I’m re-reading through Sol Stein’s book, How to Grow a Novel, and the first chapter begins with the perfect topic:
Not characters, plot, setting, internal angst, romantic tension…none of those, but at the very source of why books are still popular in the 21st century. Readers.
We write to give the readers an ‘experience’; to take them out of their rocking chairs, couches, beds…or wherever, and guide them – no push them into the skin of someone else. The reason they purchase the book they picked up in the bookstore is because they had an immediate emotional reaction to the first page, or back cover, or somewhere in between.
When we write, we must think about who is reading and be thoughtful to their reading ‘needs’.
My BEST ‘editor’ is my best friend. She isn’t a writer and doesn’t know the roots and twists of characterization and plot – BUT she knows a good story. When I send her a chapter to read, I pay close attention to her comments and question. Why? Because someone else, like her, will be reading my book and I need to be thoughtful to the process of reading. Stein calls it ‘etiquette’, and I think that term sums it up pretty well.
Now – I want to make a mental shift here:
Who are the readers of the Bible?
Well, if we’re Christians, hopefully you and me. God, the Ultimate Author, designed a book that is chock full of all those fringes – characterization, unexpected events, angst, CONFLICT, – but God was thoughtful to his readers.
He speaks in a language we can understand & He told STORIES.
He paints pictures with words – Parables
He gives us adventure, romance, suspense, heartbreak, and terror.
He doesn’t always take us where we want to go – in fact, the Bible is filled with unexpected choices/events and contrasts.
He shows us the lives of real people with real struggles (some larger than life, some simpler), and we see them fall, succeed, respond with superhuman strength and will – because they serve a superhuman God.
Let us take our examples from the Author of our Faith and keep our readers in mind when we write.