By Kariss Lynch
Authentic. That’s ultimately what we want, right? We want a story that moves us, motivates us, makes us forget our troubles for a few hours, that makes us laugh or cry or jump, that leaves us still thinking, still wondering days later. We want a story that rings so true and raw in our own mind and heart that we can’t shake it. We keep coming back for more. And that small part of our brain and our heart is changed a bit because we just read something pure.
Pure stories of high quality are becoming harder to come by. As our culture changes, we are facing an ever-increasing challenge of how to engage our audience while writing something that invites new folks to join the fold. General market books continue to challenge the status quo on romantic physical relationships, language, and suspense. Stories grow darker, love equates to sex, and marriage, well, we’ve redefined that, too.
So how do we respond? How do we continue to write stories that are authentic, that draw people in, that leave them wanting more?
The oversimplified answer is we make sure we are accurately reflecting the One who gave us the gift of writing in the first place. Does that mean we include Bible verses in every book or have a character that comes to know Christ? Not necessarily. The beautiful part of reflecting is that we get to capture the character and ways of Christ, and that bleeds through whether our message is overt or not. Lewis and Tolkien are classic examples of this concept. They wrote stories that engaged and changed generations. But they still made their stories a reflection of the One they served. I am consistently encouraged by their example.
No matter if we write ABA or CBA fiction or bleed into both, we have the unique opportunity as image bearers of Christ to call our readers to something greater through the message. In a world seeking answers and satisfaction in things other than Christ, we get to give them a story that might, in some small way, shine the light that points to Him. We get to be His reflection, a mirror of His character and picture of His love (something I particularly enjoy as a romance writer). If He has set eternity in the hearts of man and makes Himself known to us, then we are only the avenue and our words the conduit.
In a changing world, it is even more important that we lock arms together as believers, as writers, and let His light shine through us and reflect in our words, in the way we respond to readers, and in the way we interact with one another. I don’t know about you, but that idea excites me. It’s an adventure and a story in and of itself just waiting to unfold. May our stories ultimately reflect the greatest story ever told as we call readers to something greater, to become image bearers and reflections of Christ.
Kariss Lynch writes contemporary fiction about characters with big dreams, hearts for adventure, and enduring hope. Shadowed, her second book in the Heart of a Warrior series, released in March. In her free time, she spends time with loved ones, explores the great outdoors, and tries not to plot five stories at once. Connect with her at karisslynch.com.