rebelling against low expectations

What advice do you have for a budding fiction writer?


KARISSA WRITES: What do you admire most in a fictional character? What issues do you think need to be addressed in fiction? What qualities seem to be lacking in “Christian” fiction? As a budding writer of clean teenage fiction, I want to be able to address the issues that my peers have found through their own reading.

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are submitted by real rebelutionaries who are looking for godly answers to tough questions and lively conversation with other young adults. You can join the conversation by commenting below. If you'd like to submit your own discussion question, email us at [email protected].


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  • Ohh, I also write fiction so I can’t wait to hear everyone else’s answers!! I’ve noticed that a lot of Christian stuff lacks plot–not as much with books, but especially movies. This is just my opinion, but I think Christian movies such as “God’s Not Dead” are trying so hard to be evangelical that they don’t actually tell a good story. They want to draw in non-Christians, but frankly, I don’t think a lot of Christians go to see movies that are billed as Christian movies unless someone invites them or something. I think allegory is always a great way to go (except I’m personally terrible at it). The Chronicles of Narnia, for instance. They’re great stories, and I personally know many non-Christians who really enjoy them. As a general rule of thumb, when writing Christian fiction, I try to not go too heavy on the church-y language. Also, I have been learning how to make sure that my main character is NOT perfect. You want the readers to be able to relate to your character, so give your protag some flaws. 🙂

    • This is a great answer. That’s funny, I was thinking of God’s Not Dead when I wrote my answer, too. I love how many writers there are here 🙂

          • Guys if you want a specifically rebelutionary blog for creative writing content then lets just do it and set one up. I can set up a nice wordpress site if you have a name and if there’s a couple of you who want to help edit and keep things running then get in touch and we can talk about how to run it. Lets just do it. What do you think? If you have content we could have a site up and running within a fortnight.

          • That sounds awesome!!! I have a short story that i would love feedback on, plus some character critiques. I’m envisioning something that could have an area for short stories, an area for specific scenes, and another for character development. How does that sound? Does anyone else have anything to add? I am willing to edit/moderate as well.

            I would like to keep it to rebelutionary kids, as that would help keep the content okay for all. Is there a way to make it where only certain people can get in? That way we’re not putting our stuff out there for everyone to see?

          • I love your ideas. Critiques would be super helpful. I was thinking that maybe we could also extend the critiquing to poetry and novels (or excerpts of them), and post articles every now and then geared towards how to edit.

          • Sure! I don’t have a lot of time to spare right now so I’m not sure I can commit to providing new content, but I’m open to editing/moderating/keeping things running there.

          • I’d love that! I’m also open to moderating/editing/keeping things going, but I’m not tech savvy. Like Haily, I dont have much time right now but I have some short stories and a few other ideas for some. 🙂

          • Ok. That’s a lot of positive response so let’s get in touch and talk about it. my email address is [email protected] (not my main account, don’t worry) so email me there if you’re interested and let’s see what happens 🙂

          • I am totally interested and I have some free time (not a lot of free time, but it is there.) I would love to help you set something like that up. I don’t know how to start or go about it, but I am an aspiring Christian writer who would love some positive feedback from other aspiring writers.

          • Hey there! I did. I just emailed you all back individually 3of you got in touch). Sorry it has taken so long, it’s been a rough month but I’m buzzing to see how we get on 🙂

      • LOL, great minds think alike. I know!!! It makes me so excited to see that there are other aspiring teen writers out there! It would be great if there was a place where all the rebelution teens could post our stuff and get feedback.

          • I’m sure there’s a way that that could be done…….do you know? Or know someone else who would know? I know there are a bunch of bloggers and tech savvy people on here, but I’m relatively new, so I don’t know anyone by name.

          • Yes, I’m sure it would be possible to make some sort of forum or website. I’m a blogger, but unfortunately I am not tech savvy! Anyone??

          • There’s also also an amazing site called Kingdom Pen for young Christian writers. It’s an amazing community with tons of resources mostly written by teens like us 🙂

          • Yes!!! I love Kingdom Pen, but I was thinking more along the lines of a specific online community where we could freely share our stories, ideas and characters and get feedback on them. Personally that would be super helpful.

