What Does it Mean to Write for Christ?

Write For Christ PostWe talk about this idea a lot around here at Kingdom Pen, but what does it really mean to write for Christ? How exactly do you write for Christ? Does your story have to be out-right religious or blatantly about God in order to write for Christ?

I think the mistake we as Christians so often make when creating “Christian” stories or art in general, is we feel the need to proclaim that our work is Christian. We put God in a nice churchy box called “Christian” and make sure to parade this box around throughout our stories. As a result, quality is usually sacrificed on the altar of “a good Christian message.”

The reality is that God is so much bigger than we often make Him out to be in Christian fiction. Your story doesn’t need to be openly “religious” or even mention the name of God in order to write for Christ, and bring Him glory. Additionally, if you are writing for a non-Christian audience, sometimes it might be best to leave the name of God out of your story, as it could potentially alienate the ones you are writing for.

What? I’m confused. How can you write for Christ without talking about God? 

I am definitely not saying you should leave God out of your story. In fact, doing so would make your story unrealistic. However, God is so big, He’s everywhere and anywhere at any given time. We can write for Christ without blatantly coming out and talking about God or using His name in our writing. To write for God, we merely need to do one thing: Glorify Him. To glorify God, we need to reflect His character.

We reflect God’s character in two ways: quality and truth.

Quality

Our writing needs to be of the best possible quality. We need to write well, and do our best. God is perfect, so to reflect God, we need to get our writing as close to perfect as we can. A great message does not trump story, nor does a great story redeem a horrible message. Both are vital.

As a quote attributed to Martin Luther goes,

“The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”

Of course, we will never be able to attain perfection, and getting frustrated with our work will not help things. Sometimes, the only way we can get better, is to let ourselves write poorly. Practice is the only way we can get better. So we don’t have to be perfect to reflect God. We just have to do our best, and always strive to get better, never resting on our laurels. That honors God.

Truth

We also reflect God in our writing by demonstrating His truth.

What is God’s truth, and how do we demonstrate it?

God’s truth is truth. Anything that is true is of God. Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). God is described as “the Spirit of Truth,” (John 16:3). God is truth; therefore, by writing about and displaying truth, we are writing for Christ. So many dark and disturbing stories today claim to be about truth, even ones written by Christians, but they are not displaying the real and ultimate truth, but a temporary distortion of the truth which Satan has wrought on the world through our sin. These dark stories which claim to be about “real life” are really just depicting a temporal illusion.

As C.S. Lewis’ Aslan points out in “The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe”, yes, there is a deep “magic” which decrees that the White Witch has ownership over Edmond for his treachery, but what the witch did not know was the deeper “magic” which proclaimed that if someone willing and blameless took his place, the death would be reversed. In other words, God’s truth is the “deeper magic” which cancels out and surpasses the false reality sin has created in our world.  

Displaying truth can take many forms, but ultimately, our stories should advance a theme which corresponds with God’s truth. In other words, yes, our stories should have a positive and moral message, but this should arise from the plot and characters, and not sacrifice quality by being tacked on unrealistically.

One example of displaying God’s truth is how we portray love. Love is often displayed in novels, and in our culture, as a feeling. I feel this, and I feel that. And the other person feels this about me. Love has come to reflect a very selfish idea, and it is true that there are different forms of love. However, the idea that true Love is about, “how much pleasure can I get out of this relationship or the other person?” is completely false. The world says love is about consuming. Writing for Christ could mean showing that true love is about sacrificing, which is what God proved love to be on the cross. John 3:16 describes it very well. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Another example of displaying the truth of Christ is advocating truth itself. In our Postmodern world, many people are denying that objective truth even exists. People like to say, “well that’s true for you, but that’s not true for me.” Objective truth exists, it’s God’s truth. So by writing a story with a moral showing that truth is truth, regardless of what people believe, you are writing for Christ.

By writing stories displaying and promoting Hope, Joy, Courage, Perseverance, Humility, Faith, Altruism, Peace, Mercy, Grace, etc. we are writing for Christ because we are reflecting the character of God. We may or may not include God in our writing, by name, but by displaying His truths and saying, “this is true,” we are putting God in our writing, and we are writing for Christ.

