Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Injecting Value

Net's Notations: All About the Reader Series, Part 5

Here’s a fun exercise: write down all of your values as a Christian. Go ahead, this blog post’ll still be here when you finish. ;-)

Got your list? Did you learn anything about yourself? I tried this exercise a few weeks ago for a project I wanted to inject more takeaway into and wow, it was eye opening.

If you’re writing fiction, run through your list again. This time, pinpoint which values specifically address the needs of the characters in your wip (work in progress). Now, consider this:

The value you’ve highlighted will also minister to readers.

The trick is in how you handle it. You never want to beat your readers over the head with your convictions. More gently, through story, you want to weave your value into the plot and into the character’s thoughts and actions. Prove your chosen value (we’re assuming it’s biblical :-) through your story, in a gentle and thought-provoking way.

Give your reader something to chew on after the last page is turned and the book rests on the bookshelf.

Give your reader a reason to come back and read the book again.

Give your reader a reason to pick up your next book, just because your name is on the cover.

Give your stories value and your reader will value your stories.

Try it. And the next time you’re reading someone else’s work, look for his or her values. I imagine they’ll be easier to spot than ever. But hang in there with the story, because, some characters should come with disclaimers: “The views of Harry Snodgrass do not represent the views of Stacy Q. Author or Christian House Publishing.” Sometimes, you have to read the entire story to see the intent of the author and discern the values espoused by him or her.

Dwight Swain, in his book “Techniques of a Selling Writer” gives this a whole different twist: Never negate our values in story. Because when you do, your creative well dries up and soon, you’re silent. And writers aren’t writers without words. (My paraphrase!)

Injecting values into your inspirational writing is a great way to edify your readers. Remember, it’s all about your reader!

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