“It is worth remembering when communicating that it is important to express oneself, but essential to do so in a way understood by the other.” Bishop Angaelos, Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.
That’s a good quote, isn’t it? I don’t think the Bishop was talking about writing Christian books for children, but it is nonetheless a relevant point for us as Christian writers. If we want to share the good news through story, we must do so in a way our readers will understand, or all our efforts will be wasted. So in this week’s post I’ve put together seven random thoughts that I hope might help:
- If our story is dull, preachy, or makes our readers cringe, they will put it down.
- Are we going to quote from Shakespeare or the Bible? If so, will our readers understand the quote?
- What about our language – is it too old-fashioned? (Wireless means a very different thing now than it used to, for example!)
- Would our story happily cross cultures?
- Is the vocabulary we have used and sentence structure/length right for the age group we are writing for?
- If we are writing for non-church children/young people, we need to keep church jargon out! Words like catechism, communion, interregnum and archdeacon will be a foreign language to many. Talking about a New Wine church might raise eyebrows . . .
- If your readers don’t understand the message because it is allegorical, all your work could be in vain. I read CS Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a child but because I didn’t know that Jesus died for my sins, the Christian message was completely lost on me. Not a problem, of course, if you are writing for church children.
The long and the short of it all is: consider your readers. Write a brilliant, captivating, engaging, fun story that will make them laugh, cry, and long for the sequel. If your message is in there, you can leave it to the Holy Spirit to touch hearts and lives. But you have to do your bit first.
PS Like to dig deeper into writing and become a member of Write for a Reason? More info here: Membership Programme