Also, if we strive to write for Christ, we will not be writing alone. If we abandon ourselves to God, then He can use us for His glory. He will guide us as we craft and develop our stories.

If you think about it, there are infinite ways to write for Christ and to glorify God. By writing for God, glory will not only be brought to Him, but we will be taking part in the spreading of God’s kingdom on earth. We can spread truth, and free the culture from its pervasive lies.

The beautiful reality is people are starving for these kinds of stories, and not just Christians. Truth and reality are far more wonderful than the fake. By combining God’s truth with a high quality story, we can write novels which deeply impact Christians and non-Christians alike. The Lord of the Rings, and the Chronicles of Narnia are two great examples of this playing out. Writing for Christ is truly a noble pursuit.

Writing for Christ = Glorifying Him = Reflecting His character = Doing our best to demonstrate His truth and wonderful mastery.

KP Spotlight! Dani M.

Kingdom Pen is so excited to release our very first KP Spotlight! It is so neat getting to know you better! We hope you enjoy this feature as much as we are! Thank you Dani M for agreeing to share a little bit about yourself with us.

Kingdom Pen: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What are three interesting facts?KP Spotlight

Dani M: Well, my siblings tell me that I stick my tongue out when I’m concentrating. Especially on piano or violin. Flute would be a little hard to do that on, though.

I think in a British accent. I talk in a Northern accent, but my Southern accent comes out a lot. And occasionally, a word or two slip out in English pronunciation. Especially ‘process’. I can also talk in Scottish, Irish, and Hindi accents.

I seem to not be able to construct a sentence without mentioning the Bible Bee at least once. My mom hosts our locals, and I’ve participated in it since the beginning, so that’s probably why.

Bonus: I lived in eleven houses before I was five. And three of my siblings and I have been born in different time zones.

KP: If you could have any vocation, and money was no object, what would it be?

DM: Singing across Europe. Or running a tea shop/craft shop/animal rescue. Something crazy like that, to be certain. Most people think I’m crazy.

KP: Homeschooled? Public-schooled? Tell us the tale.

DM: I’ve been homeschooled all my life. Nothing extra exciting, except maybe that I was in Algebra one for five years- from ten to fifteen. I finally finished, though, and I’m looking forward to geometry! Science and algebra tie as my most difficult subjects, and music is my favorite.

KP: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment? (It’s okay to brag a little on this one!)

DM: Honestly, probably making it through nineteen months of traveling across the Lower 48. Nevermind, it was making it to the National Bible Bee semi-finals with one of my best friends!

KP: What is the best part about writing for you?

DM: Being able to be creative, probably. Getting to invent worlds and people.

KP: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

DM: Well, I have been told over and over not to edit- get it written down and then edit, but, unfortunately, I have never followed it.

KP: What is your favorite thing to write—poetry, fiction, nonfiction, blog posts, etc.?

DM: I like to write fiction. I’m sort a fantastical person who walks around with my head in the clouds, so I invent a lot of things. Some of them have been written down, and some not.

KP: What is your biggest struggle as a writer? Biggest fear?

DM: My biggest struggle is portraying feelings without actually stating them. That’s kind of weird, because I’m very expressive, and you’d think I’d be able to. As for fear, I really don’t have any so far.

KP: What are your goals as a writer?

DM: I don’t really know. I just started writing because I have too many ideas. I never had goals. And that’s kind of how it is still. Hopefully, I can get one or two books published. But if not, I’m fine with that as well.

KP: If you could give one piece of encouragement to other writers your age, what would it be?

DM: If your writing isn’t what you want it to be, and you can’t get it right, set it aside for a bit. I’ve set things aside for up to a year, and when I come back, I see what was wrong and am able to fix it. It also helps if you have great friends who are so much better at writing than you are and can just tell you what’s wrong.

KP: What do you like the most about Kingdom Pen?

DM: The articles are great! They’ve been very helpful.

KP: If there was one thing you’d like to see added, expanded, or changed at Kingdom Pen, what would it be?

DM: I think I’d like to see more music, from other Christian writers. After all, we musicians write too. We write music!

