Now You Can Write Christian Fiction Too
Admit it. You’ve been awake past midnight on more than one occasion, deeply entrenched in a novel that you couldn’t possibly put down until you knew how it ended. Maybe it was a Francine Rivers romance that had you falling in love. Perhaps it was a Ted Dekker book that took your breath away. If you’re like me, it was probably something thought provoking like everything ever written by C. S. Lewis. One thing is certain: you couldn’t sleep.
The words you were reading weren’t telling just any old story. They were talking about you personally. They made you think about what you were doing with your life, how you were living it, and how you could make it better.
And then the next morning while you were eating your breakfast you had another thought. “I could write a novel too. I could help make people’s lives better. In fact, I think I will some day.” And I am here to tell you that you were right! You can write a novel and I am here to help you do just that.
Your Words Can Have Meaning
The first book I ever attempted to write didn’t make it to a thousand words. I had a great concept in my mind, one that I had been thinking about for days, but when I sat down to type it out I realized it wasn’t going anywhere. It was garbage. I immediately put it out of my sight and hid myself from such thoughts for three full weeks.
It didn’t matter. The writing bug had bit and I was going to write a novel no matter how much failure I had to fight. It was too important to me to give it up. I had something important to say and I wasn’t going to stop until it was finished.
So I slugged it out. It took me four months to write The Dream and three more to edit, market, and publish my first novel. But there was one thing I wish I had done differently through that seven month long process. I wish I had someone there to help me through all the pit stops and dead ends along the way. That’s why I’m writing this, because you want someone to help you along the way, believe me.
There Is Nothing Stopping You Now
Every actor wants to see their name on a movie poster. Every musician gasps the first time they see their name in lights. And there’s nothing quite as exciting for an author than the first time they have a box of books arrive at their front door with their name on the front cover.
It means even more for a writer of Christian fiction, I think, because we know that it means that we have contributed to something bigger and more important than us. When I see my name on my books, it means that I have the opportunity to connect with someone that I wouldn’t have been able to connect with otherwise. I’m able to share a piece of my experience with God with someone who I will likely never reach in any other way.
And now you have the opportunity to share what God has given you through the gift of Christian literature. And it’s not as tricky as it seems.
See How Easy It Is To Write Christian Fiction With These Seven Simple Steps
Writing anything takes a lot of hard work for most of us, but if you follow these tips it will save you the trouble of swimming upstream in your efforts to write Christian fiction. This can work for an epic novel, a short story, or anything in between. Let’s get started right now.
1) Know God
This should sound ridiculous, but abiding in Christ is the most important “research” a Christian fiction writer can ever do. This step isn’t what will gain you popularity with the world or shoot your work up the sales charts, but it is the most important step in making you a success. You don’t have to be a perfect person to write Christian fiction. If you did, none of us would have written our first words. But you do need to be walking with Jesus Christ in order to have your work mean anything when it comes to eternity. Writing Christian fiction should be an outpouring of the love that God has placed in your heart, nothing else. We must always start with knowing God, then we can move on to the next step.
2) Create and Pursue a Goal in Christian Fiction
You won’t get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going. When I started writing Christian fiction, all I wanted to do was write a single book. I didn’t think about becoming a best selling novelist, a famous author, or continuing to come up with new character ideas for the rest of my life. I just wanted to publish a book. The process was such an adventure that I had to learn to adapt to the realization that I will never be able to stop writing Christian fiction.
Decide for yourself what your goal will be. Maybe you do want to be a best selling author. It isn’t easy, but it is possible. You might just want to write a single book like I did. Maybe you enjoy writing short stories and would like to publish them online for the world to see. Maybe you want to learn how to tell stories better so that you can communicate the love of Christ in other ways. Whatever it is, write out your goal, and go for it.
3) Choose a Sub-Genre Within Christian Fiction.
Wait. Isn’t Christian Fiction a good enough genre as it is? Why should you bother with coming up with a sub-genre? Simply because “Christian Fiction” itself isn’t really a genre at all, it’s a different kind of classification altogether. Christianity is the theme, but by no means is it the setting or style.
Not everyone who loves Christian romance is going to love Christian science fiction, just like not everyone who loves Christian rock and roll loves Christian hip hop. It isn’t that they won’t support you in theory, they’re happy that other Christians enjoy that kind of thing, but that doesn’t mean that it works for them.
There are two main things to consider when choosing a sub-genre to write within Christian fiction.
a) Which Genres Appeal to You as a Writer?
