Why Fiction?

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DiAnn MillsDiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Visit her website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


fictiontruthChristian writers are often posed the questions:

“Why fiction when you could be writing nonfiction?”

“If you feel writing is a ministry, then why are you putting your
time and effort into fiction?”

“A real Christian would be writing something with real sustenance, not fiction.”

I used to swallow my displeasure with those questions and compose a gracious response that sounded like I was playing defense for a losing team.

Not any more. I’m proud of what I do and not ashamed of my purpose. After years of following my passion for communicating the written word through story, I simply term the individual questioning my life’s work as a “low information reader.” They mean well. Isn’t nonfiction the means by which people learn how to live life to its fullest and better themselves?

Not necessarily.

How many abused women purchase books about how to prevent a beating? Do those women reach for information on a retailer’s shelf about abused victim’s legal rights, or counseling, or finding courage in the midst of pain?

How many victims of human trafficking find freedom by asking their captor to buy them a book about overcoming trust issues or how to escape an inappropriate relationship?

How many addictions were resolved by forcing the sufferer to read a book about drug abuse?

How many marriages were saved because a woman shoved a counseling book into her husband’s face? How many relationships survived because a man insisted his wife read books about how to cook, clean, child care, etc?

I think you get the picture. It’s unlikely any of the above examples found solace, peace, answers, escape, or courage in a nonfiction book because they were either too frightened to be found reading it, or they simply weren’t interested. But that victim could read a novel about abuse, human trafficking, an addiction, or a failing marriage and learn how someone changed and grew into a better person. A novel provides hope and inspires the reader to make needed changes.Firewall copy

A novel is a non-threatening environment that offers sound solutions to real problems. The abuser, the captor, the addicted person, or the unfaithful spouse will not feel exposed when their victims engage in a novel. The writer plants the seeds of change and subtlety challengers the reader to grow beyond her own world.

If the suggestion of using story to change dire circumstances sounds familiar, then you’ve read your Bible. Jesus used stories to convict, teach, and comfort the people to whom He ministered. He orchestrated a means of entertainment through culture to reach the people of His day. Story still meets a psychological or spiritual need in 2014, and I believe story will be a means of helping people until this earth ceases to spin.

I challenge the novelist to explore the passions of her theme and premise. Don’t be afraid to tackle the tough issues with grace and truth within the pages of an excellent story.

 

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Comments

  1. henrymclaughlin says:

    DiAnn,
    Thank you for saying this so well. There is definitely a role for fiction to minister to and educate people as well as to entertain. As you so wisely point out, fiction may reach people nonfiction never could or would.
    Thank you.

  2. Dora Wagner says:

    Many of the truths, which God has revealed to me have been through novels, as well as the Bible. I find that God can speak through any medium He chooses. Please continue to use the gifts He has given you to reach those that He sends.

  3. My answer is because I can’t write non-fiction. God gave me the gift of writing fiction.

  4. Well said, DiAnn. If the Lord used fiction to teach and uplift, I don’t need to apologize for doing the same. Story is often more palatable to readers than overt lessons, as you said, which is why non-fiction authors are encouraged to use fiction techniques to engage their readers as well.

  5. Great blog, DiAnn. I know so many people who will read a fiction book, but won’t touch a Bible or nonfiction help book. I love sharing God’s truth in my stories in a way that can reach out to people. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thank you, DiAnn, for a timely word that will encourage me to keep writing. I know of several topics I long to tackle in a round about way through fiction. Stories can inspire where a sermon may have failed to.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

  7. Love this article! Like you, I encounter those who turn up their noses at fiction … hey, I used to be one of those! LOL!!

    An atheist friend of an acquaintance read my novel, In the Shadow of the Sun King, and remarked, “Maybe there is something to this God-stuff after all.” She would never have read a Christian book. May the Holy Spirit continue to draw that young woman.

    Blessings, dear friend!
    Golden

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