Monday, November 18, 2013

Inspired Writing, Food for the Soul

By Jono Hale on CreationSwap
I looked important, with my satchel filled with books and manuscripts, and my nifty note-cards outlining my speech. And in a classroom filled with fifth graders, I might have seemed pretty important. My first talk as an “author” (without the publishing contract...yet), was a couple of weeks ago. I was told to bring along what I read as a child, explain how reading inspires writing, and what goes into writing a good story.

It wasn't long before this engagement, that I had visited my oldest son's middle school book fair. Let me tell you, I was a little shocked at the novels that seemed to replace the content of my own middle school reads. Yeah, you aren't suppose to judge a book by its cover, and that is exactly what I was doing. But let's face it, how many eleven year-olds don't?

What was displayed was dark and depressing individuals who might have come out of a Bram Stoker novel. Now, I am the first to say I love good drama. Tragedy? You bet! Heck, I played a couple of Shakespearean heroines in my time. But I think I might have had nightmares if I walked into that book fair a couple decades ago.
By Kyle Reed on CreationSwap

So back to the fifth grade classroom. With that book fair experience fresh in my mind, what should I say?

I decided to encourage the kids to seek out books that lift them up, not bring them down. In these uneasy times, it seems kids need that more than ever. I think as writers sharing the gospel, we should consider this not only for young impressionable minds, but to share the love of Christ to all our audiences. After all, His story is one of Victory and Light. Even in a tumultuous tale with depraved characters and deplorable circumstances, shouldn't we sew in a thread of Light?

As inspirational writers, there are a couple of things we should consider with each tale we weave:

Good vs. Evil. We all know that even fiction can shape how a reader views the world and possibly affect what choices they make. That might be the main reason most of us write it! Whether it is a contemporary  novel with a materialistic antagonist botching a selfless protagonist's plan for a charity event, or an historical romance with a ruthless slave owner and a battered wife running for her life, Good vs. Evil is a universal theme that always works. Story conflict, black moments, and character lies/development win big with Good vs. Evil in mind. And in my own opinion, there is nothing wrong with writing a book where Good wins. After all, it is true...or at least it will be. ;)
By Rich Aguilar on CreationSwap

What Goes In, Will Come Out. If you feed your reader's heart junk, then it will eventually show in their actions and their words. Write what lifts them up, what sheds Truth, even in fiction, so their soul is continuously fed veggies and trans fat allowed! For us discerning adults, this is certainly a matter of opinion. When I considered the age group of readers I spoke to, I emphasized this in the books they chose to read. It reminded me of myself at their age. After I had read a certain series on pre-teens who cared more about their clothes than their friends, I walked away with a lens of materialism, even if it eventually wore off. Grown-up novels minus the soul veggies might do the same to an adult reader. We see how impressionable viewers of movies and t.v. shows have become in today's culture, be certain that our writing might change a reader's perception too. As writers, let us feel responsible to feed our readers the best soul food we can cook up!

By Marian Trinidad on CreationSwap
When I left the classroom, the teacher gave me a mug which stated, “Dreams Come True”. Ah, I so hoped it would be a sign that a publishing contract is waiting just around the corner. But as I sit here and think about it, part of my dream really did come true that day in the classroom. I had the chance to inspire young readers to seek out the Good...and eventually, open a book inspired by the Perfect Author of our lives. What better dream come true is that?

When you write a story, do you consider Good vs. Evil in the initial plotting? Have you read any fiction lately that provides good soul food? Please share with us!
Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous, mothering days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across historical cultures and social boundaries. Angie is an ACFW member and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.


Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Love the concept of "sewing in a thread of light", even in a dark story. This is what I love to do!

Also the line about feeding our readers "the best soul food we can cook up!"

I always pray over my words that they'll be anointed by God. I heard Jentezen Franklin speak at Hillsong conference years ago, and one line he said has always stuck in my memory. "I don't want fancy words without the anointing."

Yes - THAT. That's my constant prayer!!

Love that you had this opportunity!

Angie Dicken said...

Thanks, Karen! It is so important to be sure that our words are in God's will, isn't it? I just read in James, "If anyone thinks himself religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless." I think this also applies to the written word and not just the words that come from our mouth.
We have a mighty task as inspirational writers, but God is great and will help us if we ask!
Love ya!

Glynis said...

I too have middle-school aged kids and some of the series out there for that age of reader is just atrocious! I try to find--and write--stories that uplift and encourage. I feel called to spread God's hope, not despair, and it seems like a lot of fiction today has to be "edgy" which to me is just depressing! We can be real and inspirational at the same time. Thank you so much for this post today. It is JUST what I needed to hear!

Angie Dicken said...

So glad you are encouraged by this post, Glynis! I agree, we can be real and inspirational at the same time...actually, authenticity is a must when revealing truth! Thanks so much for stopping by!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Great post, Angie. Yes, making sure light is stitched through the real life aspects of my stories is something I want to do. We are accountable for our words, and I suspect it could include those that we write for others to read/hear.

I recently read Take a Chance On Me by Susan May Warren. I loved how she wove good (God) themes into her story.

Angie Dicken said...

Ooh, I will have to read that. Thanks for the recommendation, Jeanne!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Great post! I do think what we read from early on, too, and the light or darkness we put in our lives has a major effect on our writing. When an author weaves well...its beautiful...when it isn't done well, its kind of like that police floodlight that does the job but overdoes and really hurts your eyes.Fortunately I think we are seeing less of that in today's fiction.

Angie Dicken said...

True, Julia! Or, no floodlight, but a dull flicker that seems like an after thought to keep the book in CBA. A challenge I have often considered is to write a book that only shows God, and doesn't the book of Esther. One day, maybe!