes a Christian.You need to be yourself. You need to do you. You need to write what you feel you have been given.
Consider C.S.Lewis’ Narnia stories! They are full of fun, adventure, hope… and point to Jesus, but in a subtle way. Other stories are more overtly Christian, like many of the books we publish at Dernier Publishing – both are great.
Secular chools may not accept your story if it has strong Christian themes (this will be different in different parts of the world), and even your own family may not like your story, but you still need to write from your own conviction.
However, Christian bookshops will sell Christian books, so even if you don’t have a schools market, you may still be able to find an outlet for your book.
Make sure your story is good fun. Your ‘spiritual point’ (if you want to make one) must be intertwined within the pages of your fun story. The book has to be about something engaging and exciting, and it must be laced with humour and drama. For example, in The Birthday Shoes, Emily Jane goes on magical adventures round Africa. She has loads of fun, makes friends, learns about crocodiles (for a school project!)… but in the pages of the story she also discovers that going to church with her parents doesn’t make her a Christian. Good, huh?
Does all that make sense?
In a nutshell:
- If you want to include a message in your story, you need to weave it into your thrilling plot.
- You will never be able to please everyone. Write for one child – make the Christian content perfect for him/her.
- Keep writing! We must get Christian books into children’s hands while we can.
Novels should be fun to read.
Readers should be allowed to pick up any themes themselves. There’s a place for how-to books, but we’re writing novels, so the message should be part of your gripping plot. 🙂
Trust that helps!
Love to you all,
P.S. In the Write for a Reason Academy we go into much more detail about your ‘one reader’, theme, message and plot. I will be opening registration for the next course in a few weeks, so if you’d like to keep informed, make sure you’re on my email list. (If this short piece has helped you, the course will help you a lot more – I promise.)