Guest Post by Jan Verhoeff
Do words impact your reader with Christian Values? The most important aspect of writing is moving your audience with words to make a difference. Christian values seep out of literature only when they’re included in the fabric and content of the story, the characters, and the settings that make up the material.
As a writer, I get excited when I read a piece of value driven literature with moral values and a message that can drive my reader to better life choices. In fact, I’ve found even in the least likely genre. With a Christian message, any story makes a big impact on the reader.
1 – Character Development
Every character has both good and bad character traits and how your characters develop in the story impact the overall outcome of the book. Is your book successful? Is your character developed throughout the book? Or do your characters feel flat and bland?
In a recent project a specific character lacked depth and purpose throughout the book, because his motives were unfocused. When a character is focused, he becomes real. Have you ever noticed, even in real life, people who lack focus are boring? Maladjusted individuals can’t quite meet the real world social requirements because they lack substance. On the other hand, people who are focused, purposeful, and have moral fabric woven through their being, provide plenty of social interest. Subsequently, as an author, you’ll want to find the direct focus for each character that you want your reader to remember.
Yes, of course, there will be some casually mentioned characters who have no real personal value in the book. Because your book will include a variety of well rounded characters, the overall moral structure will impact your reader.
2 – Scene Setting Descriptions
Were you aware that color has moral value? God appears vividly apparent in the brilliance of His blessed creation when Christians describe daybreak, or sunset. Have you ever heard a Christian lament the power sunrise has over their emotional well being? Christian values are found in all of God’s creation. Nature sings His praise and victory.
Color defines moral values. A dark night implies evil, restless, sin. A bright morning imparts God’s blessing, love, and abundance on His children. The incredible power of God’s love exists in the very breath of life, because all life is likened unto God.
The dirty little secret of Christian Values? Even NON-Christian writers can’t avoid impact of creation on their world view, because the descriptions of almost every setting reveals the God-like characteristics of nature. That’s impact.
3 – Story Line Flow
The ebb and flow of your story, largely reactive to the character development and action in your story becomes either classic, or reactive, because of the direction of your characters focus. When the character has a specific goal in mind, and applies his attention and determination to achieving that goal, chaos reigns, because anytime you’re right with the Lord, the devil gets active. The challenges, chaos, and strife faced by your character can generally be directly attributed to sin in their past, sin in their present, or sin they’ll commit in their future. Those moral actions make a huge impact on the ultimate goals and success of your character.
In almost no situation will your main character ever overcome the destruction of challenges in their life without proving themselves worthy with moral values. The story of Christianity may not be a part of your story line, but I’ll lay down cash that your characters ultimate good is a direct result of God, or a God-like influence on his or her life. Why? Because that’s how life happens.
Mark my words, it’s all true.
4 – Purpose, Meaning, and Focus
In a romance, the guy wants his girl. The girl definitely gets her man. The end result is love, sweet love. That’s just how a romance rocks. The purpose of your book will have a definite meaning based on the genre of your book. But the overall outcome of your book is determined by the challenges, chaos, and undoing of the overwhelming despair of your main character. If he can’t get it together in your book, your book won’t sell, it won’t market, and nothing you can do will put that book in front of the right people, if you can’t achieve the ultimate purpose of your efforts.
The meaning, spelled out pretty easily in a few paragraphs of your book, introduces the next characters. In most instances, the meaning of your book will be apparent to the reader soon after they start reading.
Pure Entertainment – the book will be chock-full of laughter, humor, and other fun events, but may have little in the way of an actual ”reader lesson” because this book is meant to entertain. While you may teach your readers something of value, they won’t know they learned a valuable lesson right away.
Good and Evil – everyone recognizes the clear values and attributes of good and evil. No lesson could be as clear as the lesson that says Plan A is RIGHT, and you should go there, your decisions should result in Plan A, or Plan B is bad and you should NEVER do it. No matter what.
Conceptual Lesson – some books are intended to teach you one lesson, such as wear your seat belt. The author will nix the entire book at the end to share with you that one measly action that will make no difference to anyone other than YOU. Or him. The idea is that each lesson learned takes a story line, therefore your book may teach several lessons using more than one story line.
5 – Christian Values
Honing your Christian values as you write is always a good way to bring them out in the open, add discussion, and invite people to ask or share their testimony in your blog posts or on their reviews. What better way to focus on Christian, moral thinking? Increase your conceptual discussion, by having a talk about sinful behavior, or why one should have integrity in a business transaction. However you choose to introduce Christian values into your book, the story should be told including those items, rather than the items be shared to tell the story.
Adding any extra precepts to your story should be an afterthought rather than the prime purpose of the story.
For instance, many years back a writer shared her story – but nobody realized until toward the end of her story that she had lost an arm just below her elbow to a childhood accident. She hadn’t made her inadequacy the main pillar of the story but rather included it as a part of the story somewhere near the end of the book. That’s what your purpose, or values, or concept should be – a part of the whole story, but revealed as an afterthought.
Jan Verhoeff is a writer. She occasionally shares concepts and ideas about writing as a guest blogger on a wide variety of blogs, writer websites, and networks online. If you’d like to discuss something about your book with her – you may contact her for a “coffee chat” by clicking on the link below.