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Christianity’s Capital “T” Truth in the Fiction Genre

Jerry Jenkins, Author and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Colorado Christian University

If you're a person of faith and believe you've been called to write, that alone should move you to do your best work.

The written word bears the power to heal or tear open a wound.

But how do we walk the line between ultimate truth and fiction?

How do we grab readers and reveal truth, even in cases where we don't overtly mention the gospel?

Good fiction must entertain, but what makes it True, ironically, is its believability.

How to Convey Truth in Fiction

Write what's believable.

In today's marketplace, the definitions of fiction and nonfiction seem to have flip-flopped. Successful nonfiction has to border on the unbelievable — like people dying, going to heaven, and returning to tell us all about it — while successful fiction must be believable.

In the Left Behind series I wrote for Dr. Tim LaHaye, I put fictitious characters in the way of what some may consider unbelievable Bible prophecies to show how these might unfold. My goal was not only to entertain, but also to educate — giving readers a greater understanding of biblical prophecy by presenting it in a relatable, believable way.

Create characters who feel real and knowable, which makes them believable. Give readers enough to make them care about your characters, then plunge those characters into terrible trouble — whatever drives your story.

Even if you're writing fantasy, or any other speculative genre, as long as you don't interfere with the reader's proverbial 'willing suspension of disbelief,' you can communicate Truth.

Don't preach.

Preachiness is the bane of too much writing today, especially in the inspirational market. No one appreciates having a finger wagged in their face. Give readers credit for having a brain. They're with you; they'll get it. Show them the Truth rather than telling them what to think. Even Jesus didn't explain His parables.

Write what moves you.

Readers love to be educated and entertained, but they never forget when they're emotionally moved.

The poet Robert Frost said, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." So trust your gut and write what moves you. It'll be sure to move readers. A writer capable of being moved can make a difference in the lives of people who are hurting, especially through fiction.

Allow yourself to be moved, then write from the depth of your passion.

One more thing...fill your reservoir.

To write, we need full tanks, and I'm not talking about writing resources — valuable as they are. I'm talking about our emotional, physical, and spiritual fuel tanks.

Set aside time each day to exercise, pray, and read your Bible. If you miss a day or haven't done as much as you intended, don't fall victim to perfectionism and give up. Begin anew. Soon you'll be writing from the overflow in your life.

Learn under the tutelage of world-renowned best-selling author Jerry B. Jenkins, who chairs the program and developed the curriculum. Your writing will be transformed to the next level as you learn the latest trends in book publishing and are prepared to pitch your own work to publishers and agents. You will also develop a personal website and learn the inner workings of the publishing industry, which will serve to guide you in your career as an author.

The 100% online Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing at Colorado Christian University will equip you with the skills needed for a career in the literary field.

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