KP: How did you find out about Kingdom Pen?

DM: I read on the Boyer Family Singers blog about this Christian website that was hosting a Begin Your Novel contest, and the prize was a hundred dollars. I thought, “Christian? Begin Your Novel contest? A hundred bucks! Sounds good!” Ironically, I had just begun another novel. And the beginning has changed drastically since.

KP: How long have you been a subscriber?

DM: Since then.

KP: What was your favorite Kingdom Pen article, short story, or poem?

DM: I really liked ‘Of Parallels and Perpendiculars’. It seems like my life is like that a lot.

KP: If you could say one thing to the Kingdom Pen community, what would it be?

DM: Thanks for making Kingdom Pen happen!

KP: A movie is being made about your life. What are three songs that would definitely make the soundtrack cut and why?

DM: Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’, because that’s what made me want to play violin. Probably also ‘In Dreams’ from the Fellowship of the Ring. I daydream a lot. And… Um… ‘In Every Trying Hour’, which is an original song that we sang at the National Bible Bee. I’ve participated in it every year, so it’s a big part of my life.

 

Dani, MDani M is a crazy sixteen-year-old in the heart of the 49th state in the Union. She enjoys knitting, crocheting, spinning, and any number of crafts! And singing and playing one of her many instruments. She is an older sister to two brothers and two sisters. Her two goats, unfortunately, are not at her property, and she wishes to add rabbits and various poultry to her farm. She and her sister have run a magazine for girls for four years, which you can sign up for at: MillersInAlaska.org

Her favorite authors and stories include J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, and fairy tales that merge Alaska with British literature and Scandinavian themes.

 

Writing Realistic Conversions In Your Stories

Perhaps one of the most difficult things to depict in Christian fiction is a realistic conversion.

 

Realistic Conversions

You wouldn’t necessarily know that from the number of times they happen in Christian fiction.  But a lot of the time, when a conversion is attempted, I can’t help but be disappointed by the event.  Not because I don’t like to see conversions.  But because I want to see them done well.  And, a lot of the time, it seems like something ends up missing from the picture when they are attempted.  The decision seems to be made too quickly by the character in a way that seems hasty and out-of-character.  The decision is based on a reason too simple—like one bad thing going wrong, or one mini-sermon from a Christian character suddenly completely changing an atheist who has been strongly believing one thing his whole life.  There’s a tendency to know ahead of time what’s going to be coming when an atheist walks onto the stage of a Christian novel.  And so it becomes kind of bland and uneventful when he actually does convert.

There is, perhaps, a strange sense of irony that one of the best conversions I’ve seen exhibited in fiction was in a work written by a deist.  But Jean Valjean’s conversion at the beginning of Les Miserables wins high marks for me for its ability to show a conversion that is incredibly convincing and incredibly passionate.  And this got me to thinking: what is it about many conversions in Christian fiction that causes them not to work well?  And what can we do as writers to avoid those problems when writing conversion scenes?

Before we answer this question, however, we’re going to have to take a step back to consider what a novel itself is and how it’s supposed to have a strong theme and message.  Frank Capra once famously said concerning storytelling, that “if you want to send a message, try Western Union.”  But if a story has nothing of actual value to impart—if it embodies no eternal truths in it—what’s the point of the story?

 

Aesthetics are valuable—but literature needs to teach as well as delight.

 

That being said, literature is going to give a message in a different way than a sermon or a speech.  Sermons and speeches rely on the power of carefully-constructed reasons and intellectual arguments to convince someone of a certain point.  But I think we all probably innately recognize the difference between a sermon and a story.  Where a sermon relies on intellectual arguments, stories—and particularly novels—rely on powerful mental images and the inner lives of characters to showcase a point.  The classic writing adage of “show, don’t tell,” should come to mind here.  In a fascinating article entitled The Novel as Protestant Art, Joseph Bottum writes that, “Feelings and internal consciousness become more than important—they become vital—in the modern turn to the self.  This is what the novel as an art form emerged to address, and what the novel as an art form encouraged into ever-greater growth. The inner life, self-consciousness as self-understanding, becomes the manifestation of virtue and the path for grasping salvation.”[1]

The novel as a literary form is built on the ability to get inside a person’s mind and see his emotions and inner struggles as he goes through life, which is why some of the greatest novels—Count of Monte Cristo, Tale of Two Cities, Brothers Karamazov, etc.—are those that heavily emphasize these factors.  Often, these internal changes within a character over the course of a novel are called character arcs—and these character arcs are primarily not intellectual ones.  Rather, they emphasize the emotions and feelings of a character in their internal structures, although intellectual struggles are not abandoned.

