Can You Keep a Pure Mind While Reading about Darkness in Literature?

In my article, “All Art is Christian Art,” I proposed that any beauty in art must by necessity find its traces in the order of the world God created. My three main goals were to show that art is essentially objective, being grounded in God’s original design; to prove that secular literature can still give us an incredible understanding of God and his creation; and to help Christians evaluate literature and be savvy in their reading choices.

I thought my case rested there, but through certain conversations, I began to realize that I had failed to cover a precept that was vital to the Christian approach to literature.Pure_Mind

I had a serious problem because I was up against a Bible verse:

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8, NKJV).

Based upon what I already knew about the foundation of art in Christianity, I was certain that even books with faulty themes could impart loads of good and noble things to meditate on. [Read more…]

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Daeus is the happy lunatic behind a novel and novelette, with plans to expand that repository as infinitly as possible. He has a passion for philosophy and theology, especially in areas where most people would consider the issues too murky to draw any conclusions on. This combines perfectly with his love for fiction where the depths of theme, subtlety, and humanity can be explored with absolute limitlessness. His main interests are in action and adventure type stories with deep philosophical aspects, though he is as yet unable to rest in any single genre.
Perhaps the most addicted person to the Kingdom Pen forum ever to exist, you can always catch him commenting over there. When not writing, Daeus enjoys thinking about writing, talking about writing, and reading.

The Secret to Writing a Unique Conversion Scene

Sometimes it’s not just the secular market that has problems with conversion scenes. Many conversions in Christian fiction are skipped over, viewed as boring, or actively avoided, because when someone attempts to write an “original” conversion story, it ends up being one that people have already heard. The fact that Jesus died for our sins isn’t a major revelation in modern Christian fiction. It’s not strange, or clever, or unexpected.uniqueconversion

What are we supposed to do when the greatest story in the world becomes cliché?

Writing Unique Conversions

If you are writing for the Christian market, chances are that anyone who reads your book will be a Christian. At the very least, they will know enough about Christianity that the fact Jesus saved them will be old news. Thus, the easiest (and possibly best) way to write a conversion scene is simply that you don’t. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brandon Miller
Raised on C.S. Lewis and matured (to whatever extent) on Tolkien, Brandon Miller is a huge fan of Christian speculative fiction. His favorite stories artfully bend the physical reality to reveal spiritual realities which apply to all realms, kingdoms, districts and solar systems (including our own.)
When not writing fiction Brandon spends his time tending his blog The Woodland Quill, sportsing, or just struggling through that last-year-of-high-school/first-year-of-college which is really neither but is definitely both.

Three Ways to Write Christian Fiction for a Secular Audience

An enduring problem faces Christian writers who want to share their faith through their novels: if they include their faith in their books, it becomes “Christian” fiction. Christians read Christian fiction. Christians don’t need saved. Unsaved people read secular fiction, and they won’t ever end up touching an outspoken Christian’s book. Does that mean that no outspoken Christian will ever be able to lead someone to Christ through a novel? How in the world are we to use fiction to glorify God and bring people to Christ? Is the deck stacked against us and that’s that?secularaudience

No.

God is greater. Christians can (and will) change the world. But how are we, as writers, supposed to fulfill the Great Commission?

By writing stories so enthralling that they can’t be put down—or forgotten. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brandon Miller
Raised on C.S. Lewis and matured (to whatever extent) on Tolkien, Brandon Miller is a huge fan of Christian speculative fiction. His favorite stories artfully bend the physical reality to reveal spiritual realities which apply to all realms, kingdoms, districts and solar systems (including our own.)
When not writing fiction Brandon spends his time tending his blog The Woodland Quill, sportsing, or just struggling through that last-year-of-high-school/first-year-of-college which is really neither but is definitely both.

Three Tactics for Battling Your Way Through NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year when we fasten our capes, buckle on our swords, brace our fingers, and begin to fight—ahem, write.

Fifty thousand words written in one month. Are the warriors who attempt this venture insane or courageous? Perhaps they are both, but whether you defeat NaNo or merely survive it, the fight will strengthen you in your day to day struggles against word counts and plot twists. After all, producing a five-hundred word article is nothing compared to writing two thousand words a day for a whole month.3tacticsslider

With this major battle before you, here are three tactics that can give you victory in your quest.

1. Deadlines

Yep, those things that nag at you when you try to ignore life—or writing. But deadlines make sense. No one enters a war with the whole fight laid out before them. Instead, a soldier is assigned one mission at a time. Wars are divided into battles, and battles into maneuverers. Conquered piece by piece, what at first seems overwhelming becomes at least doable.

Fifty thousand words in a month seems like a huge amount, but 10,250 a week breaks it down a little. If you plan to write six days a week, that’s only an average of 1,725 words a day—which is roughly five hundred words multiplied three and a half times! That’s not so bad. [Read more…]

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Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated authoress. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, archery, knife throwing, playing with inspirational photos, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She has self-published fairy tale retellings on Amazon and is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about Hope and her work on her website as well as links to download her first Legends of Light novella for free!

