A Christian Guide for Writing Fiction for Adults

A Christian Guide for Writing Fiction for Adults 1

Writing fiction for Christian readers can be incredibly rewarding. First of all, your content can be inspiring and soul-searching, and secondly, it’s a great privilege and a challenge to write a book that is both honouring God and satisfying to readers. Many Christian writers base their books on a much-loved historical figure, so they are writing ‘faction’; the content is based on a real person, but they are fleshing out the details to make it into a novel. Others write in different genres like ‘Romance’, ‘Thrillers’, and ‘Family Fiction’, but all with a Christian slant.  Some even write a novel based on a biblical character or event but fleshing out the details using research and imagination to make the story live in the reader’s mind.

My four-fold forays into the world of Christian adult fiction:

  1. Headlines in Heaven (Pegasus), where I invented a fictional angel, Raphael, who, as a journalist, was tasked with reporting on Jesus’ miracles for the heavenly hosts. Needless to say, there were many celebrations by the angels in heaven each time Jesus performed an earthly miracle.
  2. Crystal Island (Austin Macauley), where contestants on an island delve into some of the trickier questions that people always ask, like ‘Why is there suffering in the world? But far more is going on in that island than the ‘contestants’ realise, so the novel has elements of a thriller/crime novel, except that the reader doesn’t realise what’s going on till the end.
  3. Meltdown Miracles (Smashwords) which is a fantasy novel based on the initial spread of COVID-19 throughout the world.
  4. Firm Foundations (Smashwords) which is a personal story where the characters are faced with dealing with corruption.

All of these novels, with the possible exception of the third one, involved my doing frequent research and re-readings of biblical wisdom/accounts.  For any Christian writer wishing to inspire their readers, I believe that frequent references to the bible are essential.

My brief guide to writing fiction for a Christian audience:

1. Carefully consider your plot.

As a writer, you will need to consider all of the elements of a good plot (a seed near the beginning, building your story to a possible climax, presenting a problem, either having a resolution or a twist at the end), as a Christian writer you also need to take into account your audience: people of the Christian faith. So you need to be discerning about your choice of material. You don’t want to shock your readers too much by including unsavoury content that could be considered blasphemous. And while we do live in a fallen world where sin is rife, perhaps we don’t want to rub peoples’ noses in sinful behaviour, like, for example, a promiscuous character, unless, of course, there is a change in the story and the character reforms. But on the whole, we would be aiming to write about wholesome content which is God-honouring in some way.

2. Carefully consider your characters.

Yes, of course, you can include flawed characters. The world is full of them. Nobody’s perfect. But if you include evil characters in your fiction, make sure that they are there for a purpose. The good/evil conflict is the classic structure for a good story, but make sure your characters are believable, for example, that your ‘good’ character has some weaknesses, and your ‘bad’ character has some redeeming qualities. Maybe you can even make him have a 180-degree turn-around during the course of the story.

3. Carefully consider your themes.

This, of course, is vital for Christian fiction. You have a purpose for writing it, after all. The messages and ideas that you are presenting to your readers should, without being didactic, be at least wholesome, important, or even life-giving messages.

Happy fiction writing. I hope your book, when it’s published, makes a real difference to the readers you are trying to connect with.

Why forgiveness is essential to the Christian life

Why forgiveness is essential to the Christian life. A blog by Gillian Leggat.

Are you part of a Christian community?

Do you call yourself a Christian? Is your Christian faith truly genuine?

Then, forgiving others is non-negotiable.

There are many times in your Christian walk that you will feel wronged, hard done by and even betrayed. Yet you cannot afford to keep breeding resentment. It is absolutely essential that you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

Why is it so important to forgive?

If you are completely honest with yourself, you will come to the painful realisation that you have hurt many people and sinned against God with your actions – and lack of actions – words and thoughts. Think about all the times you have lied to someone or betrayed your confidence. Or said an unkind word. Or spread gossip or rumours in a deliberate attempt to blacken a person’s name. Or an uncharitable thought has popped into your head.

