The Writing Process: Finding Ideas

The next step in the writing process is finding ideas. I’ve already talked about inspiration in an early post, so we now go to one of the best bits of writing: brainstorming!

Right, how do we brainstorm? Well, this is what I like to call, chaos writing. Brainstorming isn’t only just sitting in your chair, staring off into the distance, waiting for an idea to float into your head and call you up. It’s pouring out whatever comes into your mind, no matter how crazy it may sound.

When brainstorming, you aren’t focusing on anything in particular, so the Lord is free to speak and give you ideas. The only thing required to do when brainstorming is write, it’s simple as that. It doesn’t matter how crazy it sounds, put it on the paper. The Lord will reveal an idea somewhere in that chaotic mess.

After you get an idea of what you might like to write about, you’ll then move on to brainstorming the parts of the novel. These parts are: Characters, Plot, Theme, and Setting.

For each one, provide a brief description, but don’t go into details, that will come later on. For now, get an outline down.

So for characters, here’s an example: imagine a man in his late thirties, we’ll call him Tom, who works in a discount store, and he’s slowly becoming deaf. Now he can’t hear the instructions given to him. As you can imagine, there’s a million possibilities for a novel right there in that single character.

Now here’s an example of the plot, still following Tom’s story: He soon becomes completely deaf, and his small income can’t provide him a hearing aid, so he tries to earn money somewhere else to meet his needs. Already, more ideas have just come up, and now a full story should be coming into focus. It’s certainly giving me ideas ๐Ÿ™‚

Right, so theme. Theme is what your story is about. What you novel is communicating to the reader. What it’s trying to say. So the theme in Tom’s story would be the difficulty of living in our world with a limiting disability. Now even more ideas are coming in, and if you’re getting excited, too bad, because Tom’s mine ๐Ÿ˜€ No, feel free to use him, he’s my gift to you, my readers. Unless you have a better character!

For setting, what I do is create my own town from scratch, but it’s all up to you. For example, in my novel, the Restoring, the characters all live in a town called Coldgrove. The name is pretty self descriptive. It’s set in a freezing town raining with snow and cluttered with dead trees. I wanted the town to reflect the theme, so I created a place that reflected the condition of death. But if creating your own town is not for you, setting your story in a real city, like New York, is the next best thing. But just make sure it’s accurate, like the names of the streets and suburbs. You don’t want readers thinking you know nothing about your setting.

Once you have all your ideas down, and you have the one you’re excited about, it’s time to put them all together! Once this happens, it truly is a magical time. When I find theย idea, it rattles around in my mind, and excitement just bubbles. Once it keeps you up at night, you’ve found your idea.

For people just trying to get through life, and don’t have writing in mind, don’t worry. God knows the plot and theme of your story. It’s what all our lives are about: Redemption.

God Bless. I hope this helps.

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The Writing Process: Introduction

Well here we go, the beginning of the series on the writing process. In this series I will give you all you need to know on how to write a novel. But non-writers, before you stop reading this, this series will also explore how we write the stories in our own lives. In other words, I’m going to take the process, not just on paper and a computer, but off of it as well.

This introduction will explore following God’s calling for your life. If God calls you to write, don’t hesitate, if He calls you to serve, don’t wait. Don’t wait for that opportune moment to serve the Lord, when He calls, do it.

The one thing you can’t do when stepping out into your calling is to leave the Lord behind. If He’s not guiding you by your side, you might as well forget about everything you have planned. When writing a novel, if God isn’t leading, don’t bother.

When you follow your calling, do it all to your best abilities, and don’t get lazy. If you decide to skip a session because you just don’t feel like it, or you’re too tired, you’re not only letting yourself down, but also the Lord. Finding time to write, or serve, shouldn’t be a problem if God is in control. I know a lot of writers say that they just can’t fine the time, either because of family duties, work, or other things. If you truly want to write, you will find the time, even if it’s early in the morning, or late at night. If you truly want to serve God in whatever way, there will be time. Don’t let the excuse stop you, because if you’re honest, you’re probably doing a lot of things that don’t need to be done (watching TV anyone?).

Writing is a sacrifice, as with anything God calls you to do.

So, a lot of people want to write, but there are few who actually do, and even fewer who stick to the end.

God Bless.

Where’s the Talent Pt.2 Music

I thought I’d continue on the subject of talent in the creative industry, but this time I’m going to look at music, particularly Christian music.

Every Christian knows CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) and every Christian knows how big it is. Most love it, and that’s a great thing ๐Ÿ™‚ Some hate it, is that a bad thing? Sadly, I’m one of those people who don’t particularly like the CCM Industry. That’s not to say I hate it, I absolutely love some of the stuff CCM puts out, but the majority of it is, what I call, tasteless.