          • Kingdom Pen does have a forum with categories for that sort of thing; I checked out Holy Worlds, the website that DoodleWriter recommended below, and it looks great, too. 🙂

        • That would be great! As an aspiring writer, it would be a dream to get positive feedback and helpful criticism from other Christian writers. 🙂

    • Funny, I was thinking of God’s not dead as I wrote my answer. It makes the Christians out too perfect and the atheists to be too evil and irrational. It’s too stereotyped. We gotta not use fiction to build stereotypes then bash them.

      • Yes, I think so too. It also just had a poor plot, in my opinion–there were soo many different characters and storylines, I couldn’t keep up. I thought the part with the professor at the end (spoiler alert to anyone who hasn’t seen it) was kind of cheesy as well. Have you seen the second one?

        • No, the trailer made me cringe. On the plus side, I know it has encouraged and challenged a few of my Christian friends. It only seems to be Christians who actually watch it though. Say Movie Night Kevin’s take on it was good. You can find him on youtube. He reviews loads of stuff

          • Oh my goodness! I like that YouTube channel, too. I watched War Room recently and many things in it bothered me, but I couldn’t pinpoint them until I watched Kevin’s review. It is sad that so many Christian movies make such terrible mistakes 🙁

      • Stereotyping is probably what I hate most about movies like God’s Not Dead and Do You Believe because it portrays atheists as cruel, evil antagonists to the poor, gentle Christians, and that is simply not true! Especially since some people I know who do not generally come in contact with anyone other than Christians come away from movies like that saying “Oh, atheists are mean and cruel and evil” and so when they meet one they naturally have their guard up and can be rude and standoffish. This makes atheists think exactly the same thing about us; the entire thing is just one giant mess.

  • Hi, Karissa. I am in the same boat as you are: aspiring to write good fiction for teens. I find that fiction books labeled, “Christian” often turn out to be too preachy, contain stereotypical or 2-D characters, or are poorly written. I find that the fiction stories I most enjoy and learn good morals from are the stories that are written by Christians but are not explicitly Christian, like The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia.

  • A lot of Christian fiction is either cheesy romance or like the others are saying, too preachy. The point is to write a story that people will be invested in rather than roll their eyes at because the feel like you’re having a go at them.

    One of the ways to avoid preachyness is to leave characters
    unsaved by the end of the book. Have characters who walk away and whose
    storyline does not include redemption either in terms of becoming a Christian
    or in terms of making things right with your main character.

    Other things are that you start off with your main character
    already being a Christian and give them some other struggle or a crisis of
    faith or something rather than basing the entire plot around whether or not
    they get saved. Another idea is just to write like you’d write any story but
    make your character’s faith an integral to their life. Try and be real to life without preaching.

    Also please please please don’t make the atheists into the
    most evil thing alive and the christians to be perfect. Life’s just not like
    that and it’s annoying when you read Christian fiction (or watch Christian
    films) where the Christians are the martyrs (metaphorically speaking).

    Sorry, that was long. Basically be true to life. Give your
    character legit struggles like why isn’t God answering prayer? Why does evil
    exist in the world if God is good? How do we forgive people who have wronged us
    in terrible ways? How do we deal graciously and wisely when churches split etc.
    Be as imaginative as you can but also try and be true to life when it comes to
    temptation, emotion, and everyday struggles in the Christian life.

    • “Also please please please don’t make the atheists into the most evil thing alive and the christians to be perfect. Life’s just not like that and it’s annoying when you read Christian fiction (or watch Christian films) where the Christians are the martyrs (metaphorically speaking).”
      YES!! I can identify with that so much because I personally know many atheists that are nothing like the ones in, say, God’s Not Dead (the movie) and I know Christians who are nothing like the innocent, longsuffering martyrs in that type of movie. I wish someone would come out with a movie that was actually realistic and not anti-atheist! We are always complaining that they do the same thing to us; you would think we knew better than to do it ourselves.