Given this, when writing a conversion, it is important to keep in mind that the novel as an art form does not readily lend itself to great intellectual arguments and speeches.  It’s more focused on emotions and the inner life, and a realistic conversion must therefore look at these elements if we are to portray it in a way that befits the genre.  Having a character convert just because he heard a really good speech for why God has to exist probably isn’t going to be convincing because of that.

 

In order to portray a conversion in a way which befits the genre, we must look at the character arc as a guide for how to write a realistic conversion.

 

For those who may be less familiar with character arcs, a character arc is basically the process by which a character changes his values and behavior to reflect greater conformity to an all-important truth.  This could be a move from despair to hope, from anger to peace, from fear to courage, from voluptuousness to self-control.  Well-done character arcs are often those that explore these themes to the greatest amounts by pushing the character right up to the brink.  If a character is to learn how to hope, if we want to tell a good story, we can’t just give him an easy ride by giving him little things to despair about.  Rather, if we are to fully explore the importance of hope, we’re going to have to show the character the worst of despair—to bring him to the place where hope couldn’t be any further away—before finally bringing him back to once again see that hope can still exist even in a darkened world.

This then lends us valuable aid in how to craft a realistic conversion.  If we want to show our readers how valuable Christ is, we can’t get away with just having a character believe because God was simply the more rational option, or because it was merely a slightly better option than being an atheist.  No—if we want to truly show it in an impactful way we’re going to have to show the depths of despair that will occur without Christ.  In the case of Les Miserables, this is done by showing the audience Valjean’s absolute confusion about the grace given him by a bishop, a grace that does not—cannot—fit into his own worldview, a grace that blows his previous worldview to smithereens and leads him to fully accept the Gospel.

Of course, this should come as little surprise to us, that such is the way to realistically portray a conversion in fiction.  And why is that?  It is because the Bible already points to this truth.  Look at Ephesians 2 and how Paul describes our conversion process.  He describes us as being dead in our sins, ruled by the prince of darkness, without hope and without God in the world.  To come to Christ, we must acknowledge our need of a Savior.  And we cannot acknowledge our need of a Savior without realizing the depths of our own sinfulness.  Our sin drives us to Christ as the only possible way to relieve us from our sin.

How then do we craft a convincing conversion?  We do it by faithfully portraying reality in a way that is consistent with the genre of fiction.  We guide a character’s internal struggles to a point where he can’t solve his own struggles any other way, where he sees the inadequacies of any other route, and where the only viable solution to his struggles is to turn to Christ for an answer.  When done well it works beautifully in fiction.  And it works beautifully because it conforms to reality.

Writing realistic conversions is a difficult process.  Real-life conversions are complex, tend to defy categorization, and are only accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit.  And so, to the extent that fiction in some way mirrors reality, fictional conversions will therefore have to be carefully crafted, carefully tuned, and carefully developed.  But by following standard writing techniques and using biblical principles, it is possible to write a realistic conversion.  As Christian fiction writers, we have the opportunity to depict an amazing supernatural event in our novels.

Let’s make sure that we take advantage of, rather than squander, this opportunity.

 

[1] http://www.booksandculture.com/articles/2015/marapr/novel-as-protestant-art.html?paging=off

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Interviews BYN Contest Winner: Brenna Stross

Back in March we announced the winner of our Begin Your Novel Contest, Brenna Stross. She agreed to allow us an interview, and here is what she has to say on her entry and being a writer!

BYN Winner Interview PostKingdom Pen: So, just who is Brenna Stross? Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you discover Kingdom Pen and the Begin Your Novel contest?

