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The Bird's Word

The Bird's Word

Errors Writers Make and How to Fix Them, Part 5

Posted by Cindy on October 21, 2013 at 8:30 AM

This is the fifth installment of a series that all started because Chila Woychik of Port Yonder Press asked for opinions on what makes most Christian fiction so bad.  I, being a bit of a turkey, suggest that these problems are more pervasive than the usual Christian fiction. I see them in secular fiction, too. So, here is Part 5.

Preaching Without a Pulpit

PROBLEM: A lot of stories have a central theme, and some have a moral for the story.  There's a point the author is hoping you take away from it.  The problem comes when the point being preached (you need Jesus, drunk driving is bad, sexual sin is wrong, everyone should eat more donuts, whatever) is crammed in there rather than flowing naturally from the characters or the plot.


FIX:  Put down the shoe-horn.  If the preachin' fits the plot and comes naturally from the characters, okay.  If not, cramming it in there is not going to help your story.  It's okay, really, to have a story that honors God without having an altar call.  You can demonstrate the severe hazards of drunk driving without someone going on for several pages about it. 

If you're familiar with my works so far, you'll remember that book I wrote that has the Come to Jesus subplot in there.  It came about from the natural interaction of the characters. One of them was trying to support another one through her illness and along the way learned that he didn't have to carry a ten-ton suitcase full of guilt around for a mistake he'd made.  Several persuasions of non-Christians have given me the feedback that I handled that subplot in a non-preachy way.

So, there's no problem with having a serious message about something, whether that something is religion, a social ill, or the joy of sugary, fried bread.  Just leave your soapbox in the garage.

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