Monday, March 2, 2015

Inspirationals: Don't Force The Message

This Sunday I was sitting in our Bible Study at church as we were focusing on our studies for Lent. Now let me first state, I have not, nor will I ever likely enjoy working with those devotionals many of the churches use for their studies. It was actually this grumbling I had running through my head that got me thinking about the topic for today.

The problem with these devotionals is simple. The editors of these collections are trying too hard to
get their message across. They force the issue. They take passages from the Bible that are pretty random and pretty general, and then, often through a manipulation of words and phrases, try to turn the passage into something much larger. For me, it is just this reason that I turn away so many inspirational romances. The authors are trying too hard to force the "message" and "the word" down my throat.

Let me first state that I do believe writing inspirational romance is pretty tough. There are a ton of restrictions put on the author based on the publisher's guidelines as well as the audience buying the books. But there is also the issue of balance. Somehow the author has keep the romance as the central story arc, and yet, at the same time, weave in that inspirational message for the reader as well. Remember, it is the romance and use of "faith" that brings the characters together, and, in many cases, bringing one of the characters "back into the light." This is simply a tough balance.

I am working with one of my authors on just such a struggles. We are constantly having to go back and find a way to "back off of the preaching." The goal is simple. We want to see the characters with the faith demonstrating that behavior and thought that the other characters might be lacking. We want to see through action, and not so much talk, a transformation and teaching moment about faith.

Whenever I speak of inspirationals, I always return to one of my favorite authors from the Bible - Paul. He frequently spoke about the concept of "justification by faith" and not by "works". In essence the ideas was not so much about telling people you were a person of faith. It wasn't about going to church so many days, or following certain rituals. It was living in a life of faith and those "actions would just follow." Gal 3:11: "The law will not justify anyone in the sight of God, because we are told: "the righteous man finds life through faith.."

For those inspirational romances, the relationship will be found through faith.

Just some Lenten thoughts mixed in with some publishing this Monday morning.

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