Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction

One of the dangers of going to the ACFW National Conference is that I always come home with at least ten extra pounds of books stuffed in my suitcase. And on top of that, I usually have a list of books and resources that I have to find if I can.

This year the two were one and the same. While I bought a lot of fiction books to read, I also purchased a few new craft books. I've got a stack of books to be read on my dresser and I've peppered in the craft books in between the novels. I think it should be a good mix. So since I finished Exposure the other day, I moved on to The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke.

Jeff is an astounding individual. He's published six novels himself, he's worked inside the Christian publishing industry and climbed up the corporate ladder in the process. He's a book doctor, website maintainer, and now the publisher of Marcher Lord Press. I first met Jeff last year at the ACFW Conference in Minneapolis (where I interviewed him for the CSFF Blog Tour). And as I said last year, I'm amazed at Jeff's heart for Christian fiction and those who write it. He's encouraging and thoughtful but not afraid to tell the brutal, honest truth.

He brings a lot of this wisdom and heart to this book. Basically this is a compilation of advice that he gave to readers in an e-column on his website, Where the Map Ends. Not every tip is here, but in this book, Jeff covers the basics. Why write Christian fiction? Who are you doing it for? How does POV work and what traps can a writer fall into? Jeff lays a solid foundation that's helpful to both beginners and the more experienced.

The cool thing is that while this is obviously crafted for the Christian author, I think non-Christian authors would benefit from it as well. The advice that Jeff gives is definitely not relegated solely to Christians.

Jeff's voice shines through every page. It's very strong. I truly appreciated that since Jeff obviously also has a heart for speculative fiction and many of his examples and asides came from speculative fiction of all types.

But don't let that throw you. If you want some good, solid advice on writing, you can't go far wrong with this book. I know I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel about editing and selling fiction.

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