How to Write Faith-based Messages for a Secular Market (Book Review)
Here is another exciting (I hope) book review by Yours truly, on another fantastic non-fiction writing booklet by the author of “How to Write Clean and Scintillating Romance”, Mary Gray. A wonderful friend, fellow writer, and Christian, she is not afraid to take a stand on what is right and wrong both on and off the page.
This booklet is titled “How to Write Faith-based Messages for a Secular Market”. This dynamic booklet goes above and beyond to lead the reader—writer or not—to strengthen their faith by diving into the Word of God and by prayer, how to promote and portray godly, timeless truths in our writing without being preachy, and tells us how to stay resilient against the adversary, Satan. That mean ol’ devil does not want us Christian writers to get our books published!!
Mary Gray takes examples from various authors—Jane Austen, Victor Hugo, Lucy M. Montgomery, Fyodor Dostoevsky and more—as she demonstrates how one could weave Christian morals, values,and truths into a story’s plot without being overt, annoying, and pushy. Tactics she suggested included:
1. Use a sub-plot/foil character as the opposite side of your protagonist. E.g., if your main character is mainly evil, and goes through a change(s) to become a repentant, renewed individual at the end, have this foil character guide him/her/them to the truth during that changing process.
2. Make the two plots—the main character’s plot-line and the foil character’s subplot—intersperse. That’s how the morals and values could rub off from the good guy and motivate and influence the bad guy to change for the better. But to do just this would be boring. So we add number three.
3. Use try and fail cycles. Having these up, up, fall, up up up fall scenes and cycles helps to show the severity—and the importance—of the protagonist’s change. Doing so would create a meaningful, satisfying, and interesting character arc.
But my favorite sections—actually two sections—has to be the first chapter and last two chapters. These precious pages are beneficial and life-changing not only to Christian writers, but all Christian communicators and fellow Christ-followers. We all need to fill our spiritual wells. and we all need to know how to communicate God’s love, truth,and justice to our non-believing friends without coming off as preachy fanatics. Here Mary Gray gives a fantastic piece of advice that would boost your spiritual well immediately. Here it is.
“Set aside a regular time when you can read God’s word without any distractions.”
This is very important. Sometimes life catches up on us too fast and too sudden, and poof, we’ve let go of our precious quiet time with God without knowing it. This is intolerable!! We are obligated to read our Bibles and pray every single day. No wiggling out of this one. No denying, or raking up excuses of “not having enough time”. For Christian writers, this is even more important. The only way to write things that God would approve of, bless, and be proud of—and things that Satan hates with his very soul—is to read the Bible every single day. And pray hard. There’s no shortcut here, people. It’s our calling. It’s our duty. Now…Do it!!
But the fact is, as time goes by, writers get disappointed. The writing’s hard. Marketing is hard. Life is crashing down on us. We are barely able to scrape together time to write anything we would not be ripping right back out. Our time with the Lord has become strained with unanswered prayers and Spirit/Flesh struggles. Know what? Satan wants to break you down and beat you up. He wants you to stop writing godly fiction and non-fiction novels. Your resilience is slipping away. What should you do?
Mary gives us a few tips and ideas—tested by time and experience—that you and I can begin to incorporate into our lives to day.
1. Read scriptures and pray.
2. Serve your neighbors and forgot your own troubles in the meantime. This helps to get you out of the rut you’ve fallen (and sometimes dug yourself) into.
3. Do some exercise. This really works—I read it, tried it, now I know it and promote it!!
4. Acknowledge your set backs and struggles. Write whatever it is down somewhere, or talk to a friend you trust.
One big and final nugget of truth in this little book—besides the ones I’ve just gone through—is that every story has a message, and that some people will be angry no matter what you write. The first part of the italicized section is definitely true—I can accept that. Who would want to read a story without a message?
But that second part is…true. Not everyone is going to like what you write. Some would hate it. Some would become angry. It’s hard to stomach that sobering fact—that the baby you’ve slaved over for years will be discarded, ripped apart, laughed at, and mistreated by those against your message– God’s message. All writers have loyal readers and not-so-loyal (to put it mildly) readers. But the question is—does your story’s message pass God’s checkpoint?
What does it matter if you’ve written something that glorifies God, honors Him, and that He approves of, though the world hate your book and all men laugh at you?
This book would help you to write fiction that is God-honoring, bears faith-based messages, and is not “churchy” or preachy at the same time.
Below is a brief summary of the book (taken from the book’s Kobo page)
And here are links to various booksellers. Just click the links, and download this wonderful book!! It’s free(on Kobo, at least), and it could change your writing and Christian life…it has changed mine!!