How to Write and Sell a Christian Novel
by Petra van der Zande
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By Gilbert Morris
Publisher: Write now Publications
Paperback – 186 pages
Gilbert Morris, a prolific writer with more than 100 books on his name, began writing when he was in his mid-fifties.
The fundamentals of writing a Christian novel are the same as secular books - the only difference is the values portrayed by the characters. The writing must be of the same high quality, and follow the same rules needed to create a good, readable book.
What sets the Christian novel apart is the moral force throughout the book, but the writer must be careful to present it in such a way it doesn’t become a sermon.
A writer’s basic activities should be a.) lots of writing – which he compares to a basketball player constantly taking practice shots; b.) reading – read as many books in your preferred genre as possible, and learn by osmosis.
The central question we should ask ourselves is: Why do I want to write? If we have the talent, are willing to put in the many hours it takes to write a book, not give up, despite the rejections that will surely come, then you can make it as a writer.
The book teaches how to create the novel’s framework, helps to find the genre we’re looking for, and guides us in how to create scenes and exposition. He shows the importance of breathing space between dramatic scenes, coaches us which POV to choose. There are helpful tips on how to develop the characters, by filing all important fundamentals (history) of your novel’s characters. Through excerpts of his own books (smart marketing move) he shows what he means.
It’s important to build the character from underneath as well - his/her self-image and past wounds, but in order not to clutter the story he warns not to over-develop them.
The importance of dialogue and settings are very good chapters. She shows how to create the world in which the story takes place by weaving in the weather element, the geological background, cultural and social atmosphere of the characters world.
The last chapters of the book deal with marketing.
How we succeed depends on our motivation to be pro-active – we should not passively wait till we are “discovered”.
Know the markets - research is an important part of the game.
The book gives query letter examples and advice on how to prepare the manuscript. Gilbert tells us to send it off, forget about it and start working on something else.
Each chapter has writing exercises that can also be used by writing groups.
If we want to be a writer, Gilbert tells us, we have to believe in ourselves.
“I am a writer, and going to be a better writer, and I’ll die believing that!” Self assurance is very important – when you have a gift for writing, God put it there, to be used for his glory.
A good, practical book that can help you on your way in becoming a published novelist.
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