Try as we might not to do these things, we all fall into the trap of sin. Paul’s soul-searching comment in Romans highlights our failures: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3,23)


God forgives all our sins. Every single wrong thing we have ever done, every hurtful word we have ever uttered, every unsavoury thought that has ever crossed our minds.

How is it even possible that a perfect God who cannot tolerate sin in all its ugliness could do this? The answer, of course, is Jesus. The perfect God-man who loved the world so much that he took all their sins on his shoulders at the cross. He took your sins, my sins, and nailed them to the cross.

How can we not forgive others their sins against us when God, through his son, Jesus, has shown us such incredible grace and mercy?

The risks of not being willing to forgive

Having an unforgiving heart has all sorts of dangers: unforgiveness breeds resentment; it can poison your relationships, spreading rapidly like an aggressive cancer galloping through all your organs. It prevents you from being at peace with the person who has wronged you. It affects others as well, who might start avoiding the person who has wronged you, especially if they are part of their Christian community – they might also begin to keep you at arm’s length. Who wants to be around someone who is so bitter?  Even more alarmingly, it can destroy your peace, contentment and joy.

Jesus gives us a stern warning about the perils of unforgiveness: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 16, 14-15) In the light of this serious warning from Jesus, we cannot risk not to forgive those who have wronged us.

What is the cure?

The Benefits of Forgiving Others

Forgiving others is one of the best medicines in the world. It is so very healing. It’s a balm for your pain, hurt and confusion. When you forgive others, you are being obedient to the Father’s commands. You are drawing closer to his son, Jesus. You are shining a light in the world. And as a bonus, you are experiencing rich personal growth. Your spirituality seems to grow with each small act of forgiveness you perform.

So forever hard forgiveness is an essential part of your Christian faith. It takes practice, prayer and perseverance, but the benefits are life-giving: peace, contentment and joy in this present life, and the liberating promise of being forgiven by the Father and spending an eternity with him and his son, Jesus, the Saviour of the world.

So why don’t you follow Jesus’ example (Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke 23,34) and forgive others from your heart. With such a lot at stake, you cannot afford not to do just that.

The Importance of Book Fairs

The Importance of Book Fairs blog by Gillian Leggat

Writing is a solitary profession. You settle down in your favourite place to work, you practise the discipline of writing for so many hours a day, but you’re not DOING it with anyone. You’re in a place, by yourself, getting on with the task. You may have fellow writer friends whom you consult every now and again, but while you’re writing, you’re very much on your own.

This is where book fairs come in. It’s so good to be in a place with so many other like-minded people: readers, writers, publishers, illustrators. How wonderful. You can go and listen to other authors sharing their gems on discussion panels, informally chat with strangers in the room while you’re waiting for the event to start, or get feedback from them afterwards while sharing a glass of wine or buying the latest book.

A long time ago, there was a children’s book fair at the University of the Western Cape. I came down from Jo’burg to attend that event, and there is no doubt in my mind that the event launched my writing career….mainly because of some extremely useful connections I made. I had been writing for four years before that event and sending off my manuscripts here, there and everywhere. One of the lady publishers I met was launching a new Reading series for primary school children. She asked me to write stories for a number of different age groups. When I got home, I was so inspired – I wrote story after story. Sadly, that publisher never managed to get off the ground due to limited finances. But I sent all those stories off to Macmillan – 20 of those stories were included in their reading scheme. So, as I say, that book fair basically launched my writing career.  My story, Jabu and the Red Drum (Tafelberg), was also revised by a practising children’s author in a workshop session. It became my second children’s book.

Since then, I have attended many book fairs, none quite as useful for my career as that one, but all highly stimulating and encouraging. I will now outline why Book Fairs are so important in a writer’s life.

Making Connections at Book Fairs

At a good book fair, everyone who’s anybody in the publishing world is there, so you have the opportunity to meet a prospective publisher.

A host of authors who write in all sorts of different genres will be milling around. What a privilege it is to meet some fellow authors and connect with them.

