Why Write Fiction?

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Christian fiction writers often hear these questions:

  • “Why write fiction when you could be creating 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.”
  • “Isn’t nonfiction how people learn how to live life to its fullest and better themselves?”

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 I’m not ashamed of my purpose. After years of following my passion for writing story, I’ve learned to term the individual questioning my life’s work as a “low information reader.” They mean well, don’t they? Not necessarily.

How many abused women have purchased books about how to prevent a beating? Did those women reach for information on a retailer’s shelf about abused victim’s legal rights, counseling, or finding courage amid pain?

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

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

How many marriages have been saved because a woman shoved a counseling book into her husband’s face?

How many relationships have survived because a man insisted his wife read books about how to cook, clean, childcare, 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 seek a better life. 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 are engaged in reading a novel. The writer plants the seeds of change and subtlety challenges the reader to grow beyond their world.

If the suggestion of using story to encourage a better life sounds familiar, then you’ve read your Bible. Jesus used stories to convict, teach, and comfort the people to whom He ministered. He orchestrated teachable moments relative to the culture of His day while entertaining the listeners. I believe story will be a means of helping people until this present earth ceases to exist.

I challenge those who love story to explore the themes in characters’ lives. Within the pages of an exceptional story, a reader finds grace and truth.

What issues have you seen addressed in novels? What would you like to see?