I have always felt God in fiction. Not all fiction, of course. But in a lot of the fiction I read—no matter the genre—I have always been able to close the book after that last chapter and feel something that God wanted to teach me. A little nugget of wisdom to carry with me, or sometimes a mirror into the flaws that hold me back from being the woman He wants me to be.
But how can this be? Fiction isn’t real, right? It’s just a made-up story. Well, yes, that’s true. Fiction is just a made up story. But in an opening keynote at a virtual writer’s conference, N.D. Wilson described this life we’re living as God’s story and we are all part of it. We are all characters in God’s story.
So, if God can write a story, why can’t we? And if God can write His story in such a way that it touches us, changes us, and teaches us, why can’t we? (No, I’m not comparing my writing ability to His!)
I recently had the privilege of attending a virtual class by Dr. Bill Giovannetti. Dr. Giovannetti is an adjunct professor at A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary, Simpson University, and Trinity International University. He’s also the senior pastor of Pathway Church and the author of over twenty books. In short, he knows his stuff. In this virtual Zoom meeting, he explained how we can embed Biblical theology in our writing. Even fiction writing. And he taught it much better than I ever could, so I won’t try to outline everything he said. But there were a few highlights that stood out to me.
First of all, I was really inspired by his opening statement that as a Christian writer, I am a leader in the Church, and I have been given the unique opportunity to communicate a Christian worldview in my writing. What a humbling thought.
But how do I do that?
Dr. Giovannetti first described three realms of life. The Outer Realm, where we exist. This is our everyday life. We live, we work, we love, etc. This is where a lot of our fiction books start, with the setting.
The Inner Realm is what makes our inward self-beliefs, emotions, faith, etc. This is where our fiction books start going a little deeper into the character’s hearts and minds.
And then there’s the Invisible Realm, the heavenly realm. This is where the unseen live all around us. God, His Son, angels, Heaven. It’s also where Satan exists and his demons. This is where the spiritual conflict takes place.
I liked the question he posed. “How do you earn your wings as a Christian writer?”
The answer is simple: by setting the first two realms within the third. As a fiction writer, I can show the difficulties a character is having in either the Outer Realm or the Inner, and use those conflicts to bring the story to a deeper level within the Inner Realm.
Here’s an example, based on one of my favorite novels. The main character is a nurse in World War Two. (Outer Realm) She struggles with her self-image and ability to make friends, which results in her being isolated and lonely. (Inner Realm) Then she finds herself a victim of vicious lies and hatred, and almost lets it consume her with a desire for vengeance. (Invisible Realm) But as she grows, she discovers God’s grace and love extended to her, just as she is. Thus she is able to accept herself and also reach out to others in need of that same love and grace.
Do you see? This author was able to insert a Biblical theology in this beautiful story through the character’s everyday situations and her raw emotions. And she didn’t do it by pounding someone over the head with the Bible. Just a simple story of Providence and grace.
So, back to what I said in the beginning. When the story is written well, with a thread of Biblical theology woven throughout, I can feel God in it, even if it’s fiction. I have walked away from works of Christian fiction inspired and moved to be better. That’s one of the reasons I love to read and write fiction, and as a writer, that’s what I want to strive for. I want to inspire and encourage others, but most of all, I want my writing—my works of made-up fiction—to point to the God who is still writing His story and allowing me to play a role in it.
*Sources: Dr. Bill Giovanetti-“The Writer’s Secret Weapon” virtual class, courtesy of West Coast Christian Writer’s and Veritas School of Biblical Ministry
Thank you, Crystal Grant, for guest blogging here on FlyingFaith!
About Crystal Grant: Crystal Grant has been teaching first grade for 15 years. She’s an author, who’s currently writing her upcoming book Shadowcast. She’s also the proud owner of the blog ‘Single Minded’ where she encourages other singles to live their fullest lives now and to make the most of their current season of life. She can be found on her a Facebook page and an Instagram page where she likes to share her writing journey and her love of books. Plus, she likes to create and feature her book storyboards on Pinterest.
Link to Crystal Grant’s Blog: [www.singleminded.weebly.com]