September 21, 2012

InScribers Review- An Introduction to Christian Writing by Ethel Herr-Sulo Moorthy

When I started the Writers' group in San Diego two years ago, I took the suggestion of one of the women in my group and chose a book on writing as a guiding tool to use at our meetings. Because the gals in the group were mostly novice writers, and I hadn't led a writers' group before, I thought it was a great idea to follow a book.

 Luckily I didn't need to shop around to find a suitable book, for within my reach and at my eye level stood on my bookshelf a tall and glossy covered one with a perfect title- An Introduction to Christian Writing-An In -Depth Companion to the Complete Writing Experience. Little did I guess at that time that the book, which I purchased on some years back and had remained untouched until then would become a valuable teaching tool for my writers' group.

Although the author's name was not familiar to me then,  Ethel Herr had authored several books including Chosen Women of the Bible, Bible Study for Busy Women and the historical trilogy-The Seekers and had been a well known speaker at writers' conferences. It's said that when Herr's friends asked her to help them how to write, she tried to ask herself the question- What do I wish someone had taught me in the beginning? and wrote them down in a eleven-lesson course which later got published in 1983 with this title. " Destined to become a classic text for beginning writers," read a blurb on its back cover, and as it predicted the book had become an effective teaching guide not only for beginning writers, but also an excellent reference book for writers at  any level in the last 30 years.

What I like best about the book is the fact that before it gets into the technicality of the writing business, the author prepares the writer to see her/his work as an art of worship and ministry. In her own words, "We are God's manuscripts-eternal, unique, precious to our Creator. Each piece we write comprises, on our part, an act of worship offered to the God of the universe. From God's point of view, it functions as one more step in the process of producing His works of art in us-perfect, flawless reflectors of His image."

What an awesome perspective to have as Christian writers, when we set foot on this arena of writing and play with words, paint pictures and splash colorful reflection of His love and craft stories to relate and minister to our readers!

Out in the Writers' Market, you could find books on writing written by secular as well as Christian authors telling us how to write well and sell well. But this book,along with the funtion of schooling in the craft of writing, it help the writer to keep the focus straight and unhindered by market trends, it also stresses the importance of writing faithfully what we are called to write even if it's for the audience of One. Isn't that what's Christian writing is about? Probably that may be the reason the book has been sold successfully  for the last quarter century and had remained a favorite at writers' conferences.

The book is divided into two sections-The Textbook and the Appendices. The textbook consists of 11 two-part lessons.  In Part One of each lessons, the author addresses questions like- What is a Christian Writer? What are Christian Writers Opportunities? Am I Qualified to be a Writer? Can I Stick with it ? What are my responsibilities? How do I plan my work area and Equipment? How do I get ready to write?

In Part Two, Herr gets into the nuts and bolts of actual writing process and takes the writer by the hand and guide through steps to write effective sentences, strong paragraphs, do a market study, and to find ideas and craft personal experience stories. At the end of each lesson, she provides examples and assignments to motivate and keep the writing going. By working through these eleven lessons and assignments, the writer is well trained  to write, rewrite,  polish and submit a manuscript for publication

In The Appendices, the author includes  a glossary of Writer's Terms, Sample Articles,  Valuable Resources for Writers, Information about How to Organize a Writer's Group, Checklists for Critiquing , Turning Teaching/Speaking into Manuscripts, Writer's files and additional assignments. She ends the book by addressing the question,-Should I Write A Book?

Because the book was first published in 1983 and I hold its 2nd edition published in 1999, I need to admit that the book lacks the current social media networking information. If you are looking for help on blogging, twittering, Webinars, or launching your book online, this book may not be resourceful. But it's a great resource to both the beginning and the experience writer to keep it as reference book and as a teaching tool.

In Susan Titus Osborn's words-" An Introduction to Christian Writing is an excellent resource for the beginning or experienced writer. It thoroughly covers the different aspects of writing, and I have used it as an effective tool in both college courses and adult education classes."

" If you can afford only one writing book, this is the one to get." Les Stobbe, Writer, Editor and an Agent.


  1. Sulo, Thank you so much for sharing this book! I am going to ask our writing group leaders if they might like to look into this book for future meetings.

  2. Sulo, thanks for a thorough review and analysis of this book. It sounds like a great resource and I don't have it on my bookshelf yet :)

  3. Thanks Dawn and Ruth for your comments. I'm glad that you found my posting helpful in finding a good writing resource.

  4. Sulo, thank you so much for this great information. A good review. So glad you shared.

  5. Thanks for telling us about this book. It sounds wonderful

  6. Thanks Brenda and Tracy, I always appreciate your encouraging comments and support.

  7. Thanks Sulo for this introduction. We have recently started a writers' group in Lethbridge called "Write Clique."

    We like a sharing time--readings, suggestions, plans, of the members, but I also like to have some teaching time to keep us moving forward--don't want to stagnate in our own ignorance!

    This sounds like an ideal book for us to gain insight, even if we don't follow it in detail.


  8. Thanks for your comment Bryan. Hope you'll find the book helpful at your writers' group meetings.


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