One of the best tools for writing is to learn by looking at the masters.
This helps you learn how to improve your writing and deal with certain doubts or concerns.
In this article, I look at 3 things you should know when writing overtly Christian stories – stories like Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, where Christian ideas are obviously present but still entertaining and not too preachy.
1. Study Ideas Deeply
Don’t be satisfied with being able to explain theology through “Christianese” and the cliché phrases you hear all the time in church.
Learn what these ideas really mean – what they look like even without religious labels attached to them.
Say for example you’re writing something to illustrate how God sometimes manipulates events rather than bending physics to do outright miracles.
Anyone can use church language (terms like “mysterious ways,” “what was intended for harm God used for good”) to explain this idea.
When Lewis wrote about this idea in The Horse and His Boy, he went beyond clichés and talked about it in a fresh way.
He really understood what this idea meant and how it worked, not just how people describe it.
2. Develop Good Writing Skills
It’s tempting to believe that all you really need is a convicting, fascinating message to make your story work.
The difficult truth is that storytelling is, in one sense, just like public speaking.
If you’ve ever watched a student stumble his or her way through reciting a famous speech, you know that having the right words isn’t enough. Delivered poorly, even the resounding “I Have A Dream” speech can sound boring.
Effective public speakers (such as Richard Greene) know that they need both good messages and skills such as looking audiences in the eye.
Similarly, effective storytellers know that to impress readers, they need both good messages and skills such as developing interesting characters.
Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters is a great example of this technique.
It has important messages about how spiritual forces can mess with humans, but it’s also a humorous, well-written satire. The book is well-written that even secular people like John Cleese and Andy Serkis have played Screwtape in audio adaptations
3. Recognize Some People Will Miss the Point
Not everybody who reads your work will choose to follow Jesus. There are people who read all the Narnia books and don’t really pick up on the allegorical elements.
This doesn’t mean you’ve failed.
In a sense, writing these kinds of stories is like evangelizing people.
Everyone’s walking their own faith journey, so sometimes you say all the right things but for some reason, they don’t respond the way you want them to.
They may take a while to realize they need to get right with God. You might not see the moment they make that choice.
All you can do is trust God and use the skills you’ve been given as best you can. The rest is out of your hands.