The last thing you want to is write something that bores you personally. Work within the confines of what appeals to you as a reader, then work from there.
b) Which Genres are Popular in Market?
If you want to write Christian steampunk, go ahead, but it might not be the easiest book to sell. Go to the Christian section of any bookstore (I prefer looking these things up at the Amazon Kindle store) and find what’s popular. It won’t take you long to see what Christian readers are picking up. This should help you find something that you enjoy writing while finding a potential audience at the same time.
Once you have found a genre that both you and the public enjoy, it is time to move onto the next step in the process, developing a story!
4) Create an Outline.
This is the step that I skipped on my first novel that I wish I hadn’t. The furthest I ever got on outlining The Dream was coming up with chapter names with the foggiest ideas about what might happen in each of them. I had no character development before I started writing my characters! Here are what I believe to be the most critical aspects of writing an outline.
a) Create a File or Series of Files For Your Outline
Personally, I use and love Scrivener for all of my novel writing and outlining. It can be used on either Mac or Windows computers and it has a special section just for outline notes!
b) Choose a Working Title
If you’re writing a book, I must conclude that you have some sort of idea that has come to mind that you would like to write. This is the time to come up with a title that you believe will stand out from the crowd and make a lasting impact. You may get halfway through your book and realize a better title might suit your work, but you have to start somewhere.
c) Create a Story Board
This is a little trick I picked up from watching way too many bonus commentaries of Disney and Pixar movies when my daughter was too young to realize the words didn’t match up with the fuzzy blue animal and little green eyeball. Some authors like to have plenty of freedom in their writing, others write outlines that are in greater depth than their actual book, but everyone should have some sort of idea of where their book is going and how it is going to get there.
A story board is where you map out your chapters and scenes within chapters in order to see how your story will progress. This is the time to make sure your book won’t hit a dead end in chapter seven. Make sure you have plenty of material to work with before you get started or you might suffer from such a catastrophe.
d) Develop Characters
You don’t have to know everything about your characters before you write about them. To me, half the fun is in finding out more about your characters as you go along. But it is important to know a little bit about them, including their personality traits and their goals in the story, before you begin writing your story. This will help you stay focused in your writing without messing up continuity.
When your outline is set, it is time to move on to the part that we all love the most. You will want to revise your story board and character charts along the way, but it is finally time to start writing your work of Christian fiction!
5) Write. Edit. Write. Edit.
You’re here! I’m glad you made it this far, because this is where things get exciting. You will lose sleep. You will wake up in the middle of the night with an incredible idea. You will live your story in your mind and push it out through your soul as you type it onto the page.
If you’ve done your work up to this point, everything will be ten times easier than if you hadn’t. Keeping your creativity within the boundaries you set up in your outline will help keep you on track as your brain bursts forth with beautiful color. This is your chance to create a world where you can share your view on the world and all that God has to offer.
This is also the area where you will learn most about yourself as a person and as a writer. You will make mistakes. You will find flaws. You will adapt and grow and deepen your own relationship with God, which is really the point of it all anyway.
And this is what life is anyway. We do something. We learn from it. We make changes. Then we do something else. Writing is not all that different from the rest of our lives. This is your chance to express yourself and learn at the same time. Take advantage of it today.
We live in exciting times. No longer are there terrifying barriers to climb over in the publishing industry. Some of you may want to learn how to write to publishers and pitch them ideas. That’s fine, but it isn’t really my focus in this day and age.
Self-publishing is a grand adventure where you are in charge from point A to point Z. You will have to get a cover for your book, design the interior of your book, make sure everything is perfect, and hit publish all by yourself. It sounds daunting, but I have published five novels in less than two years and can’t wait to do it again.
We can talk about marketing and sales another time, but today I want to leave the focus on the writing aspect of Christian fiction, so I’ll leave this alone for now.
This post has been all about how you can start writing Christian fiction today, but I have something to tell you before you type those first words: this is only the beginning.
You’re probably feeling the same way you did on the first day of high school. A little excited, a lot nervous, and you think the bigger kids might pick on you. But the only thing you should be thinking about is how great it will be to step up and take on this challenge, because it will be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.
You have the opportunity to reach people all around the world with your words and you get to start that today.
We Can Work On This Together
I don’t want you to have to go through this alone. Christian fiction writing does not have to be a lonely road one takes in their own mind. The Christian faith is a community where we help each other through brave and daring attempts to spread the Gospel. I want to help you on your journey of writing as many others have helped me along the way.
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