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Why Fiction?

by DiAnn Mills

Christian writers are often posed the questions:

“Why fiction when you could be writing nonfiction?”

“If you feel writing is a ministry, a calling from God, then why are you putting your time and effort into story?”

“A real Christian would be writing something with real sustenance, not fiction.”

I used to swallow my displeasure with those questions and quickly compose a gracious response that sounded like I was playing defense for a losing team.

Not any more. I’m proud of what I do and not ashamed of my purpose. After years of following my passion for communicating the written word through story, I simply term the individual questioning my life’s work as a low information reader. These people mean well. After all, isn’t nonfiction the means by which people learn how to live life to its fullest and better themselves?

Not necessarily.

How many abused women purchase books about how to stop a man from beating them? Do those women reach for information on a retailer’s shelf about abused victim’s legal rights, or counseling, or finding courage in the midst of abuse?

How many victims of human trafficking find freedom by asking their captor to buy them a book about overcoming trust issues or how to escape an inappropriate relationship?

How many addictions were resolved by forcing the sufferer to read a book on the statistics of US drug use? Or the book of Job in the Bible?

How many marriages were saved because a woman shoved a book into her husband’s face about how to win back an unfaithful husband? How many relationships survived because a man insisted his wife read books about how to cook, clean, joggle work and home, child care, etc?

I think you get the picture. It’s unlikely any of the above examples found solace, peace, answers, escape, or courage in a nonfiction book because they were either too frightened to be found reading it, or they simply weren’t interested. But that victim could read a novel about abuse, human trafficking, an addiction, or a failing marriage and learn how someone changed and grew into a better person. A novel provides hope and inspires the reader to make needed changes.

A novel is a non-threatening environment that offers sound solutions to real problems. The abuser, the captor, the addicted person, or the unfaithful spouse will not feel exposed when their victims engage in a novel. The writer plants the seeds of change and subtlety challengers the reader to grow beyond her own world.

If the suggestion of using story to change dire circumstances sounds familiar, then you’ve read your Bible. Jesus used stories to convict, teach, and comfort the people to whom He ministered. He orchestrated a means of entertainment through culture to reach the people of His day. Story still meets a psychological or spiritual need in 2013, and I believe story will be a means of helping people until this earth ceases to spin.

I challenge the novelist to explore the passions of her theme and premise. Don’t be afraid to tackle the tough issues with grace and truth within the pages of an excellent story.

DiAnnMills-2013

Bestselling author DiAnn Mills creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the ACFW and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011. She is a founding board member of ACFW. You can visit DiAnn on her website at www.diannmills.com, or Facebook, or Twitter.

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9 Responses to Why Fiction?

  1. I agree.

    I truly believe that fiction slips past our defenses and teaches us truth in deep ways — truth that if presented more “straight on” might get rejected, by our experiences, our fears or our presuppositions. Fiction is incredibly powerful, provocative and transformative. And…great fun to read!

    Thank you, DiAnn, for blogging about this….KBR

  2. Well-said, DiAnn. Novels have a place, alongside non-fiction, in the broad spectrum of books that can serve to encourage, stimulate, and change the lives of Christians and non-Christians alike. Thanks for this post.

  3. DiAnn Mills says:

    Thanks Katherine and Richard! Fiction touches hearts.

  4. Ashlee says:

    I completely agree. I write Christian fantasy fiction, and have got criticism, even from my own family members, about the approach of my own books and books like mine. As Katherine (above) says, fiction “slips past our defenses,” and brings us to truth we need to see in a way we never would have seen it through the facts and more aggressive means of a non-fiction book. Thanks so much for this post, DiAnn – great thoughts!

  5. Janet Grunst says:

    Jesus used stories all the time to communicate His messages and teach us how to live.
    Many folks may never pick up “self help” books, as wonderful as they might be, but they can learn how others have, with God’s help, worked through whatever they are dealing with.

    Thanks for pointing out that Truth can also be expressed in fiction.

    Blessings,
    Janet

  6. Well said. Fiction is powerful. Everyone loves a story and can be moved by it. I love that Jesus told stories.

  7. Well-said and well-written, DiAnn. Thank you for your outstanding post.

    Blessings,

    MaryAnn
    ________________________
    MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA
    A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING
    Harbourlight Books, 2012

  8. Adele Jones says:

    A great blog, DiAnn, recognising the power of an engaging and well-crafted story to deeply move and challenge its readers.

  9. I’ve found myself having to answer the ‘why fiction’ question, but haven’t been able to express it as well as you have here. Thank you!