Jesus Freaks for Writers discussion

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message 1: by Aɳɳα (new)

Aɳɳα So, I've been thinking about this lately. Do you think that, as Christians, we should incorporate Christianity into our writing?


message 2: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (last edited May 04, 2015 07:30PM) (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
Good discussion topic!

I think that it will show up some, just because its a part of who we are.
I don't actively try to have God or Christians in my books (mostly because I write fantasy...), but I certainly do promote Christian morals and a Christian worldview. For me personally, I will not try to force Christianity into my story: I hate books that are too preachy. I just let the story flow, and whatever works its way into it, is what's in there.

What about you?


message 3: by Aɳɳα (new)

Aɳɳα Same as you! Like you said, I hate reading books that are preachy! I just try to keep Christian morals in my characters, as well as a Christian attitude throughout the book. Thanks for your opinion!


message 4: by Rebecca L (new)

Rebecca L (rebeccalsnowe) I agree with you Lena, I don't like really preachy books either but I do in my writing try to incorporate Christian morals and a Christian worldview.


message 5: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (last edited May 05, 2015 09:47AM) (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
Right.
I haven't really thought about how I'll handle it in my books that are set in this world. What do you think about that?
There's also the fantasy allegory, such as Narnia or The Door Within. I've thought about doing that, but, again, I feel like I'd be forcing it. What are your thoughts on Christian allegory?


message 6: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Georges  (tamarasinnamon) I like doing Christian allegory themes, but not necessarily Christian allegory story lines. I'm writing fantasy and what I'm trying to do is have a representation for something, like sin, but make it clear to the reader what it's supposed to represent. I got this idea from the author Frank Peretti who shows this kind of writing extremely well. Christian, but written in a way that's not preachy. This is easier to do in fantasy or fiction. :)


message 7: by Shantelle (last edited May 06, 2015 03:35PM) (new)

Shantelle So I just have to ask...what's wrong with a book being "preachy"?

I always feel a need to illuminate God and His truths in my stories... Not because "I'm a Christian and so I MUST", but because my faith is who I am!! My stories feel empty without my Savior and Friend in them! :) I want my stories to really touch hearts and souls, and glorify God!

I don't see any need to sort of hide our faith when we write. Who knows, it might encourage some fellow believers. Or show an unbeliever the Light--because God can absolutely put it in their hands if He so chooses.

Obviously, we must each just listen to God and write as He guides. I can't tell you what to do, like I just "know it all"! :p

But I must admit, I am confused why Christians are always complaining about preachy books and whatnot. Any answers for me?? :)


message 8: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Georges  (tamarasinnamon) Well, I'm an avid reader, and I totally agree with what you're saying. I'm not saying I don't want there to be any mention of conversion or sharing the gospel, those are awesome things to have in the book. What I don't like are the typical, cheesy, preachy scenes that don't progress the story or even if they do are just not believable.
I think I should define "preachy" in my eyes. Preachy for me is when the writer has the typical lost soul meeting the Christian and having "the talk". Half the time this breaks the reader away from the story and they're disoriented when you get back to it. There are some books that have dealt with the connversion scene very well, they were moving, powerful, and inspiring while not taking away from the story. To be believable and not cheesy the story beforehand has to progress towards that point. I don't like when the character has no struggles with his faith after the conversion, or doesn't need advice. This just gives the "perfect Christian" look that drives people away. I also don't like to even think about it as a conversion, it's a relationship with Christ and that should be very clear.
So ultimately, I am very strong on the point that your book should be clearly Christian, no doubt about that. But, I'm always careful about how I approach it. I want it to be written from my heart and not just following a script for how you should live. I hope you guys understand where I'm coming from and that there's no confusion as to what I'm saying.


message 9: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (last edited May 06, 2015 06:27PM) (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
Tamara and Astrid are right, but I'd also like to add that for me, preachiness is when it's shoved in your face. If its way over-done, it becomes unbelievable to me. It feels fake. That's what I don't like. I have absolutely nothing against books that have Christians, Christianity, God, etc. in them, as long as its still well written, and, as Tamara said, adds to the story rather than taking away from it.