Watching readers paging through books in the bookstall is always encouraging. If you do manage to speak to some fellow readers after events, in coffee shops or the bookshop, that’s a big bonus.

For me, making connections and networking is definitely the number one reason that I attend book fairs.

Attending talks that interest you.

Hearing how other writers conduct their craft is so stimulating, informative and interesting. If that writer is someone who is writing in my genre, I always take notes of pertinent details I think might be useful to me later. You can also broaden your horizons when you go to book fairs. There is so much variety and so many different events, so even if the talk/panel isn’t directly relevant to you, you can always learn something new/be stimulated by a new thought/fact, and maybe even get a new idea for a book.

Enjoying the camaraderie and the cuisine

Book fairs are usually places that are buzzing with life. There are so many people from all walks of life that you might bump into at the coffee stand or in a restaurant. Chance chats, surprising meetings – I’ve bumped into long-lost relatives at book fairs – delicious food and sheer fun.

What a privilege to attend events where everyone has one thing in common:


Enjoy your book fairs.



Ever wanted to write something new?

Completely different from anything you’ve written before.

A piece of writing that will energise you. Inspire you.

And yes. Keep you right on your toes.

If this is you –


And –


They might say:

Stick to what you know.

Don’t genre-hop, whatever you do.

If you’re used to writing non-fiction, stick to it.

Don’t think you can write a children’s story if you’ve only ever written adult fiction.

Don’t try writing fiction if your thing is fantasy.


My advice about your writing in different genres is to:

There’s nothing quite like a challenge to keep your brain firing on all cylinders.

So even if you’ve poured your heart and soul into perfecting, say, adult fiction, why not try your hand at:

  1. A memoir
  2. A magazine article
  3. An essay
  4. A poem


Stretch your creative muscles and enjoy yourself while you’re about it. Sure, you might never master one particular genre. You might, after all, go back to writing what you know. But if you try writing in various genres, you have very little to lose – except for your time – and a great deal to gain. You might, for example, discover that you’re BRILLIANT at a particular genre, a genre you might never have tried had you not EXPERIMENTED.


Think of the sheer satisfaction you’ll feel from being successful in multiple genres. Don’t listen to the critics, who might say:

              It’s ridiculous to think you can master more than one genre.

              How arrogant!

              How misguided.

              They could concentrate on improving on one area.

              It’s a disaster trying to be a jack-of-all-trades.

I would like to encourage all those sceptics and nay-sayers out there that it is possible to write successfully in more than one genre, even in multiple genres. And in all humility, I would like to share with you how I began experimenting with different genres.

My writing career began more than three decades ago when my three children were still very little, doing typical things that small children do: playing in the sandpit, splashing around in the bath, having a tug-of-war for a worn and battered teddy. I started to compose bedtime stories around their daily activities, stories like ‘Sammy’s new facecloth” (cringe), and “What’s that in the sand?” (more cringe), and “Bubbly foam slippers” (top of the cringe list).

I researched South African publishers, posted off my many offerings to them – I was very prolific -  then waited…and waited…and waited…for a response.

Needless to say, it was negative times hundreds. Rejected manuscripts started flooding the

 post office, until one seemingly ordinary day four years later, when I received the usual registered slip in my post box, I was in for a long-awaited piece of good news:


An actual CONTRACT. For my first book, a humorous children’s picture book:

The Biggest Pizza.


To cut a long story short, I wrote many more picture books, some of which were accepted by a variety of publishers, but I also tried my hand at all sorts of genres like:

My current focus is on writing Christian fiction for all ages, which is giving me so much

purpose and fulfilment, particularly when I am able to share my stories with readers in different communities and countries.

So, in conclusion, I would encourage all writers out there to try their hand at creating material in a variety of genres for:


Achieve some of the writing goals that are closest to your heart.

Happy writing.

Happy experimenting.

              AND –

Dare I say it –


The Power of Prayer

The Power of Prayer by Gillian Leggat

More than 2,000 years ago, in the religious heartland of the world, iconic events occurred which were to change the course of history. So significant are these events that they have the power to change peoples’ destinies. Yet so divisive are these same events that they separate right down the middle those who will live forever and those who will die in their sins.

