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One Message – Many Stories

by Lillian Duncan

Writing Stories of Faith…Mingled With Murder And Mayhem is the tagline on my email signature and my website. I like it, but when I tell people I write murder mysteries and suspense that are Christian Fiction, I often get a blank stare or one of disbelief.

After all, how can a book where murders, mayhem, and bad guys abound promote Christian values? Over the years I developed my answer and would explain that I write traditional mystery/suspense novels but without the gratuitous sex or bad language. And then I would throw in that my characters were at various levels of their own spiritual journeys.

The answer seemed to satisfy and all was well until…

I came across Phillipians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

Oops! Now, I had a problem.

I knew the verse before but never related it to my writing. My books might have a spiritual message but I wouldn’t call them pure or lovely. After praying and meditating about it, I came to the conclusion the Bible is full of stories of sex, greed, murder and a variety of other sins.

But the message is clear. These things are bad and will only lead to a life of misery. That’s the same message I put in my stories.

So, that’s what I do. I write about the troubles-the more trouble the better. Then I show my characters learning and growing from their adversity. Their faith becomes stronger in spite of their difficult circumstances.

How do I pick the spiritual message of my story?

Most of the time the spiritual message of my book slowly reveals itself as I learn more about my characters and their lives. I am a pure seat of the pants type writer. I don’t know what’s going to happen from one moment to the other in my story. That’s what makes writing fun for me!

Sometimes, it’s only a whisper in the first draft but the message gets stronger with each subsequent draft.

For example in my new-about-to-be-released book, DECEPTION (HarbourLight Books), all I knew was that the main character (Patti) was estranged from her twin sister to the point of not knowing she even had a niece. I didn’t know why they were estranged, but once I discovered that the missing twin was the reason Patti’s wedding was canceled years earlier, the theme of forgiveness quickly took root as part of the story.

As writers of Christian fiction, this is what we do. We write many stories with many characters in many locales with many problems but there is only one true message-GOD is our hope and our salvation.

Jesus used stories to teach Biblical truths. He knew that people naturally respond to a story and are willing to learn from someone else’s problems rather than an in-your-face approach. We call them parables. I recently learned this definition for a parable-an earthly story with a heavenly message.

Wow! How about that-I write parables and so do you.


Lillian Duncan
writes suspense novels with a hint of romance. She believes books can be entertaining and uplifting at the same time. Along with novels, she writes devotions for ChristianDevotions.us. She lives in the middle of Amish country in Ohio with her husband and menagerie of pets, including four parrots, a Jack Russell Terrier and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that she’s thinking about renaming Clifford–since he continues to grow and grow and grow…

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