The reason I haven't really put any Christianity in my books is because, so far, none of them are in the real world and I'm afraid that, while translating God into another world/setting, I will somehow mess it up. I have one story idea that is set during the time of Jesus (it's about Judas actually), and I'm almost too afraid to write it, for that very reason. Do you get what I'm saying?


message 10: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
Right! exactly!
I'm glad you understand! Thank you!


message 11: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Georges  (tamarasinnamon) Ahhhh, you guys put my perspective into words so much better!!! ;) Sometimes I find it very hard to describe what I believe, when it's more of a feeling or conviction than anything else. I'm definitely trying to let my message flow instead of forcing it in somewhere.


message 12: by Zac (new)

Zac (zacthesnarkyrambler) | 13 comments Lena, you took the words right out of my mouth!!

Preachiness, to me, is when a story relies entirely on spreading the Gospel, rather than lacing it into the plot. That really just takes away the enjoyment of reading the story in my opinion! I prefer to read books where the character(s) already have a relationship with God and claim to be Christians. I can handle that--actually, I really enjoy it. It feels real to me, like the author's faith speaking (rather than preaching) through the story.

Personally, in my writing, the faith element varies. If it's a speculative (fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural) story, it (the faith element) won't show as much as it would if I were writing a contemporary or mystery/thriller or historical story. It's easier for me to write about faith if it's in a more realistic setting. But I never make it heavy--I mean, if a non-Christian picks up my book, I don't want to bug them with too much religion. I want them to enjoy the story, too! So, even in my stories with realistic settings, the faith element is light, but I still try to make it feel real and lacking in cheesiness, for the Christian readers. ;)

But, in spite of the light (or little to no) faith element, I strive to write my stories completely for God. I mean, he gave me the talent of writing, so why shouldn't I use it for Him? That's just my opinion (my very, very long opinion).


message 13: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Georges  (tamarasinnamon) Well said Zac!! I'm really enjoying this discussion topic. :)


message 14: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (last edited May 06, 2015 07:39PM) (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
Very well put Zac!! :D

This really is a great topic! Thank you Anna! :)


message 15: by Shantelle (new)

Shantelle Ah, great responses!!

@Tamara... yes, I do get what you're saying about the fake, cheesy scenes! I was wondering if that was maybe what you were alluding to when you said "preachy". Okay, I understand now! Thanks! :)

Yeah...the faith should be real and deep. Or yes, it comes across as cheesy or forced.

Good points, guys! I understand where you're all coming from now... :)

I guess I just kind of get discouraged when people say they don't like preachy novels, because one of my stories definitely has a blatant Christian theme. But its just the story of my heart...kind of what I've been through and different struggles and issues...so I don't feel it would be "preachy", but... whatever. I guess we just all strive to write for the glory of God and then trust Him with the rest!! :) :)

Blessings all!


message 16: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
For me anyway, if a book feels genuine (like if its true :) ) it won't feel preachy, for the most part. :D


message 17: by Shantelle (new)

Shantelle Aww, thanks, guys!! That definitely encourages me! :)

Okay, yeah, I get that! Thanks for the clarification, :) That is something we'd want to avoid!!


message 18: by Zac (new)

Zac (zacthesnarkyrambler) | 13 comments Adding a few more thoughts here... :D

I think a story about a character finding God can be just as entertaining as any other book, if well-written and thought out. (A good example of this would be Anomaly by Krista McGee) If a Christian is writing a book in hopes of introducing the reader (if not saved) to Christ, it needs to be done carefully and gently, otherwise the reader might feel like you're forcing the religion and need for Christ down their throat. So it MUST be done right. That's the way I look at it, anyways! :)

Also, I LOVE Christian Allegory, especially fantasy-allegory. To me, it shows Christ without...SHOWING Christ. Does that make sense? (I hope it does...LOL) It brings light to the Christian faith, salvation, hope...so many things, and it doesn't take away from the story--it's vital to it. :) When I write fantasy, I always look for an allegorical theme to weave through the story (again, without being heavy on religion or preachy)!