Top 5 Myths to Avoid When Writing about Grief

Character death is everywhere. A classic favorite among authors, playwrights, and script writers alike, its uses are numerous. Killing off a character can add realism, advance the plot, provide motivation for other individuals, or satisfy the audience with a well-deserved end. Although the exact circumstances of a character’s death and the immediate impact on those who witness it are heavily covered in literature, a less commonly portrayed aspect of death is the long-term effects it has on those who experience it.top5mythspost

Mourning in literature is often seen as an obstacle to overcome. The assumption is that people in grief need to be cured, the melancholy mustn’t drag on too long, and the most important goal is to make sure the loved one’s death was not in vain. Sadly, these common themes in fiction are inherently wrong. As respected bereavement counselor Earl Grollman once said, “Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.”

Sooner or later in life, everyone is forced to experience a deep loss. And without the guidance of counselors or family, the only voice telling people how to grieve is our shallow, profoundly confused culture. As authors, we do a disservice to our readers if our heroes are praised for ignoring their grief, or if the main obstacle is that the character just needs to decide to “be happy” again. [Read more…]

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Sierra Ret is a homeschool student who spent nearly her entire childhood with her nose buried in a book, and consequently decided she wanted to write one of her own (preferably filled with dwarves and elves). Actually getting her thoughts down on paper regularly has proven to be a far greater challenge than she first thought, but Kingdom Pen was kind enough to step in and give her some much-needed deadlines by honouring her with a temporary spot on their writing team. When not hermiting behind a laptop screen, Sierra enjoys gallivanting across Canada and adventuring near her home in rural Ontario with her family. Currently her chief fantasies include making a living as a travel blogger and someday moving to New Zealand. But above all, her chief aim is to live a passionate and meaningful life for the glory of God.

How to Avoid Freaking Out During NaNoWriMo

Ah, fall…my favorite season. It is around this time each year that I find myself participating in a few of the essential autumn activities—apple picking, pumpkin carving, and freaking out because I am not ready for NaNoWriMo! In all likelihood, you have also participated in one or more of these activities yourself, but today I’d like for us to focus our attention on freaking out, and why you don’t have to.nanoannouncement

First, Freaking Out

NaNoWriMo has become a staple event among writers, so I need not explain it to you here. An entire website has been dedicated to it (check it out). During the month of November (aka National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo) we all relinquish a hefty portion of our sanity in order that we might have the chance to maybe crank out a 50,000-word novel (if we’re lucky). Thankfully, the Kingdom Pen Community and Staff are here to help you eliminate the italicized words in the previous sentence and retain that robust sanity you’ve built up since the last NaNoWriMo. [Read more…]

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Michael Stanton has had what he describes as a scatterbrained adventure of a life that has recently led him to working at Kingdom Pen. When he wasn’t teaching underprivileged children in Uganda and rafting on the White Nile, he was either in Canada’s capital city studying the history of Christianity or in Michigan learning how to make films. Originally from Banner Elk, North Carolina, Michael grew up homeschooled and surrounded by the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. Those mountains inspired Michael’s love of writing (and, let’s face it, the Lord of the Ringsmovies also helped). Many years and adventures later, Michael found himself getting a marketing degree, and low and behold, Kingdom Pen was in need of a Marketing Director. What are the odds that God didn’t see that coming? All divine providence allusions aside, Michael is super excited to get to work in an organization that so closely matches his desires to see more quality content streaming from the minds and hearts of his fellow Christians.

Exposing The Darkness: Writing Evil…Right – Part 2

By Jamie Dougall

The first part can be found here: Exposing The Darkness: Writing Evil…Right Part 1

 

2. The Story

Every story you write will be different from the others. Each will have its own particular set of limits. We have already established why stories need evil to generate conflict, but we haven’t stopped to ask why you are including these elements in your story. Paul makes an excellent point when he writes there is a difference between participating in the unfruitful deeds of darkness and exposing them (NASB, Eph.  5. 11-12). In writing, that difference is wrapped up in theme. writingdarknessfb

Theme keeps your use of gore and darkness in check because it puts meaning behind the events of your story. Without a theme, we risk losing our way in the darkness.  We risk forgetting our purpose and aimlessly writing evil for no other reason than to create something we hope is ‘entertaining’. As a Christian, this is a very real problem. If you are using gore and darkness solely as a draw card or as your story’s ‘energy drink’, you are not exposing the darkness. You are participating in it.

You can use your theme to set limits for your story by making your conflict, and therefore, your use of darkness, flow out of your story’s theme.

  • Establish what your theme is.

If your theme is something like “Love is powerful”, you will then consider what true love looks like in action. A loving person is sacrificial, caring for others even more than he or she cares for himself.  [Read more…]

Exposing The Darkness: Writing Evil…Right – Part 1

By Jamie Dougall

 

Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated, or perhaps obsessed, with right and wrong. Mom tells me stories about how I knew there was a right and a wrong way to do something, and would not do anything until I figured out which way was right. Now I’ve grown some since then, and I’ve realized sometimes there is more than one way to get a job done. Still, I have that same desire to get things right, and that desire redoubles when it comes to the written word. writingdarknessfb

After all, once your words are in print and in the hands of your readers, you can never change them. I’ve wrestled with questions like:

  • Is it appropriate to write violence and gore?
  • Is it evil to write evil?
  • How dark is too dark?