Brenna Stross: I’m a thirteen year old girl just doing life in good ole’ Lakeland! I love reading, writing, singing and playing the guitar. I discovered Kingdom Pen through the Begin Your Novel contest, and I discovered BYN through this blog: Our Crazy Adventures In Autism Land 

KP: You’ve shown us that you have a great opening paragraph; is there a great novel to go along with it? If not, are you in the process of writing it?

Stross: This contest sparked the interest to begin this novel, and I am currently in the process of writing it.

KP: How long did you spend writing your opening paragraph? What was the most difficult part?

Stross: After researching ideas, contemplating, and praying, it was clear what I was to write, and it took me ten minutes to write my opening paragraph.

KP: Have you won any writing awards or contests before, or is Kingdom Pen your first?

Stross: Kingdom Pen is the first writing contest I’ve ever entered, so I was beyond excited and surprised to have actually won. My goal was to get feedback on how to improve my writing.

KP: Are you home schooled, public schooled, private schooled, or a mix? Has writing been a big part of your education?

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When Is It Okay To Kill?

If you’re writing an adventure novel, the odds are high that someone is going to die. Not only that, but your protagonist may have to be the killer. This raises the question, when is it okay for your protagonist—the good guy (or gal)—to kill? Is it ever right?

When(1)

Is killing always wrong?

 

The difficult thing about killing in fiction is that wartime ethics have a lot of grey areas.  Biblical principles arguably go against the extremes of a pacifistic attitude where all killing is wrong and of a more utilitarian approach that treats all killing as fine.  That being said, settling on a middle course that properly avoids either extreme can be much more difficult to determine.  Given that many philosophers and theologians have had difficulties coming up with a single answer to this question, it is likely that, to some extent, it’s likely that we won’t be able to get rid of all the grey areas that can be present in this difficult issue.

That being said, there is a biblical basis for taking a life.  In Romans 13, God declares that he’s given the government the power of the sword.  So in cases of just war (although what exactly qualifies a just war is another discussion entirely), the taking of life is justified.

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KP Critiques: Launched!

If you have checked out our Roadmap recently, you will see we had the goal of launching “KP Critiques” in May, a feature where we would critique novel excepts you send us and post them on the website. However, we are ahead of schedule, and are launching it today!

KP Critiques Post 1

Get your novel excerpt critiqued!

If you have a novel excerpt 800–3,000 words in length that you would like us to critique, email it to us at Kingdompenmag@gmail.com with the subject line, “KP Critiques,” and we’ll get to work on giving you feedback. We’ll then post the critique on our website for the benefit of others who may be struggling with the same mistakes in their writing.

We received this idea from Alyssa, who asked for feedback on the opening paragraph she had submitted to the BYN contest. Therefore, our first critique will be a little shorter than what they will be in the future.

Thank you, Alyssa, for inspiring KP Critiques!

Here is her submission:
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Kingdom Pen Interviews: Israel Wayne

Kingdom Pen thanks Israel Wayne for this exclusive interview! Israel Wayne is a homeschool graduate, writer, and speaker. 

Kingdom Pen: When did you start writing? What motivated you?

Israel Wayne: I began writing a column in the Home School Digest magazine in the Fall of 1994. I have always been a communicator at heart. I don’t write because I enjoy the process of writing, per se, but rather because I feel that I have something to say. The first two essays I wrote for the publication were (in my late teens): “Establishing Right Relationships,” and “Making Moral Choices.”
Israel Wayne Interview Post Graphic
I have always felt that if you could get those two issues correct (Ethics and Relationships), rest of life will run much smoother for you. Ironically, those two themes have been a constant thread throughout the body of my work. I tend to write a lot about family and worldviews. I always cycle back around to that.

KP: How did you become a writer? Did you have to go to college?

IW: It may provide some readers a sadistic comfort to know that I flunked every writing course I ever took. I purposefully avoided college, which I felt that I did not need, and so far have not. I am not the best writer. I think the British have a notable advantage over us Americans when it comes to writing (consider G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, T.S. Elliot, etc., not to mention Shakespeare and Chaucer!). They invented the language after all. That hasn’t caused much of a problem for me though because most Americans are pathetic writers, even the published ones. So, by comparison, I appear to be a decent writer, even though I am not.