BTW, I can totally see where you're coming from, Shantelle! I've tried writing full-on secular stories, but they all seem dry without putting Christ in them, and I always end up adding a faith element. I come from a very religious family (P.K. here...high five to anyone who knows what that means!! ;D), so I was taught to seek Christ out in all things...I guess that includes my writing! LOL. (BTW congrats on getting your novella pubbed!!!!!!!! I bet you're so excited!! I can't wait to read it!!)


message 19: by Aɳɳα (last edited May 07, 2015 04:11AM) (new)

Aɳɳα I'm kind of late on this, but to me we SHOULD incorporate our Christianity into our writing, and like Shantelle said, Jesus is our life and best friend, so it is inevitable that Christianity will be in our writing!
But I must define what I meant as preachy. To me preachy is when an author throws it in your face by devoting whole pages to it, veering from the plot.
And, like Tamara said, it usually ends up being pretty cheesy! :D
And I love Christian Allegory! If it is done right! There are some Christian allegories that are written very well, and it doesn't seem cheesy. (for example: Bark of the Bog Owl) But then there are just some that are not done so well, and they are a pain to read!
So that's my opinion! :D
Oh, and Zac, I get PK! ;)


message 20: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
Wow, y'all are doing a great job of explaining this! Such a great discussion! :)

High five, Zac! ;) Some of my best friends are PKs!


message 21: by Kendra (new)

Kendra Ardnek | 114 comments As a mainly-fantasy writer, I want my faith to shine through in all of my writing, but I don't want it to be preachy - and it is a difficult balance to hit.

Frankly, I have some problems with the "morals" approach (though I have done a bit of it):
First of all, remember Phil Vischer (sp?) creator Veggietales? He pulled out a few years ago and instead began the "What's in the Bible" series. You see, he realized that Veggietales - powerful tool though they were - only taught morals, it didn't teach the power of the Gospel.

Because unless there is a Christ-caused change of heart, all the morals in the world will only serve to make a person a more acceptable sinner. Morals - or the law - is there to convict of sin, and you need Christ to change the heart.

Besides, a fantasy culture WITHOUT any form of religion is a bit unrealistic. It is human nature to create gods for themselves - so we may as well give our characters the Real God.

But when I write, I try to make my message and the story each hingent on each other, so that you can't separate them without damaging either one. When I show Christ through fantasy, I focus on one aspect or another, because as Narnia puts it "By knowing him a little there, we may know him better here." Sometimes I don't even include a Christ character, because I know it will bog down the story. My Bookania Quests have the Author, but because of the dynamic of their world, I don't have a Jesus. The story doesn't need it, and I have other books to tell that side of the story.

But, above all, it has to feel natural - it must vibrate through the very fiber of the story, even when you aren't even talking about it. The writing adage "Show don't tell" is MOST applicable here. Don't tell your readers about Christ, show him in your characters, your world, your story.

But remember you need your Edmunds and Eustaces. You need to show your readers that God loves them despite their flaws, and not that they have to be perfect Elsie Dinsmores to earn grace. Indeed, you don't even have to have your characters conquer all of their inner demons - because sin is a struggle we'll take to the grave, in some form or another.

And ... I apologize if this is getting a bit long but ... my thoughts!


message 22: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
You've got some great thoughts there, Kendra!

Good point about every culture needing religion - I hadn't thought about that before. But if you take LotR for example, there isn't really any religion in those books, yet their author was a devout Christian, and the books are wonderful!

And like you said, a lot of it depends on the story: how much you can include and in what forms, etc..


message 23: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
Now that I think of it, I may have a wizard who is kind of the "higher being".... I'll have to keep thinking about that...


message 24: by Aɳɳα (last edited May 07, 2015 08:10AM) (new)

Aɳɳα Wow, Kendra! Those are some really good thoughts!

So I need your opinions. I am writing a book that is dystopia. Do you think in a dystopia kind of society there should be religion?


message 25: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
I agree with Astrid on that one. That's a great song, too! :)


message 26: by Shantelle (new)

Shantelle @Zac, thanks so much!! I am super excited about publishing my first book (novella)!! :) :)

@Astrid, thanks for the encouragement!! <3 And I agree! That Britt Nicole song is very inspiring! "Don't be afraid to stand out"!! Sometimes I get caught up in that!

I enjoy reading all of your guys's thoughts! Another thing I want to add... when I read a book, I want to relate to the characters. So if there is no faith in the book, sometimes I have a hard time. I like it when there's a strong theme of faith; like, the main character is struggling with needing to control/not surrendering to God. I'm like, "Hey, that's what I'm going through! I totally relate!" And at the end of the book I might be like, "Wow, that really helped and encouraged me in my own walk!"

