Creative Writing for the Sheltered Homeschooler … or Christian Who Doesn’t Want to Violate Their Principles

{By Ellery Sadler}

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We are bombarded with it. Every magazine cover. Every ad. Every book. Every song. Everything.

What is it? It’s called the lusts of the flesh. Everywhere you turn there is always that underlying (or very obvious) theme of getting what makes me happy and all that comes with it.

I’ve noticed something as a writer and especially as a Christian writer: books are no different from TV shows, or movies, or magazines. They have the power to suggest even more than these, I believe, because much is left to the imagination of the reader. We get to visualize it.

But in the competitive world of writing, how do you get an agent or publishers attention without adding in all the violence and sensuality and romance and general inappropriateness?

That is how. Everyone else is doing it. Even the Christian authors. So be different. (Now I personally don’t have a problem with a kiss or two, or a little bloodshed, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about excessiveness.)

Literature is almost non-existent today. We are up to our necks in trashy, cliche, sappy, cheesy, action-packed, badly written fiction. Even Christian authors seem ready to lower themselves to the standards of the world in order to gain an audience. So what is a writer to do?

Stay true to your principles. To Biblical principles. Not someone else’s principles, not someone else’s standards: your standards and your principles. Because you will be judged by what you write. I know that whoever reads this article is judging me by it, and that’s ok.

Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t put just a little more in my stories. Are they not modern enough for the modern reader? Not enough romance? Not enough action?

But do you know what I’ve found? The modern reader is no different than any reader in the history of the world. Everyone wants to read a good story. 

People still love Little House on the Prairie and Pride and Prejudice and A Tale of Two Cities and Ben Hur – why? Because they tell a good story. That is your job as a writer. Not to satisfy the lusts of the flesh. Not to be as ‘edgy’ or ‘racy’ as you can be. Not getting as close to the edge as possible. Not to impress people. Not even necessarily to give the people what they want, but to give them the story they don’t even know they want, but can’t live without. That is your job.

There is so much power in a story, in the characters you create, in the spell you weave, the themes you portray. Tell a good story. That is what grabs the attention of an agent, of a publisher, of a reader. And that is what it means to be a great writer.

Can you write a story worth reading without lowering your standards?

If the answer is no, then perhaps you need a different story. If the answer is yes, then perhaps you have a story that will change the world. 

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