Monday, August 31, 2015

Finding Your Writing Voice, Part Two by Annette M. Irby

woman reading*

Last time, we talked about our passion and how that relates with our writing voice. This week, let’s talk about how to write our message into our fiction.

Proceed with Caution

Our passion for the message can drive us, but it can also get us into trouble. (Zeal makes for great preachers, but it can turn off readers.)

If, when we're writing fiction, we put too much of a slant into our fiction and we lose our focus on the fact that fiction should be entertaining first and foremost, we might lose readership. And as we know here at Seriously Write, it's all about the reader. Sometimes we're so passionate about our message that we begin to preach at our audience. And there's really no room for that, except in sermon writing. wink)

Surprised by the Message

So how do we find the balance between including our message and overdoing it? That's a great question. So far in my fiction projects, I’ve found that I stumble upon my message depending on the story I’m writing. In fact, if I have an agenda beforehand and try to include a specific message, the story sometimes resists coming together. But when I’ve just continued to write (I’m more SOTP than plotter), other related ideas come through than what I had originally intended, including a solid message.

Perhaps the best way to figure out how to share our message in our writing is to consider what not to do. Here’s a list of tips for including your message in your fiction writing:

  1. Avoid preaching. :) We’ve covered that one.
  2. Don’t lose sight of the fact that fiction must be geared toward entertainment first.
  3. Be subtle. Let the message come through the story. Some have called this “organic writing” because the story lends itself toward a message. Letting the message come through the story helps avoid that contrived feeling (in this context)
  4. Don’t be afraid to change themes/messages as the story unfolds. It’s possible God’s trying to teach you something as you’re writing that particular manuscript and that message, that lesson, will come through—if it’s fitting, and if we let it.
  5. (Related to #4 above) Let God lead. Purposeful storytelling was His idea. He can help us with ours if we let Him.

How about You?

So, what about you? What have you found that works in regards to intentionally including your message without alienating your reader?

Write on, friends!


Her Nerdy Cowboy

Whoever heard of a bookish cowboy? When Logan McDaniel’s brother-in-law dies, he steps in to help his beloved sister run her ranch. But what does a city boy know of herding cattle? Claire Langley loved her cousin. After he dies, she agrees to serve as a temporary nanny for two heartbroken children. 

Claire and Logan find they share a love of books, and Claire can’t resist the nerdy uncle who is great with children, and who reads to her of pirate romance. Claire’s ailing mother needs her in Seattle. Can she break away? And if she does, can there ever be a future for Logan and her?


Annette M. Irby

Annette M. Irby has three published books and 
runs her own freelance editing business, AMI Editing
See her page here on Seriously Write for more information.

Photo credit: “Young Woman Reading” by nuchylee at


  1. I love number four. Sometimes, I look back and realize that, if I'm the only one who needed to "hear" what God said, that's okay.

    1. Yes! Me too, Sandra. He recently did that with me, and I understood in hindsight what He'd been showing me as I wrote the story. Love His sovereignty!

  2. I've found that something will come out that I never even thought about. In one book it was forgiveness and in my current WIP it is accepting yourself the way God created you.

    1. That's what happened to me in the book I mentioned above. I never expect to write about assumptions, but that message/theme has come up over and over again since. It's all part of the fun. :)


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