And in my own fantasy story, I have my main character struggle a lot with feeling unlovable/having niggling doubts about God's love and power concerning her. I want readers to be able to connect with her and see her kind of like a real person struggling with real issues. No, she's not a "perfect Christian". Yes, she doubts, she messes up, she fails. But in the end, she goes back to God, because He's continually and gently drawing her to Him.

*Shrug* I don't know. I want to touch people's hearts. Not push "religion" on them. My book might have a lot about God in it, but its real. It's reflecting my walk, my struggles, real issues.... Plus with a fun and adventurous fantasy theme. :D

Happy writing, guys!! It's been fun chatting with everyone! :) :)


message 27: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
Souds like you've got it down! Your book sounds exactly like the kind of Christian books I like to read! Real, and not forced! :)


message 28: by Kendra (new)

Kendra Ardnek | 114 comments Lena wrote: "You've got some great thoughts there, Kendra!

Good point about every culture needing religion - I hadn't thought about that before. But if you take LotR for example, there isn't really any religi..."


That is a good point about LotR - but the story itself was about the battle of Good vrs. Evil, and no matter how dark it may grow, there's still reason to fight for the right, and Tolkien himself had worked out where God was and it shone through in his writing.

Aηηα wrote: "Wow, Kendra! Those are some really good thoughts!

So I need your opinions. I am writing a book that is dystopia. Do you think in a dystopia kind of society there should be religion?"


As Astrid said, there's no book that needs Christ more than a dystopia - and you can look to history for inspiration, say to the Soviet Union. Perhaps the society as a whole is encouraged to forgo such superstitious nonsense as religion, perhaps even to the point of persecution. Just a suggestion, because I have NO idea what your book is about, but a springboard perhaps.


message 29: by Shantelle (new)

Shantelle Lena wrote: "Souds like you've got it down! Your book sounds exactly like the kind of Christian books I like to read! Real, and not forced! :)"

Thanks, Lena! :)


message 30: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Georges  (tamarasinnamon) You guys have been so inspiring!!! Thank you for all your aeesome thoughts and opinions!!! :)


message 31: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
This has really been a great discussion!! :)


message 32: by Aɳɳα (new)

Aɳɳα Your welcome! You guys have such great insight!


message 33: by Lavay (last edited Jul 27, 2015 04:55PM) (new)

Lavay Byrd | 73 comments WOW! I've been reading your discussions and it made me think a lot! I even thought about not adding the word "Christian" in my genre because it might turn people off. But then, I had a discussion with my dad, and he pointed out that without indicating "Christ", readers might take the message of my stories the wrong way.

Also, it shouldn't be about the author/writer or the reader. We as "Christian" writers should be writing for GOD'S glory, not our own! I had to learn that for myself, and I'd thought I'd share it.

Like what everyone else said, the message in our works shouldn't be forced, like the many religions around us. Christianity shouldn't be a "religion". It's about relationships between God, us, and others around us.

Personally, I would prefer the term "Follower of Christ" rather than Christian. I guess that's why I kind of hesitated to call myself a "Christian Fantasy Author".

Then again, it's shorter and simpler than saying "Follower-of-Christ" Fantasy Author. Imgagine saying that in one sentence! LOL!


message 34: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
That's a good point about Follower-of-Christ!! ;)
It's a fine line between appealing to non-Christians, and portraying yourself as non-Christian. I think we do need to be careful about that! :)


message 35: by Lavay (new)

Lavay Byrd | 73 comments Lena wrote: "That's a good point about Follower-of-Christ!! ;)
It's a fine line between appealing to non-Christians, and portraying yourself as non-Christian. I think we do need to be careful about that! :)"


You're so right.


message 36: by Sierra (new)

Sierra Faith (bookaddict_98) | 190 comments Mod
Astrid wrote: "Just a little note for encouragement: No matter what you write, some people could be turned off by it. What any writer really believes has a way of seeping into their stories one way or another. W..."

I totally agree with that Astrid!!

I personally prefer to put Christianity into my writing.... I am a Christian and I want people to know that.


message 37: by Aɳɳα (new)

Aɳɳα I agree with all of you guys! As I have been writing my book, I have tried to incorporate my beliefs into it, and I think it is coming along well! :D I agree with Sierra: I am a Christian and I want people to be able to tell in my writing.
BTW, I am so glad I started this topic!


message 38: by Lavay (new)

Lavay Byrd | 73 comments Astrid wrote: "Just a little note for encouragement: No matter what you write, some people could be turned off by it. What any writer really believes has a way of seeping into their stories one way or another. W..."

