What the Bible Teaches Me about Fiction: II

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If you want to your characters to be compelling, give the “good guys” some weaknesses. Nobody’s perfect, so use “imperfection” to make characters believable and endearing. Consider Hebrews 11, often called “The Faith Chapter.” It lists the heroes of the faith. Yet with the exception of a few, we could just as easily title it “The Foul-Up Chapter.” We find murderers, adulterers, hookers. Despite their flaws, however, they have one thing in common: faith. Moses is humble, but he has an anger management problem. Peter is spirited but impulsive—just ask Malchus.

Even Jesus, though he has no flaws, is still different from what many of us expect of a perfect person. He’s unpredictable, saying stuff like, “On the outside you look good, but inside you stink like a coffin” or “You bunch of snakes.” Not exactly “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

Hesitate to name minor characters.
The reader …

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What the Bible Teaches Me about Fiction: I

By Writing 2 Comments

Most of what I’ve learned about fiction I’ve learned from the Bible.

That’s not to say I think the story about a big fish swallowing Jonah is a myth. If a resurrection is possible, what’s so tough about sustaining a guy in a fish’s belly for a couple of days?

What I’m saying is this: Moses, Luke, whoever wrote Ruth—these are the best storytellers in the world. The way they craft their narratives has taught me most of what I know about fiction. Consider some examples.

Use point-of-view to heighten tension. The Book of Ruth demonstrates what happens when a writer uses point-of-view to heighten tension. Remember the part in Ruth’s story when she goes down to the threshing floor to propose to Boaz? The author, under inspiration of the Spirit, writes, “[Boaz] awoke and behold! A woman was lying at his feet!” The reader already knows the woman is …

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Mary DeMuth II: On Writing

By Blog Interviews With Writers, Writing No Comments

This is the second installment in a two-part interview with Mary DeMuth, author of Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God.

Name some writers who have influenced you and how.
C. S. Lewis—I love that he wrote both nonfiction and fiction and did it well. I’m writing both, so he inspires me.

Randy Alcorn—he does the same thing! And his words about having an eternal perspective have changed my life.

Leif Enger—he wrote Peace Like a River, my new favorite novel. I want to write fiction like that: innovative use of language, strong story, suspense, with a literary element.

What are you reading at the moment?
Loving Søren by Caroline O’Neill. She’s a friend who lives in New York. She fictionalized Søren Kirkegaard’s relationship with Regine.

Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller. What a terrific voice Donald Miller has. The only other time I have laughed out loud like this …

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