Many Christian writers struggle with these questions. We want to craft good stories, we want to “get it right”, but most of all we want to honor a God who hates evil. We feel stuck and kind of dirty, wondering if God is upset because our stories contain so much darkness. We stare at our notebooks or computer screen and ask, “Did I just cross the line?”

In order to truly answer these questions, we must first trace darkness to its root. Why do we include evil in our stories at all? Most would quickly respond, “Because we have to! Stories would be lame and boring without darkness and evil. Nobody would read them.”

But why?

It turns out, the answer is really simple. With the possible exception of survival and “man versus nature” genres, all stories depend upon sin, darkness, and evil to create conflict. If you have good, it seems perfectly natural to have evil come up against it. Christian and non-Christian authors are all in agreement with this idea. Though some authors might protest my word choice, their work testifies to the fact that stories rely on a moral battle to create conflict and generate plot. [Read more…]

Dark Christian Fiction: A Contradiction in Terms?

When you pick up a work of fiction at your local Christian bookstore, you can probably expect a couple different things in it.  You can expect it to center around Christian characters that run into some kind of a problem.   You can expect there to be either a really nice atheist or a really mean atheist who ends up converting by the book’s end.  You can expect the main conflict in the book to be challenging—but not overly so, because by the book’s end, everything will need to wrap up in a happy ending.

And it’s because of this that some of you may be doing a double-take upon reading the term: “dark Christian fiction.”  Is Christian fiction really allowed to be dark?  Doesn’t writing for the Kingdom and shining Light in our fiction mean that we want to avoid writing fiction that’s going to be really dark?darkchrisitianfictionpinterest

There can be some fair cautions that should be taking when portraying darkness in fiction that I’m going to address later on in this article.  But what I want to argue in this article is simply this: Darkness must not be excluded from Christian fiction.  We can have a lively discussion how darkness should best be portrayed and how much of it should be shown.  But a refusal to accept dark tones in fiction is problematic.  And because of this, dark Christian fiction is therefore not a contradiction in terms but one that we ought to accept not only as a valid category, but also a necessary category in the world of Christian fiction.

Darkness in Christian Literature

Let’s go back to the hypothetical bookstore that you’re perusing.  You pick up a random book off the shelf, read a couple pages, and soon discover that the book is about a man who was unjustly imprisoned for twenty years and who, upon being freed, proceeds throughout the rest of the book to take revenge on everyone who had wronged him.

Perhaps a bit shocked, you put the book down and pick up another, hoping for something better.  But in this book, the main character is a college-dropout without a real job who within the first several chapters ends up murdering his landlady with an axe for a variety of reasons and as the book progresses, goes on to fall in love with a prostitute.

Both of these books would perhaps be tough sells to make in today’s Christian market.  [Read more…]

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Josiah DeGraaf started reading when he was four, started writing fiction when he was six and hasn’t stopped doing either ever since. After growing up with seven younger siblings, he eventually found himself graduated and attending Patrick Henry College, where he plans on majoring in literature with a minor in pedagogy (it’s a fancy Greek word for education).
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels that have 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 fun as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. Plans for obtaining those impossible goals include listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer, ignoring college work so that he can find time to write, and avoiding coffee at all costs.

A Three Tiered World

By Hope Schmidt 

I’ve created three fantasy worlds in the past four years. Designing worlds, writing legends, holding the first printed copy of your book…it carries a thrill of creation. Of bringing to light something which didn’t exist before.

For those on one end of the spectrum, creating worlds is exciting and it can be tempting to avoid actually writing the story while forming layer upon layer of details worthy of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. On the other end of the spectrum are those who want to get the world building over as quickly as possible so they can move onto the story. In either case, it’s important to have enough development in your world so the story rings true and yet not get so bogged down or glide so high that you don’t ever move on with the story by which this world will be known. 3tieredworldpinterest

It may be easiest to view your world like a three-tiered structure and, while I’m focusing on fantasy worlds here, this same template could work if you are writing about our own world in the far future.

 

3 Tiers to every story world

 

1. The Foundational Tier

The first, or bottom level is the Foundational Tier of your world. This is your geography. The lay of the land. Whether you have one nation or several, there are the same basic formations such as rivers, forests, mountains, cities and roads. National lines need to be drawn and the nations themselves named (there’s no need to worry about national flags and cultures yet…that will come in a bit).

Also part of this first layer are fun details, like how many suns and moons your nation has. And then there are other aspects which you may or may not decide to develop depending on whether you need them or not…details such as what stars travelers use to guide them, nighttime constellations, weather patterns, unique storms, and length and type of seasons.

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated authoress. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, archery, knife throwing, playing with inspirational photos, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She has self-published fairy tale retellings on Amazon and is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about Hope and her work on her website as well as links to download her first Legends of Light novella for free!