KP: How old do you have to be to write non-fiction books? Is non-fiction writing something you can only attempt when you’re an adult and more experienced?

IW: I have always written non-fiction. I write non-fiction mainly because I rarely ever read fiction, and you must read a good deal of good fiction if you are going to be able to write good fiction. The struggle I have is in finding good fiction. Apart from the Classics, which are so for obvious reasons, I find most modern fiction to be the domain of the banal and obtuse. I have no use for most of it. So I read a good deal of non-fiction, across a variety of genres.

I think more than age, it is important to know how to create good outlines. I think in outline form. For both fiction and non-fiction, it is essential to make an outline on which to hang your narrative or prose. You need to be able to tell people your idea in a logical sequence and not get sidetracked with rabbit trails. You also need to learn economy of words. Being concise is a lost art. This world needs far more pith, and far less droning.

KP: How do you deal with criticism?

IW: Criticism, if it comes from someone who knows something, is invaluable. I always invite it with all of my books. I send the manuscript to various experts in the field on which I am writing, as well as to professional editors, and welcome them to tear it to pieces. I want them to find every flaw because if they don’t a reader who paid money to buy the book will (and it’s too late to correct it then!). If you can’t handle criticism, don’t become a writer. A major goal in writing (in my mind) is to challenge the conventional thinking of your reader. If you are doing that, you are also very likely offending them as well. People don’t like to think that their preconceived notions may be false. So if you are getting no criticism, you are a dull thinker and are probably not saying anything worthwhile.

KP: If you could only give one piece of advice on how to go about writing a non-fiction book, what would it be?

IW: Know your topic. I try to avoid writing on anything that I don’t know intimately. If I write it, it is usually because I own that concept in my own life and experience. If you write about what you know deeply and personally, you can’t go wrong.

KP: How do you get other people to read your books? What is the best way you’ve found to market your work?

IW: I used to give a lot of advice about how to get published and how to market your book. Now I just tell people to read a book by Michael Hyatt (an executive at Thomas Nelson Publishers) entitled, Platform. He says all the things that I have told people for years in a clear and concise manner.

KP: Is writing a best-selling book the only way to make a living as a writer?

IW: Very few authors write best-selling books. I saw a statistic recently that said that the average sales of a non-fiction Christian print book is only 250 copies per year, and 3,000 over the course of its life. So, if you are with a traditional book publisher and you are only getting paid $1.00-$1.50 per book, you’d better have a back-up plan.

For most authors, you write because you have a story or idea in you that needs to get out. You obviously write for the benefit of others, but if you don’t sell a lot of copies, writing is still good personal therapy. If you are going to write professionally, you either need to be the best in your craft, or you need to combine writing with a brand package that includes public speaking, events, product packages, consulting, teaching and a host of other endeavors that all work together to provide adequate income and support. You can also write for various periodicals that pay their writers, but again, you are probably looking at a couple hundred dollars a month, at best, through those channels, so you really need to diversify and take whatever work you can to make a living until your craft finally takes off.

My view is that we need to be faithful to say what God has given us to say. We should present it to the best of our abilities. In the end, however, it is God who gives the increase. If it is His will for us to write on a full-time basis, then He will provide the means. If not, we can enjoy writing as a very fulfilling hobby or part-time endeavor.

Israel Wayne is an author and conference speaker who has a passion for defending the Christian faith and promoting a Biblical worldview.2015-Israel-new-pic-for-web-240x300 He is the author of the books Homeschooling from a Biblical WorldviewFull-Time Parenting: A Guide to Family-Based DiscipleshipQuestions God Asks and Questions Jesus Asks. He is a former regular columnist for Home School Digest and the Old Schoolhouse magazines. He is also the Director of Family Renewal, LLC. and site editor for ChristianWorldview.net.

Should You Include Cussing in Your Story?

“What the BLEEP!”

 

SONY DSCI’ve wanted to write a post for Kingdom Pen on this topic for about three years now, ever since a debate I got into on the One Year Adventure Novel writing forum. Is it okay to include cussing in your story? Or is it always wrong?

