Writing is writing is writing. Writing for the Christian audience is similar to submitting to secular markets, with a few exceptions.
· Be real. Whether fiction or non-fiction, Christian writing must reflect reality. Don’t be self-righteous, appearing to stand on a spiritual pedestal. We all are schlepping through life and both readers and writers experience times of defeat as well as times of victory. If you honestly share your spiritual struggles, you will connect with your readers in a very personal way. One word of caution: don’t assume the martyr stance. Sometimes, in their attempt to be real, Christian writers go overboard in rehashing the details of their tragedies. They take on the role of suffering servant instead of emphasizing the strength God provides.
· Do not use “Christianese”—jargon known only to those growing up in the faith. Jargon usage cuts out a good portion of your readers, making them feel like outsiders. Replace cliches with fresh, innovative wording that communicates clearly. Show, don’t preach.
· Perfect your craft. Good writing is just as necessary for the Christian market as it is for any market. Check for wordiness, grammar and sentence structure (of course), flow, character development, and plot movement. Do not let your writing be second rate just because your audience is steeped in Christian forgiveness. Christian editors and agents are just as demanding (and rightfully so) of excellent work.
· Write the truth based on your Christian beliefs—which means the Bible. And speaking of Holy Writ (a very old-fashioned term for the scriptures—I just wanted to impress you), use a Bible translation that fits your audience. If you’re writing to older people familiar with the faith, you might want to use the King James Version or the New King James Version. It is written in Elizabethan English—think Shakespeare. On the other hand, if you’re trying to target young people, the Message is very modern and easy to understand. There are many translations and paraphrases to choose from, making it easier for writers to connect with readers. Use the one that fits your audience.
o Another thought about writing the truth: I frequently pray my writing will encourage readers to survive life’s curve balls by exercising their faith. What I often find, I am the one challenged. My shortcomings are highlighted, and I’m reminded of God’s care as my words speak to me. I guess truth goes both ways.
· Do your research. There are many fine resources to help strengthen your message as you share your Christian faith with readers. Thanks to the internet, these are readily available. Here is a list of trusted resources for Bible research and for publishing information:
6. Christian Writers’ Market Guide, by Jerry Jenkins
So, there you have it. Writing is writing is writing. All markets make the same demands: excellence, honesty, and just plain good work. Go and do your best.
Blog: “Grow with God” at www.sueraatjes.blogspot.com
Sue Faris Raatjes is a former high school English teacher and writer with credits in various Christian magazines. She’s taught Bible studies to all ages for many years. She has four children, ten grandchildren, and lives in Phoenix with her husband, Bob.