The Reality of God in my Writing

When it came time for me to finally write something, I had to ask myself the most important question. What would I want to read?

I enjoy science fiction, which I will address more in another post, but in all the science fiction I read I am sometimes bothered by a clearly atheistic view of the universe. Now I have never looked at a starry sky and thought, “How amazing that that happened all by itself.” To me the thought is absurd. When I see a brand new car I never think, “Wow, what are the chances of all those parts self-creating themselves and self-organizing in just the right combination to create an internal combustion engine.” I have always believed in God.

To be more precise, I am a Christian. That means I believe in the personal God of the Bible, and in Jesus Christ. The whole ball of wax. I cannot not believe it. I read about science and I think how amazing God is. So when I write science fiction it will certainly reflect that.

If you want to read science fiction written by atheists, there are a lot to choose from. Many of them are excellent. But I find it hard to feel any sense of hope in a world without a creator, and even more so, without a redeemer.

If you want to know what you can expect from my books, it is that God exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

Given that starting place, there may be a wide range of expression in my books. Whereas The Gifted has some clearly Christian characters and some still wrestling with their beliefs, The Last Place to Stand (should be out in a couple of weeks), has mostly non-Christian characters, but some of them begin to question their place in the universe. God is a part of that unraveling answer to the story

I cannot unbelieve what I believe: that God is real, personal, and holds the keys to purpose, and eternal life. My fiction will reflect that.


Fast action, short chapters, and short paragraphs

The first on my list of what I like to write, and what I intend to give you, is fast action, short chapters, and short paragraphs. I like to write this way, because I like to read this way.

Let’s talk about Henry James. Henry James was a 19th century writer who wrote very long, nuanced paragraphs and sentences. I read a little of him in college and was impressed at some of his writing skill. I especially enjoyed “The Turn of the Screw.” But one thing I found to be true of him was that any action in his story was going to take a looooong time to accomplish.

Another example is Victor Hugo. A great writer, but try reading Les Misérables and you will feel like you running a marathon. When will this story ever end?

I decided long ago that I don’t want to be these writers. I like a book with a faster plot. A book that makes you feel like you’re going somewhere. I don’t want to pick up a book for even twenty minutes and feel like all we’ve done in the story is walk across the room, or stare at the beautiful tree outside her house. I want things to happen. Exciting things. And I want them now!

The length of paragraphs really contributes to this feeling that things are moving forward. Nothing makes me feel like I am hiking through molasses like coming across a paragraph so long it takes three pages to finish. Where do you stop? If you are done reading, you have to read for another page and a half just to find a place to put your bookmark. I like a story that not only feels fast-paced, but looks fast-paced. That’s what shorter paragraphs do.

Both of these tie into my thoughts on chapter length. Every year I try to read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. When I tried to read other novels by Dickens, I found that, although his stories might be long, his chapters were very short. I like this. It means it is even easier to read for ten or twenty minutes at a lunch break and still be able to finish a chapter; still feel like you got somewhere.

Most of my writing has short chapters and fairly short paragraphs. That’s because I like the feeling of forward momentum when I read a story. Sure, I like character development, but not thirty pages talking about the main character’s interest in collecting bird trophies. Give me some telling details, maybe some quirks, and then get on with the story, because that’s what I came for.

And, dear reader, that’s what I want to give you.



What I Want to Write in My Books

Years ago I decided I was going to write a novel. I did it for National Novel Writing Month. That means for the month of November (30 days) I was going to write a 50,000 word novel. It was an adrenaline rush where a lot of coffee or tea was consumed and every morning, except Sunday, I wrote my 2,000 words. It was the best times, it was the worst of times, but I did it!

In order to ready myself for the event, in October I read No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, and in reading that I ran across an exercise where I made two lists. In the first list I had to write about what I liked in a novel and in the other list I wrote what I definitely did not like in a novel. When it came to the kind of books I chose to write (I participated in NaNoWriMo five times and finished each time) I decided to write according to these lists. Over the next few blogs I will go over what matters to me in writing. Specifically, these are the kinds of things you can expect from me when I write.

In case you want to get to the lists right away, here they are:

I like these in a novel

  • Fast moving action
  • Short chapters, short paragraphs, relatively short and uncomplex sentences
  • Humor-especially the main character
  • Wild sci-fi ideas
  • Other worlds or dimensions
  • The unexpected
  • Strong characters I can identify with
  • Writing from various perspectives (i.e., George, the ant on the log, etc.)
  • Mystery (trying to get to the bottom of what is going on)
  • Gleanings of wisdom or insight or even knowledge
  • Happy endings
  • Epic tales
  • Funny superheroes
  • Lonely people finding a mate
  • Sometimes archaic speech. Like O. Henry
  • A perspective that there is a God in the world
  • Symbolism, repetition of an idea
  • Male protagonist

I don’t like these in a novel

  • Very little action
  • Long chapters, long paragraphs, long sentences
  • A lot of description
  • Bedroom scenes
  • People having tea and making small talk
  • Weak characters (you can’t really figure out who they are)
  • A lot of eating or drinking
  • Only one locale
  • Depressed characters (unless they are still funny)
  • Unhappy endings
  • Bad things happening to good people (unless there is redemption later in the story-like Job)
  • Westerns
  • Horror
  • Sermonizing
  • Everyday boring settings
  • Married people cheating on each other
  • Long drawn out fight scenes
  • Children being treated badly
  • Women being treated badly

I hope to go into more detail about many of the items in these lists, partially as an exercise for me to think about what I value in a book, and partially for my readers to get to know me a little more.

‘Till next time,