Is profanity a sin?

Of course, to determine if it is wrong to include profanity in your novel, you first have to believe that it is wrong to use profanity yourself. The Bible makes it clear that profanity is a sin (Ephesians 4:29, Ephesians 5:4, Colossians 3:8, James 3:9-12, 1st Peter 3:10, etc.)

While there are those Christians who would dispute that cussing is a sin, it is not the purpose of this article to make the case profane speech is sin. For the sake of this article, I’m going to assume we all agree that cussing is a sin.

But is it wrong for your characters to cuss?

So, swearing is wrong, but does that mean we can’t use it in our stories? After all, we display other forms of sin in our stories. Theft, murder, abusive anger, lying, jealousy, the list goes on. As we spoke about regarding the need for more strong female characters in modern literature, there is a difference between depicting something, and glorifying it. What is so different about profanity? Can we not include profanity in our stories, but simply not glorify it?

I came very close to including a cuss word in one of my novels once. I wasn’t planning on having this particular villainous character swear. I didn’t write in my outline that they would use this particular word, but as I wrote this rather intense scene between my protagonist and this villain, and as the conflict heated up, and the accusations flew, it just came to me that the villain should swear. It fit. She was the kind of character who would use a cuss word, and since I had included no profanity anywhere else in the story, the word would gain shock value.

My scene froze as I debated with myself over whether or not I should include this particular swear word, and the old discussion that I was involved in on the OYAN forum came back to me. There is a time and a place for everything, right?

Though this seemed like the time and the place to include a curse word, I eventually decided against its usage for a number of reasons, five to be exact, and I figured I should share them to help any of you who may be struggling with this dilemma in your writing.

 

5 Reasons not to include profanity in your story

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Already Loved

A Poem by Hannah Cochran


Already Loved Post Graphic

Why am I the only one without someone to call my own

Always sitting by myself, oh, how I feel alone

No one to whisper their love, no one to hold my hand

No one to walk beside or give me a wedding band

No one to see me, I am just paper thin

No one to wonder how I am and ask me how I’ve been

No one to share my secrets, no one to share my pain

No one to say I’m beautiful and give me a brand new name [Read more…]

KP Radio – A Survey!

Hello Kingdom Pen! We are broadcasting another idea with you today, this one, about broadcasts!

KP Broadcast Post Graphic

Ever since I attended a blog radio program and was able to ask N.D. Wilson a question about what advice he would give young authors trying to get published, I thought it would be so cool if Kingdom Pen could also have an internet radio program. If you look at our Roadmap, you will see we have KP Radio listed as an unscheduled goal. However, we would like to make this a scheduled goal.

But before we do, we want to know if this is something you would want. Would you be interested in tuning in for a live internet radio program, or listening to the recordings later as a podcast?

What would you like to see us talk about on a radio program, or in podcasts?

Here are some of our ideas, but I’m sure many of you could come up with some great ones!

  • Interviewing authors

We would love to invite other authors, both established writers and young authors who are just getting started, onto the show and ask them questions about writing and the writer’s life. We also think it would be great if those listening could ask questions of the authors, like I was able to of N.D. Wilson.

  • Quick Tips

Probably best done as a podcast series, we could record shows giving some quick and practical tips on writing, or talk about some of the common struggles young writers experience.

  • Famous People Read Your Poem

An idea hatched in the mind of Daniel Thompson, have you ever wondered what your poem would sound like read aloud by a celebrity? No? Well I bet now you do now; I know I do! What if we had a segment where submitted poetry was read in a celebrity impression?

  • Q/A

Ask us questions on writing and/or writing for Christ, and we try to answer. Like Your Questions: Answered, but via live internet radio.

  • Pitch us your Novel

Have an idea for a novel you would like to get feedback on? Send us a synopsis and we’ll discuss it on the show.

 

These are just a few concepts we have come up with, but we want to create shows that YOU would enjoy listening to and participating in. What ideas do you have? We really want your feedback, so if you could, please answer this short 3-question survey to help us gauge if KP Radio/podcasts is something you would want, and if so, what it should look like. Thank you all so much!

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