Wow, Astrid! Thank you so much that encouragement. It made me think of that one saying, "You can't please everyone." Now, I realize I can only please God.

And thanks Anna for starting this topic!


message 39: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
Great advice Astrid!
We're glad you started this too, Anna!! :D


message 40: by Aɳɳα (new)

Aɳɳα :D Good discussion and insight!


message 41: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Fusaro (SentinelAuthor) | 13 comments I recently attended the Creation NorthEast Festival, for those of you who don't know it is a big week-long Christian Concert/Festival, and I came across a group known as Sacred Ink.
I had an opportunity to speak with their Executive Director about what they do. They are a big Christian Writing Advocacy Group basically. They approach secular authors about including subtle Christian themes or elements into their stories, they also work with Christian authors. They said that they found the most positive impact was gained when the authors kept the Christian style impact out of the spotlight, but rather by letting it be an undercurrent. He used an example of a character running from some antagonist and running into a church, a small scene, but the owner or manager of the church would be portrayed in a positive light and behave as a Christian is called to do. Little things like that he said had the most impact.
I told him that was a bit too subtle for my taste. He told me that some of their authors had even gone so far as to include Christianity under another name as a positive influence on their protagonist. It's a great way I feel to show forth your Christian belief without allowing the secular influence in people's minds to start flashing red.


message 42: by Aɳɳα (new)

Aɳɳα wow! Those are some good ideas! Thanks for sharing!


message 43: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
That sounds cool! I guess that's kind of what I am doing in my book, except it's fantasy, so there's not really Christianity, per se...


message 44: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Fusaro (SentinelAuthor) | 13 comments Mine is Fantasy too, the Sentinels' Epic. What I did was I revised the names of history and change the way the continents formed, (though I never say that, because in the story there is no other way they could have been made. ;) ) And I have a belief system known as the Corson Way. It's a veiled form of Christianity and it allows me to minister and allows me to make my own world history after the times of the Book of Word. I have a whole page on my website that describes the belief systems of the Sentinels' Universe: http://www.sentinelsepic.com/#!verite...


message 45: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
That sounds really interesting!!


message 46: by Merenwen (new)

Merenwen Inglorion | 39 comments Oh, wow, great topic! :D
I'm not through reading all the posts yet, but because today might be hectic and I may not get a chance to post for a day or two, I'll post now.

I love Christian allegory, subtle and obvious. Depends on what I'm in the mood for. ;)

When I write, I tend towards the more obvious allegory (a Christ-like figure, a single true Deity), but then I read it over a few times, bang my head, and go, "What the heck was I thinking?" :P

What are some things you can do to make allegory plainly obvious to the Christian, but not preachy to the non Christian?


message 47: by Lavay (new)

Lavay Byrd | 73 comments "What are some things you can do to make allegory plainly obvious to the Christian, but not preachy to the non Christian? ."

I like Christian allegory too!

One way to make an allegory obvious to the Christian is by having characters "symbolize" biblical characters.

My children's book series, for example, called "Light Horse Dark Horse", is somewhat of an allegory, but not too obvious.

You can check them out here


message 48: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Georges  (tamarasinnamon) Have any of you read works by Flannery O Conner? I think she does a great job with portaying underlying Christian themes without being to blatant but also making it obvious. Even though she was a Catholic, I feel like she depicts the truth of the Bible very clearly, and I love that. :)


message 49: by Lena, Shot through the heart, and you're to blame (new)

Lena (lenakarynn) | 1526 comments Mod
P.H. wrote: "Just uploaded The Bow of Destiny to Amazon for release on 9/28. Everyone's welcome to check it out on my page and shelve as interested! Thanks for shelving to those who already have. :)"

Hey, that's great, but it doesn't quite fit this thread topic. Could you please move it to this thread? Thanks!!


message 50: by P.H. (new)

P.H. Solomon (phsolmon) | 28 comments Lena wrote: "P.H. wrote: "Just uploaded The Bow of Destiny to Amazon for release on 9/28. Everyone's welcome to check it out on my page and shelve as interested! Thanks for shelving to those who already have. :..."

Sorry about that...


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