Author: Josiah DeGraaf

Three Common Mistakes When Writing the First Page of Your Novel

This past month, we announced the winners of the “Begin Your Novel” contest. I was impressed by many of the entries and thoroughly enjoyed reading through all the submissions. However, I did want to give some pointers on some common problems that I noticed among submissions. Not all of the entries that didn’t win had these problems, but here are some common things that I noticed that you’ll want to watch out for: 1. Bland First Lines A fair number of the entries didn’t fully utilize the first line as much as they could have.  The first line of...

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Hero Of The Empire

I wasn’t the hero. But I had to act like one. The squadron leader watched helplessly as the over-sized Malaesian fleet ripped through their carefully planned formation.  Moving quickly, she gave orders over the comm even as she grasped her ship’s controls.  As she turned, her squadron turned with her, cycling around in a tight spin to join up with the other ships in their group.  She quickly focused in on the situation. Their group was barely holding up their side of the battle; for the fifth time already, the alien squadrons had broken up their formation.  They had lost...

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Can Christian Writers Include Magic in their Fantasy Novels?

When you think of the fantasy genre, three things probably quickly come to mind: swords, elves, and magic.  And it’s the latter that can become a problem for the Christian writer.  We’ve all probably read, or are at least familiar with, the passages in Leviticus and Deuteronomy that condemn magic and warn God’s people not to practice it.  Yet, we’ve also read fantasy novels where magic is used, whether it be in The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or The Inheritance Cycle.  And while perhaps it may be fine to read books with elements that you disagree with,...

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Portraying Reality Accurately in Your Story

“Write what you know.” This infamous adage, while looking good on paper, can be increasingly difficult to use well when put in practice. For writers of speculative fiction, it can look downright ridiculous. After all, when you’re writing a story about a bunch of halflings fighting past legions of orcs and black riders in order to destroy a piece of jewelry—is there even a point of listening to this adage? While the saying may appear maddening and out-of-place at first glance, it may not actually be saying what you think its saying. Fully understanding this adage requires one to...

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View Your Story as a Form of Art

As Christians, all of us likely have some message we are trying to actively communicate in our writing. And those of us who are not actively trying to communicate a message still can’t keep their worldview from slipping into their work. As Douglas Wilson writes in Wordsmithy, “The independence of art from worldview and worldview concerns is a myth. Every work of art is produced within a framework of worldview assumptions. […] It is not whether certain values will be propagated by art, but rather which values will be propagated.” As Christian writers, hopefully our central concern is less...

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