I am talking, of course, about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, and Saviour of the world.

For the purposes of this blog, I am highlighting these events to make a point about prayer. Because the supernatural events surrounding the day Jesus died also changed the way men, women and children could communicate with the Father forever. If only they had realised it at the time, it was no longer necessary for the priest to sacrifice pigeons, goats and bulls as an atonement for their sins. Now, through the blood of Jesus, they had direct access to the Father through prayer. The curtain in the temple separating the Holy of Holies from the priests and the rest of the worshippers was rent in two that night. The fact that such a large, thick, heavy curtain could be torn in this miraculous way was a powerful God-sent sign indicating that followers of Jesus didn’t need an intermediary any more to communicate with the Father. Rather, they could speak to God directly in prayer.

It took a while for the small band of men and women who had followed Jesus to realise this. But after seeing the risen Lord and witnessing his final resurrection into heaven, they banded together to spread the word about Jesus. And so the Christian community was born. Because of the faithful witness of the apostles, increasing multitudes of people began to believe in the Christian faith. Despite all the persecution and hardships, the joyful testimony of men like Peter helped the word spread. And one of the key vehicles for spreading the gospel was prayer.

The Power of Prayer

The Growth of the Church

Through their persistent prayers for each other, not only did these early Christians experience personal growth, but they also prayed more and more people into this new Christian faith. Their prayers were so powerful that their tiny church grew at a phenomenal rate, spilling over into neighbouring countries. Today, the gospel is preached on all six continents, and the church is still growing, attracting people from many different cultures, lands, and nations.

The Power of Prayer for Healing

Jesus taught us that we can pray to the Father for anything and that he will always answer prayers according to his will. Over the centuries, billions of prayers have gone up to heaven about physical healing. The many examples of healings in the Bible and our own witnessing of healings in today’s world act as decisive evidence that prayer does work: that it is powerful and effective.

This is not to say that God heals every illness. He may have other plans that we know nothing about. But we do know that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8,28)

God always hears – and answers.

Even about trivial things, we can pray to God. We can also pray to him about more important matters – like protection when we are in danger, rest when we are stressed and tired, inspiration when we need it most and provision when he has financial needs or job losses. God will answer all our prayers according to his will and for his glory.

It is so rewarding to see God’s powerful and mighty hand at work as he turns the impossible into the possible: he heals a friend of a terminal illness by providing the specialists with great insight; he provides a job for an acquaintance at the eleventh hour when it seemed all hope was lost; he saves us from a serious accident by a hair's breadth.

God Uses Prayers

God is pleased when we pray to him. He has always used the prayers of his saints to perform mighty miracles in the world, miracles that we could never have dreamed were possible.

Prayer is no ‘magic trick’! It is a sincere, heartfelt, meaningful relationships with the Father. But as his very own children, he will allow us, at times, to feel the extraordinarily healing power of prayer.

God is indeed mighty and powerful, and he will hear your prayers.

So keep praying to him, your God and Father, and thank his son, Jesus, for granting us access to him.

An Author’s Guide to Coping with Rejection Emails

An Author's Guide to coping with Rejection emails blog by Gillian Leggat

‘Not another one! That’s the fifth time I’ve been rejected this month.’

‘Try 30 times. These rejection emails just keep pouring in. I’ve had enough.’

‘Giving up?’



‘I’ll never get my book published.’

‘Tried self-publishing?’

‘Too expensive.’

‘Well, just keep going. One of these days…’

              Sound familiar? Had your own manuscript rejected umpteen times? Explored self-publishing yourself, but the finances just won’t stretch that far?

              Before you get too despondent, consider that millions of writers before you have had to face rejection. And believe it or not, there are some positives that come from it.

Here are five pointers for you on coping with rejection emails:

1. Famous Authors whose manuscripts have been rejected

If you search Google, you will find a surprising list of famous authors who’ve been side-lined by multiple publishers. Names like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Agatha Christie, John Le Carre, Louisa May Alcott.

