Monday, April 14, 2014

Driven Fiction: Should the message propel your story?

Almost all the Christian books I have read have a message woven into the story. It is one of my favorite parts about Christian fiction. I often come away from a good story not only having had a good time, but also blessed. So the question arises: Is okay to start with a message you want to convey and let it drive the story?

All books can be broken down into three categories. Plot driven (the adventure propels the story), character driven (a  person propels the story), and message driven (the topic propels the story). Every single book fits into one of these categorizes.

Message driven fiction has two huge issues with it. The first is that most people hate it. Readers who pick up fiction not might mind a well woven message into the story, but it the message is that is driving your fiction, it tends to come out sounding like a lecture or sermon. People are likely not hear the message or finish the book, because they will be turned off.

Second issue with message driven fiction, is it usually turns out to be poorly written fiction. It is not because the author lacks talent, but it is because when you are focus on the message, characters and plot tend to suffer. Characters become stereotypes to showcase an aspect of the lesson, the plot because irritatingly predictable because once your readers get the message, they have figured out where your story is going.

Does that mean we should stop caring about the message in our stories? Far from it. Instead, we should focus on writing a wonderful story, and let the message come out naturally.

Yes, this can be scary. I was a third of the way into my latest story, A Different Kind of Courage, before I knew what the message was. I worried that my book would lack the faith element and lesson that were so important with me. However, as the story developed, the message emerged clearly.

As writers, we should never let the message propel our story, we should let God lead us and let it come out as we write.

 Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of four published books and counting. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

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