The Writer’s Challenge: Short Story of the Month

Got some crazy ideas that you want to see thrown together into short stories and the like?

 

Wondering if you can give a writing challenge too difficult for an author to accomplish?

 

Bring it on!

 

We’re going to have a monthly feature called “The Writer’s Challenge”.  You brainstorm the story elements, you choose the story elements, and I write the short story.  This will be written from a Christian world view, so I thank you ahead of time for keeping it clean (inappropriate posts will be deleted).  Here’s how it’s going to work each month, using December as our first example…

 

1) I’ll begin by starting a blog for “Foundation Week- December”.  The first week will be dedicated to brainstorming, and any related material needs to be presented as a reply to this.  This is your opportunity to post your story elements, whether they be elements you think are cool or elements you think I don’t have the skills to handle.  Feel free to include any of the following:

  Mood (funny, serious, adventurous, etc…)

  Genre (fantasy, modern, sci-fi, etc…)

  Characters

  Settings

  Plot elements

  Items (weapons, possessions, animals, relics, etc…)

 

Please use headings for your choices so I’ll have an easier time gathering them.  If you have something that doesn’t fit under one of these categories, you can use the heading “Other”.  Please do not comment on other posts, there will be opportunity for this later.  Any ideas for the month must be posted before the week ends.

 

2) At the end of the first week I’ll gather the ideas and post them by section in the new blog “Thru the Fire- December”.  Here you will have the opportunity to vote on the best idea in each section, and leave any additional comments that you want to share.  Please remember to be respectful to all other posters.  Voting will close at the end of the month, so be sure to get in there on time and make your voice heard.

 

3) After “Through the Fire Week” ends the results will remain available for all to see.  I will then spend the rest of the month crafting the best story I can from the top voted elements in each category.  The finished story will be posted by the end of the month, along with a poll for rating the story.  As the next month’s challenge gets underway, make sure to read the previous month’s story and tell everybody how you think I did with voting and comments.

 

That’s it!  Make sure to tell all of your friends; the more participants we have the more creative I will have to be.  If we grow large enough, I will add in prizes for participants and maybe even showcase opportunities for guest authors.

 

So… who thinks they got what it takes to stop the ink from flowing?

Glory and Praise

And the rider’s yellin “HA!”
As the horses eat up the path
Their flames blaze big
Cuz I’m comin’ home at last…

I see a blaze comin’ from up above
A chariot on fire, fueled by love
To the touch it’s cool
But my heart feels the flames…
And they’re burning away the pain
I no longer have to stay away
I’m going Home…

Preachy Fiction

There seems to be a very real problem in the realm of Christian fiction writing. We seem to have lost our focus on why we write. We seem to have displaced the One for whom we claim to write. All things are for God’s glory, all things. That includes fictional literature. If not, then “Christian Fiction” is a joke.

But I do not believe that Christian fiction is a joke, because I believe it’s purpose is good and true. Not Christian fiction for fiction’s sake, but Christian fiction for the glory of Christ. For a love offering unto Christ.

So much is spoken by Christian authors against “preachiness” in Christian novels. I can’t help but wonder if the real root of that complaint lies in our insecurities. We’re so afraid of being looked down upon by the world that we’re willing to bash the very purpose of our existence, which is to love God and to bring Him praise. We want to be part of the in crowd, we want to be the “cool” authors. I’m reminded of John 12:42-43 “Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in Him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.”

I completely agree that there isn’t very much appeal in a poor story with a forced message. But better a true message with a poor story, then an idle tale that captures the hearts of men. Now sure a truly great story will have an underlying truth. But two things should be considered at this point. One, it by no means negates or diminishes the value of truth plainly spoken. Two, not all stories that capture the hearts of men are truly great. If they are contrary to the Lord, then they are a most horrid thing indeed.

Now I’m not saying that Christian authors are producing anti-Christian books. I am saying the effect of their stance is that authors feel ashamed to proclaim the gospel unto all creation (last I checked fiction readers are very much a part of that creation).

There is nothing wrong with out and out Christian preaching in a fiction book. Nothing. Nothing. I can keep saying the word if you need me to…  The real problem though, which may possibly be why Christian authors feel the need to speak out against “preachiness”, is that a good sermon need not be dressed in a fiction story. There is no need to force a story upon a truth, truth can stand on its own. But that is the extent of the problem.

You could have in your hand the preachiest Christian fiction book ever written, and so be holding the best fiction book in history. The secret is simply having an amazing story that fits the message. It doesn’t matter how “preachy” you are. It really doesn’t. Just make sure that you have a great story to go with it, and that the message blends with the story in a beautiful harmony. Now there’s a work that you can see God smiling down upon!

Please don’t take this as an attack on Christian authors. It’s not. It is, however, a most intentional full frontal assault on the problem of shaming those who speak the truth boldly (and boldly they should!). Do not feel like you have some sort of duty to bash preachers. You have a duty as readers and writers to encourage good writing! And you have a duty as Christians to encourage good preaching!  If the message of Christ is not worthy of being plainly stated in a fictional story, then rest assured that neither is any other message worthy (not even the message of how Joe Fantasy slew the dragon)!

Keep writing good stories, as your love offering to God! Keep preaching every good message that is afforded by the circumstance, for the glory of God! And keep watching for His return, when the good story of man reaches it’s triumphant climax.