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To Preach or Not To Preach

by Lynn Hobbs

I’m often asked how much is too much in placing scripture or prayer in a Christian fiction novel. No one wants their character to preach unless that character is indeed a preacher. Too much and the reader may lose interest. Readers want to read a story.

With that in mind, I weave my story and concentrate on the flow. In the first chapter, I’ll have something happen that causes my character to briefly pray… either silently or out loud. Pray for strength, protection, or whatever the need to fit the situation. Pray briefly, quickly, but it must be sincere. Then jump back into the story. Pray just enough to introduce that part of the character to the reader.
Sins Secrets and Salvation
Praying should be a natural part of that character when he or she has a problem. Also, just as natural when that character is excited when something great happens and stops to give thanks in a short prayer. I try for only a few in the entire book from that one character.

Another character in the same book could be in dialog with a friend, consoling him/her or trying to help them in something. A quote from scripture, appropriate with the issue they are discussing is a learning tool to the reader. They may relate to the scripture. Maybe a grandmother or friend drew their attention to that same scripture before. Chances are that reader will remember the scripture and apply it in their life. Yes, it is a great opportunity if you jump back into your story. Let the message linger with the reader. Don’t dwell on the scripture.

The scripture or the prayer should flow as natural in the story as we breathe…not choppy or forced…smooth and even and natural.

Your character can attend church and describe what the preacher preached, again briefly…a summation. You can describe what your character felt when the preacher spoke on something they related to. Or later have that character relate how they felt to another character. Then you need to describe something entirely different. You could describe how annoyed that character felt when someone on the next pew passed out LifeSavers Wintergreen candy mints to those around her, and they loudly unwrapped the cellophane wrapper at the same time. It disturbed her attention to the sermon. Or maybe a little boy in the next pew cried because another child pulled his hair. Whatever you can describe at that point, do it. The reader will not feel preached to, because the story quickly progressed.

You never know where your book may be found… a doctor’s waiting room, a hospital library, or by whom. Even more amazing, you never know how something in your book might be helpful to a certain reader at the right moment in their life.

I always pray for direction before writing. God is awesome, and yes, I give Him the glory. As writers, we are indeed the clay, and He is the potter.

Happy writing!

Lynn HobbsLynn Hobbs is the author of the Running Forward Series: Sin, Secrets, and Salvation, River Town, and Hidden Creek, won 1st place Religious Fiction 2013, 2014, 2015 by Texas Association of Authors.
Lillie, A Motherless Child won 1st place Biography 2016, TAA.
Available on Amazon. Visit Lynn on Facebook and her website.

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