  • Make your plot and characters real. Keep the plot interesting and give the characters depth. Thereis nothing I hate more than a steriotypical Christian book. Read classsic liturature, and read good Christian authors for ideas. Dee Henderson for plot. Frank Perretti for plot again and spiritual depth. Lori Wick has good contemporary novels (sorry if you are a guy) and gives her chatacters some depth at the start, though they get too perfect later on. Write down ideas, play with them. Write short stories. Leave people still brokenand unsaved at the end, because that is what really happens in real life. Show struggles, both personal and church.

    Also, go and read the Mitford series by Jan Karon. They are internationally bestselling Christian books and are unique for the style in which they are written, but the characters are ao loveable and truly real that a writer can learn a lot from them.I hear great reviews from both Christians and non- Christians who have read them

    Stiidy and write in different styles, and read a large mix of secular and christian authors. Learn what makes characters relatable, because as a reader that is what makes or breaks a book for me. Don’t be sappy, please. Enter in writing contests, you will get lots of critiquing.

    “He who does not quote will never be quoted, and he who does not read will never be read.”

  • Here’s three piece’s of advice that always help me when I endeavour to write some fiction work.

    1: (Question) How Does Your Main Character(s) See the World they’re In?
    This is a pretty big thing in acting, but also helps when trying to make a Character realistic and relateable. What are their views on the current events in the setting for the story? What do they think of other characters or places? Asking these basic questions often will help keep your Chraracters consistent, and thus more relateable to people.

    2: (Advice) Depth is good, but avoid overkill.

  • What do I look for in a character……. Well I guess I like to be able to relate to them, and I like them to be godly but human. My opinion of a good main character is one that makes mistakes and does things wrong, but they KNOW they need to change and they are working at becoming a better person, instead of someone who is always making the wrong choices but it works out perfectly and they don’t feel the need to change.
    Some writing tips I have come across;
    If you know how you want the book to end but you don’t quite have a plan for the middle, work backwards. Start at the end and work you way toward the beginning.

    To make the words themselves more appealing, mix it up a bit. I read a book once called The Yearling, and, while the story was very,very good, the way the author had laid it out was very repetitive and hard to read; he used all the same words (instead of using synonyms) and and all the sentence structures were almost identical. Use variety in your writing. If that made any sense, that is 🙂
    Good luck writing!!!

    • Also I recommend Counted Worthy as a good example of Christian literature; not too preachy, not overly anti-athiest (although the culture has in this book evolved to be as anti-Christian as the Nazis were anti-Jew) and not too cheesy. You can actually find it here on The Rebelution under the “books” tab.

  • I like it when I can actually identify with a character; when that person has depth and has experienced suffering and isn’t just a happy-go-lucky-the-world-is-a-wonderful-place person.

    • Hi Olivia,
      🙂 I am back! Thank you for adding your opinion I totally agree. If the story is unrealistic you lose connection you can have with your readers.

  • Hey Karissa! That’s so awesome that you’re writing fiction!

    Like the others said, Christian fiction can get awfully preachy sometimes. Don’t focus so much on your message that you neglect the plot, characters, etc. Focus on writing a good story, and let the themes and messages flow out of that (any good story will have a major theme that comes out of the main character’s conflicts).

    Also, read good books (that’s probably obvious, I know :P). Not just recent ones, either – Lewis, Tolkien, Dickens, and other classics. The style is way different, but you can learn a lot from it.

    One website you should definitely check out is (K.M. Weiland). She posts tons of really, really helpful articles and series. I’ve also read her books Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, and they were awesome!

  • Well I guess I would not say I am a full time fiction writer but I can identify with how hard it can be. I would say that you need to spend time in the bible and praying before you even start writing. Another thing don’t make too many main characters it can get confusing.

    Hope this helps,

  • Avoid clichés. Not every old oak needs to be gnarled. Nobody really has dark flashing eyes, and I’ve never met an elderly gentlemen with a large fortune.

    Be descriptive, but don’t pile adverbs– just use better verbs. So instead of walking slowly, I could meander, stroll, limp, tawdle, struggle, stumble, hike, wander, or amble. Each one ads meaning, but without extra words.

    Keep your sentences organised, and kill unneeded syllables. (i. e. Don’t say perspecuity, when you could say clarity.)

    That’s all I have, but on “writing well” is a great book you might want to read on this.

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