Aren’t we all on a quest for the best possible world? We seek lives of joy and beauty, useful purpose and satisfaction. As Christian writers and word warriors, we’re on a quest to deliver stories that will rivet as well as challenge readers. In many senses, this means a spiritual battle. Our quest is won by prayer, perseverance, and practice—lots of practice with the sword-pen.
Whether the genre is fantasy, mystery, or action thriller, the hero’s quest is one of my favorite story plots. The quest may revolve around a treasure, a true love, a secret, or a destiny—or maybe all of the above. But on the bottom line, every story, no matter what its plot, is about a journey.
The Object of the Quest
In my recently finished Anchor at Alcázar Reef, Valeria Serrano journeys to Spain…on a quest to find an outlet for her gifted hands and joyful heart, a faith and calling she chooses rather than one she drifts into by default.
Next up on my fiction writing schedule, Hope Chest, recounts Angie De la Cruz’s harrowing journey—read escape—from a coerced marriage in an island potato patch to an urban world with its own set of dreams and hazards lurking on the horizon.
In a nod to my own family history, I’m also noodling the idea of a fictionalized memoir I’ll call The French Maid for now. In this search for the past, Keli Peterson and her aunt set out on a trip from coastal Maine to Cape Breton and Quebec, led only by a few clues to the secret of her Grandmamá Rose-Alice’s enigmatic life. Their discoveries along the way will change both their lives.
In all these adventures, the quest was won—undertaken, accomplished, and rewarded—through following the Guide and His instructions. Only God can sand and polish our broken-bottle lives to jewels of His redeeming grace. He is our Hero, Guardian, and Champion on every journey.
Search for the Words
Every time I take up my pen for a sword (whether I’m writing a website post or an epic novel), I ask myself two questions:
- How can I minister/serve others?
- How can I glorify God and promote His kingdom?
In other words, what’s the message…first, for myself, and then for my friends? And I’m searching for the right vehicle…the words. The precise words that will connect with the readers and touch them in a way that will reach into their hearts and make an impact.
While I don’t claim to hear the audible voice of God, I’m trying to listen to my Counselor and Captain in this writing battle. And I pray that I might communicate well and…
Win with Words
I pray for you, those who might read next week or next year. God, please help me…
- Entertain my readers. They need to enjoy each book and to finish it uplifted, moved, and satisfied. Recreation is an important investment in the joy of life, and reading a book should be fun, not a waste of time. When a person is entertained, her heart opens to receive truth through the back door, so to speak.
- Enlarge my readers. We all need the education of fresh insight and a different perspective from time to time. As our minds are exposed to new ideas, new places and people, we learn to understand others and to think beyond our own small world. For example, instead of plain mustard on a hot dog, why not load on avocado or sauerkraut like they do in Chile? Or try fighting with words instead of guns?
- Amaze my readers. While that may sound over-ambitious, part of the fun of creation is the sense of wonder and unpredictability. Readers love to be surprised and curious, not bored with the routine. A person whose imagination is awakened will keep turning pages.
- Affirm my readers. We need the reassurance that we’re not alone in our thoughts and feelings, so I try to validate my readers while sharing my concerns with authenticity. When a person understands herself, she gains hope and can give encouragement to others.
“A writer needs a tough hide, to fend off the slings and arrows of criticism.” –William M. Strong, founder of Gospel Mission of South America
“And writers need a soft heart, to understand.” –adds my husband.
- Stir my readers. Let me write with passion instead of cool cynicism. I’d rather burn out than dry up in monotony. Readers too want to feel roused to emotion—they want to laugh, cry, shiver and seethe through the characters I create. These vicarious experiences help us to deal with our own situations and motivate us to make a difference where we live.
- Challenge my readers. We all need to evaluate our lives regularly, to outgrow the old habits and grow up into new and different thought patterns. We can be more, we can do better. When a person is inspired to remember her potential, she can become the hero of her own story.
- Empower my readers. They can change! And transformed hearts really can change the world. Story characters stimulate our growth by showing us their own quests and struggles. As individuals, we may seem weak and insignificant, but a person energized by a memorable tale can win battles, one step, one word at a time.
Fight with Words
In the wars and revolutions of the world, why do despots round up and execute the writers and artists first? Because these warriors wield the formidable weapon of influence.
Words possess transforming power, and word warriors know how to fight with words. Hopefully words of blessing, rather than hostility and condemnation. Sometimes a writer’s job is hard work—really hard work. Because we have to speak the truth, though we try to temper the bad news with good. “Cursed be the one who does the Lord’s work negligently, and cursed be the one who restrains his sword from blood” (Jer. 48:10).
As I pray for my audience, I’m aware of my own acute need of a band of prayer warriors. When you remember the servicemen and women whom you know, why not add a prayer for the word warriors as well? Pray that I’ll be “a select arrow (God) has hidden…in His quiver” (Is. 49:2)
To win the war, our spiritual battle, at the end of life’s journey—isn’t that the purpose and the prize of the quest? Let’s trust and follow the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2) who will lead us to our story’s finale.