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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Meltdown Miracles (Smashwords) which is a fantasy novel based on the initial spread of COVID-19 throughout the world.
- 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.