November 10, 2013
Our Christian Heritage Inspires Story by Sharon Espeseth
A parable, according to Gage Canadian Dictionary, is a short, simple story used to teach some truth or moral lesson." The lexicon goes on to refer to the parables of Jesus as one example of a parable. Christ's stories are short and pointed, but not, in my opinion, always easy to grasp. Some readers even wonder if the parables were used to hide the truth.
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus begins his story with "Listen!" He then reminds us how the seed, or his words, might be picked up by birds, fall on rocky soil, be scorched by mid-day sun, choked out by thorns, or fall on fertile soil. Christ ends by saying, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Jesus knows that not all of us will listen with the right heart. Not all of us will learn the lessons he gives. Not all of us will make the changes in our lives that true listening requires.
I love Christ's stories, although I admit that The Prodigal Son tests my sense of fairness, when really I know it demonstrates the Father's unconditional love. I enjoy reading fiction in general, including the good writing of Christians like Francine Rivers, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, John Grisham and lesser known works that are well-written by our own crew at InScribe. As much as I appreciate a novel by Marcia Laycock or Linda Hall, when it comes to writing fiction, I am out of my comfort zone. Either I have no imagination or I just don't know where to begin.
Instead I lean toward creative non-fiction. This genre uses fictional methods, like imagery, figures of speech, and dialogue to help readers feel like they are observing the action or situation from a front-row seat. I try to write so my readers can feel for my characters--love them or hate them, empathize with my characters, or watch my characters grow in their personal lives.
I want my memoirs, devotionals, and essays to ring true, just as fiction must ring true to life. For me to write fiction, I would have to try something like historical fiction. Francine Rivers for me is one of the best in this field. Naturally, I wouldn't start at her level, and I would need something real to get me started. This could be a newspaper article, a real incident, a story my great uncle told, or. . .
At this point I'm stuck, and this is not fiction! I still feel called to continue the non-fiction writing that comes more naturally for me, but to do it more faithfully and more skillfully by writing more regularly. I will occasionally try a writing exercise that is fiction-oriented and I will keep an open mind. I will read fiction, because I enjoy it and because I can learn about writing through fiction. But until I feel God encouraging me in this direction, I will leave fiction writing to the rest of you.
Prayer: May God continue to direct and inspire us in our writing and use our words to bless, comfort, and help others.