The Very Bottom-Line Basics of Writing Christian Nonfiction
If you’re writing Christian nonfiction, you have nothing to fear on this site or from this service.
You may or may not remember back in the first half of the year when Innovative Editing covered Christian fiction. Some – perhaps even much – of those write-ups were less than flattering, filled with:
“Fairly harsh criticism” concerning Christian fiction
Admissions of not being able to stand most Christian fiction books
Charges that Christian fiction doesn’t often reflect well on the Christian faith it’s supposed to be based on.
And that was just in the writing Definition alone. The title of that week’s Writing Challenge post was, “Why Is Christian Fiction So Bad?”
For the record, none of that was meant to discourage Christian fiction writers. It was, believe it or not, meant to encourage them to better their genre. Because the genre needs a lot of bettering.
And this all coming from a Christian fiction writer herself.
But Innovative Editing isn’t prepared to dole out such admittedly harsh constructive criticism to Christian nonfiction writers. They don't overwhelmingly suffer from any particular problem like Christian fiction’s general insipidity.
That’s not to say individual books within the genre can’t suffer from a wide range of issues. But those are discussions better left to upcoming posts. For now, let’s just tackle our Christian nonfiction writing Definition…
While there is the subset of Christian nonfiction that focuses on evangelizing to those who don’t believe in the Christian God, the majority of books in this genre are meant for readers who already practice the Christian faith.
It is always Bible-based, either directly quoting Scripture or centered around it somehow. And it’s always supposed to encourage people to delve more deeply into the Christian faith through example or by considering it from a different angle.
Common approaches to writing Christian nonfiction include:
Bible study guides (which we’ll be covering exclusively next week)
Explorations of God’s character
Inspirational memoirs of how good God is
Bible-based studies of dealing with different phases people tend to go through or emotions we tend to experience.
Current best-sellers include Rachel Hollis’ Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be. Quite the lengthy subtitle there, huh?
There’s also Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff, and Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.
It seems safe to say that first book by Rachel Hollis falls into the inspirational side of the Christian nonfiction genre – a call for women to see themselves through God’s eyes instead of the world’s.
Bob Goff’s likely fits the Christian memoir subset. And I don’t have to guess at all about Jesus Calling, which I own. It's a beautiful, bite-sized devotional that's perfect to read with your morning coffee or tea.
Considering the range displayed within just those three best-sellers, this begs a quick comparison with the creative writing side of Christian literature…
Christian fiction can combine with just about any other fiction category under the sun. Except for erotica. That one’s probably off-limits.
In the same way, if you’re writing Christian nonfiction, keep in mind what cross-genre it’s going to fit into. Is it an autobiography or biography? A dieting book? A parenting how-to? A history? Scientific commentary or exploration?
There’s plenty of room to run in this very broad genre. Just as long as it ultimately points back to God.