              What do these authors have in common? They’re all mega-successful millionaires who’ve sold millions of books all over the world. And yet, like we authors, their road to success had a rocky start. Consider the well-known and well-loved writer of more than sixty children’s books, Dr. Seuss. He apparently was rejected twenty-seven times and was on his way home to burn one of his manuscripts - when a chance meeting catapulted him to publication. His most successful book, Green Eggs and Ham (the very manuscript that was destined for the trash) has sold over 8 million copies worldwide.

              The lesson you can take from all this is obvious: the next time you receive a rejection email, remember that you’re in good company! You’re definitely not the only author who has experienced multiple rejections. So keep going until one day…

2. Reasons why publishers reject your manuscript

‘We regret to inform you that your manuscript does not fit our list.’

If I’ve ever even received a reply from a publisher – sometimes I’ve waited months and even years to no avail, despite my follow-up emails – that’s been one of the most common ‘rejection slips’ or, more recently, ‘rejection emails’. Busy publishers who receive mountains of manuscripts might reject your manuscript for a number of reasons: their lists are already full for that year, your manuscript is not the right genre for them – always research a publisher before you send off your manuscript – they’re a small publisher and just don’t have the capacity to publish too many books,  they have to watch their finances carefully and are very selective about the type of books they publish – they have their eyes on the market, and just don’t think your book would sell very well.

              So, if you’re feeling disappointed that another manuscript has been sent back to you, it helps to see things from the publisher’s point of view. They still have a huge slush pile to get through, and their publishing programme only allows them to publish, say, eight books in a year.

3. Character building

You may not want this fact to be shoved down your throat – I can hear you groaning already

 – but rejection has a way of strengthening your character. It produces perseverance, tenacity, and even sheer dogged-headedness. ‘I will not give up; I will not give up’ becomes your new mantra. You keep writing, you keep sending off your manuscripts, you keep believing in your work, until one day…. I began my writing career in 1985, but countless manuscripts and rejections later, it was only in 1989 that my first book, The Biggest Pizza, was published.

4. Bonds with Fellow Authors

Although writing is a solitary pursuit, rejection has a way of bonding you with other authors

 who’ve experienced those rejection emails, too. You can commiserate with an author buddy, share strategies for the next step, and get some tips on who is likely to view your manuscript favourably. It connects you with the world of writers out there and makes you feel not so alone. I’ve been chatting to a fellow author and friend (who unfortunately doesn’t live in the same city as me) for more than thirty years. What would we do without the encouragement and invaluable advice we’ve shared with each other over the years?

5. The Wonder of Success

Imagine how thrilled, excited, over-the-moon you’ll be when you’re first book finally hits the

shelves, especially as it’s been such a very long journey.  I remember my sister roaring with delight when she heard about The Biggest Pizza being accepted. She promptly invited me and my then very young kids to a celebration lunch at an Italian restaurant. No prizes for guessing what I had for lunch that day!

So keep writing. Keep going. Keep persevering. And don’t let those rejection emails get you down. If you’re as determined as I was, even if it means the self-publishing route which so many authors are taking currently, one day, you’ll hold your first book in your hand.

Good luck!

The Power of the Imagination

The Power of Imagination a blog by Gillian Leggat

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. (Albert Einstein)

Authors, particularly of fiction, are hopefully all blessed with vivid imaginations. They can be resourceful, creative and inventive. They can dream up new ideas, invent fantastical stories and visualise scenes in 3D technicolour. The imagination is certainly a powerful tool for any writer. Without it, a piece of writing would be robbed of its interest. I would go so far as to argue that without a vivid imagination, you cannot be a writer – or at least a writer of any importance.

