Brief Update: So I realize I never explained what happened at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference back in May… Maybe I had an excuse or two: getting graduated from high school, parties, having a birthday, going on three trips in the summer, and now figuring out this college thing. Haha! So I’ve been pretty busy, and I’ve only had time to write for school.
In the future, when I have more time on my hands, I plan to query more literary agents for The Thrall’s Sword in hopes of getting a bigger publisher–if God wills it. Please pray that God would guide me in this process!
Last May I had the privilege of attending a writers’ conference, called the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference.
I’ve heard many times that if you want to get serious about writing, you need to attend a writers’ conference. After all, that is the place where you can meet literary agents face to face to share about your novel and—hopefully!—acquire a better chance of publication. Who wouldn’t want that? Maybe I should go to a writers’ conference for my birthday party and all my friends can get published!
While meeting a literary agent in person increases the chances of your success, there is a lot more to writers’ conferences than meeting literary agents.
Authors from around the U.S. gathered in these beautiful green, misty mountains like we were vacationing in Middle Earth. Each session offered various tips and tricks for Christian writers to become not merely skilled at adding Bible verses into stories, but great at writing in general, and incorporating a powerful message through a relatable and engaging story.
I realize that not every writer receives such a wonderful opportunity, especially a young writer like myself, so I wanted to share with other young writers some valuable tidbits I learned (with sprinklings of my own reflections here and there).
So here are six things I learned at that conference:
1. Write Truth and Write it Well. Books full of truth are desperately needed in this culture that applauds lies. But what if our truth-filled books were well-written? The perfect blend of truth and style will not only enlighten but also entertain your reader. When truth is woven in a story of intrigue, tension, and conflict, the reader is more likely to accept it than if you shove it down his throat. (Sorry to burst your bubble…)
2. Avoid predictability. Don’t make your book predictable. Push against the current of where the story naturally wants to flow and think outside the box. Are these two characters bound to fall in love? Give both characters goals that don’t coincide with the other, to keep the reader wondering how that will ever happen.
3. Make the story plausible. You’re striving to convince your reader to invest in the characters and plot for a few hundred pages, after all. Don’t make nonbelievers to always look stupid, and don’t exaggerate your spirituality! But if a part of your story needs to be unbelievable, have your character challenge the believability.
4. Avoid preachiness. Just avoid it. Avoiding it does not mean, however, that you add darkness to darkness. Be real, raw, and human, but be a perfect, spotless, brilliant light shining in the darkness at the same time. How do you accomplish that? Imagine the most perfect person who is also a human and you’ll be right on track. Yes—Jesus! You need Him to help your very human reader to understand our most Holy God. Pray, pray, pray! Which leads to my next point…
5. Keep God at the center. Your whole purpose in writing should be to glorify God. Don’t write to get famous or to get published, write so God can be famous and published! Always focus on Jesus as you write, because all that matters is that you are famous in His eyes. Colossians 3:23 gives a great picture of what our attitude should be as we write for God alone: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (ESV). So write heartily! Writing is no drudgery or meaningless pursuit when God’s beautiful character and truth is soaked in the story from beginning to end. Always remember that it is He you are writing for, and not for men. He is your biggest fan.
6. Don’t be discouraged. If you ever feel discouraged, think about it this way: all you have to do is take the next step in your writing journey. Never let overly critical people stand in the way of you following Him, and don’t let the enemy tempt you to procrastinate. Your writing is a weapon to fight against the enemy, and there are people who need and are influenced by good writing. Once you surrender your work to God, you’re allowing Him to change people through your writing.
The Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference was an amazing experience that gave me a bigger view of how God is working through Christian writers. I presented my novel to one literary agent, though she wasn’t interested in publishing it. But even if you aren’t able to meet an agent, I definitely encourage you to attend a writers’ conference if you want to improve as a writer.
Whether or not you attend a conference, you can always write for the glory of God. And writing for God’s glory includes drawing the reader in to a realistic, captivating story. Once people see the great author you are, you can point them to the great God who used you. Writing isn’t just a hobby. It’s a powerful way to point the world to Christ.
So, please, keep writing. Even if you’re in college like me, you can always find ways to write that beautiful truth that people desperately need to here (through essays and such!). Write the unexpected that shakes readers’ understanding of the world, and yet make it believable enough to keep the reader engaged. Incorporate truth gracefully and discreetly, so the reader doesn’t cringe at your preachiness. Keep God always at the forefront, as your Guide through the process, since He is the Author of all truly great stories.
And finally, never be discouraged. Your words could be the only light shining into a dark soul.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5