Monday, December 17, 2007

Handling The Spiritual Thread in Christian Fiction

Another question sent to me involves writing Christian romance. The writer asked: Weaving the spiritual thread into romance is tricky to do without becoming heavy handed. What's the secret?

My response:

The spiritual thread is exactly that---a thread. When we think of our lives as a tapestry, we know that each thread has a purpose, each has it’s own color, and each is important to the whole. One thread doesn’t stand out over another, but it works together to present a beautiful image. So are the threads of our story. None should take precedent over the other.

Growth of the character, the relationships, and faith is important to create the tapestry of the story. A book is first to entertain and then to leave an impact on the reader. In Christian romance, the impact is the happy-ever-after of the hero and heroine, but at the same time, it’s also important to leave the reader with a stronger faith or to mirror their faith through the characters and what they’ve been through.

This doesn’t mean that we are trying to convert everyone who reads our books. More likely we would scare non-believers away. We are to show that despite our flaws, fears, weaknesses, doubts, and sins, God loves us and keeps His promises. If we weave this into our story just as these same elements are woven into a Christian's daily life, then an author will not be preachy but will just create a lovely tapestry that will make an impact and be remembered.

Writing from a Christian perspective has to do with a Christian worldview. It's how people of faith (whatever that might be) sees life and responds with the morals, values and beliefs of their faith. Christians, naturally, have the Ten commandments as well as numerous Bible verses that guides our lives. When we do not follow these commandments or rules, then we have sinned. These sins cause people sorrow and humiliation. It affects how they respond to others and how they feel about themselves. This is what helps build conflicts and what provides a spiritual takeaway for the reader.

I will go into this topic much more later, but even more so in my book on Writing the Christian Romance which has a full chapter on spirituality with novel excerpts, examples and comments from Christian novelists.


NYCindividual said...

As a quick note I'd like to say that I have read and reviewed Gail's new book on Christian romance writing and I highly recommend it.

As far as your post goes, I highly agree that stories should not preach the Christian message to the point where it annoys the reader. This will push the reader away. Another thing that is important to me is that stories be realistic. We don't go around preaching in real life and people are not converted to Christianity in a short amount of time in real life. I just saw a Christmas program the other day that I did not like because after one song about the Christmas story everyone came to know Christ. The song was very powerful, but the ending ruined it for me, especially since everyone present was clapping and screaming throughout the song in "excitement and joy for God."

Gail Gaymer Martin said...

Hi - and thanks for your comments about my book. I agree. I think sometimes people attempting to write Christian fiction make it all too easy. Faith is a very personal thing and something that takes time, thought and an open heart. It doesn't happen overnight or because someone sings a song. My book stress writing real, and I hope that's a lesson writers learn.

Thanks for dropping a note.