The Initial Thrill of Imagination

I believe most authors can identify with the excitement of the original idea. It’s thrilling when the seed for a new book is planted in your brain. You can almost feel your brain expanding as a rush of ideas speeds through it. You can’t wait to get started on your new project, to use your imagination to flesh out scenes, to visualise settings, to develop characters and plot. Imagination is thrilling and inspiring. It makes you feel privileged to be an author. How happy you are to be re-inventing the world, exploring new scenarios, connecting the most unlikely people to each other. Imagination makes your brain speed up, creating new connections and exciting new pathways.

How extremely powerful is imagination.

Drawing on Dreams

As an author, you may get excited if you remember your dreams when you wake up in the middle of the night or the early morning. Those dreams of yours are a rich source for your stories. Those dreams can fire up your imagination even more. They can get you to think of new ideas – ideas you might never have thought about had it not been for your vivid dream.

Re-inventing the ‘ordinary’

Millions of authors worldwide and through the centuries could testify to the creative possibilities of the seemingly ‘ordinary’: A wardrobe – in C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; a hole in the ground where the hobbit lives – in J. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit; chocolate, in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

              With the power of the imagination at work, any object can be re-invented, resulting in some delightful entertainment.

              As an author, you may think your plot is ‘ordinary’, but you have to consider authors like Jane Austen. She weaved magic out of the ‘ordinary’, everyday families and ‘ordinary’, everyday events. How well her imagination was at work when she created dialogue between, for example, Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. How she created dramatic tension in their exchanges! So, never underestimate the power of the ‘ordinary’ in firing up the imagination.

              Enjoy your imaginative trip as an author. It is so worth it when you get to the end of your journey and have a completed manuscript in your hand.

Four Ways to Approach Non-Fiction Writing

Four ways to approach Non-fiction writing. A blog by Gillian Leggat

Non-fiction writing, of course, covers a range of sub-genres…blogs, web articles, journals, amongst others, but for the purposes of this blog, I will be focusing on just three: memoirs, biographies and autobiographies. I have selected just four tips for writing these three genres. Here they are:

1. Draw on your memories

Your memories are a rich storehouse of treasure when you plan to write non-fiction. As you start to consider what you want to write about, memories come flooding into your brain, sometimes and surprisingly from long, long ago. To make sure you get the best out of this treasure trove, it’s a good idea to start jotting them down or recording them in a notebook or a computer file. Even if the memory seems insignificant at the time, write it down anyway. You can start making sense of your notes later. The mere act of committing your memories to paper can be very therapeutic. The power of the pen is healing.

2. Keep a diary/journal

Before you begin on the sometimes daunting task of actually writing your memoir, autobiography or biography, you might consider keeping a journal. A journal can help you to store your memories and even to make sense of them. More comprehensive than a diary – in your journal, you are likely to reflect on some of the events in your life; you may be more selective about the things you are describing there. In your journal, you might write about the significance of certain events in your life; perhaps a watershed moment gave you a new direction in your life. As a bonus, and without even realising it, you are practising the appropriate style for non-fiction writing, and so you’ll be more prepared when you do actually start to write your book.

3. Organise your facts/memories

If you’re writing a biography or autobiography, preparing a timeline of events is useful. A diagrammatic representation of significant events in your, or in someone else’s life can be a very useful tool for organising your thoughts. Once this is done, you can organise your facts into chapters – the usual way is in life stages, e.g. Childhood, Teenage years, The Challenges of University life, and so on. You could spend more time in one particular segment of your life which you found more meaningful than the others. Here, you could flesh out some of those anecdotes, make more detailed notes about a character who greatly impacted your life, and so on.

If you’re writing a memoir, which is likely to focus more on a particular segment of your life or to highlight a significant theme, you might consider:

The emotional arc of your work. Memoirs are very often more about feelings and how events have affected you.

4. Consider the purpose of your narrative

Before you really get stuck into writing your narrative, think of the meaning of your story, weave your themes together to make a coherent whole, and think about the message/s you want to convey to potential readers.

Once you have carefully done all this preparation, you’re equipped with the main tools you need to start writing in earnest.

Enjoy exploring your memories!

For more insight on how to begin your writing journey, you can find more helpful insights in my blog: Some tips for writers beginning their careers.