You might not like what I’m about to say, but a lot of Christian music I hear on the radio isn’t very good. It’s dry and uncreative and leaves a bland taste in my mouth. After a week a new album becomes stale. A lot of Praise and Worship does that to me as well, especially live worship. When I listen to it I can’t help but agree with unbelievers when they say it’s boring.

So, Lucas, you’re saying we should listen to secular music? No, not without discretion. A lot of secular stuff, especially secular rock, is not edifying to the body of Christ. Most of it deals with how bad the world is and how only worldly things, including sin, can satisfy us. But with discretion, you can find some diamonds. I love some of Coldplay’s stuff, the same goes for Matchbox 20 and the Fray, and we can’t forget U2! But secular music is not what I listen to, only look at every now and again.

So, what Christian music do I like?

That’s a tough one, because I like a lot, outside the CCM market. I love everything from folk and worship, to hard rock and metal. Artists like All Sons and Daughters, Andrew Peterson, Flyleaf, Thousand Foot Krutch,ย The Ember Days, and NEEDTOBREATHE all aren’t considered CCM, and are never played on the radio, which is a devastating thing. It’s a shame most of the truly creative artists are under the radar and never heard of. If I brought to you every artist I love, I guarantee you won’t know any of them. That’s not an insult to your musical knowledge, because I myself only found them through searching.

Something I also want to point at is Christian metal, since a lot of people are against it, and it makes me wonder, why? I’ve never heard anything as powerful as some of the Christian metal songs, and it makes me wonder why so many Christians are against it. Not to mention the amount of creativity I see in it. If you could give me something against Christian metal, please comment, because I haven’t seen any Scripture that backs the rock critic’s claims yet.

Right, back on subject. Where’s the talent? One of my friends knows the issue of making music for money quite well, and I believe that is one of the reasons. Artists are so obsessed with releasing number one singles and getting a huge fan base that they will water down their messages to get them. Yes, CCM is watered down! Where’s the Word? Where’s theย power of the Spirit? Most of all, where’s the conviction?

An artist shouldn’t be making music for money, nor to get a big fan base, but to glorify God! And that also goes to the Christian authors as well. Don’t write to become the next New York Times Bestseller, but for the glory of God, and for winning souls for the kingdom.

So, where’s the talent? It’s there, and there’re still artists and authors who have it, but we’re all settling for mediocrity.

So these are my views on the matter of talent in the music industry, and if you disagree that’s perfectly fine, because I know a lot of people who love CCM. The issue of talent is my own opinion, and I’m not asking anyone to change their tastes ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s a few articles on the subject of metal by a fellow blogger if you’re interested in knowing more.

Christianrock123blogspot.com.au/2011/08critcisms-of-christian-rock-part-1.

Christianrock123blogspot.com.au/2011/08/criticisms-of-christian-rock-part-2

God Bless.

 

T.L. Hines, Waking Lazarus, Review

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T.L. Hines is a very unknown author in the Christian fiction world, yet I can’t see why. I just finished his debut novel, Waking Lazarus, and I have to say, what a novel!

The story is about a man named Jude Allman, who has died three times, and each time has risen back to life. He can’t figure out the reason for this, and soon he ends up changing his identity and becomes a janitor to avoid the press who wants to use him for their own healing.

Soon he gets visited by a girl named Kristina, claiming that he’s something special and has been called by the Lord. Since Jude wasn’t a Christian, it was hard to accept this so he wrote her off as just another fan trying to get healing.

But soon he begins to get visions and he tastes copper just before someone dies. It begins with a guy who gets run over, then a nurse who was about to commit suicide. The visions get creepier as the story progresses, and soon he finds himself rescuing two children from a child kidnapper.

It’s then where things get scary. Jude, the Chief of police, Odum, and Jude’s partner, Rachel, embark on the most dangerous mission of their lives.

The twists in the end will leave you shocked, and they were definitely something I didn’t see coming!

Waking Lazarus is a brilliant thriller/horror novel about God’s perseverance in our lives. It shows that nothing can stop His plans, not even death, as seen when Jude gets hit by lightening, drowns in freezing water, and freezes inside a car.

The content is pretty soft for a novel of this kind. It does get violent, but nothing a young teenager couldn’t handle. Jude dies several times, and gets chased by a man with an ax. Children are seen being held captive in cages, one is chained to a bed and several are stuffed in bags while unconscious, a woman gets shot in the head, and a car falls off a cliff.

I highly recommend Waking Lazarus by T. L. Hines for fans of thriller and horror in the same vein as Peretti and Dekker. And other than a few scenes of violence, there is nothing else you need to worry about,so it’s quite clean. I’d recommend twelve and over, but I doubt they would understand what’s happening; even I didn’t get it at times, and I found a few scenes to be a bit strange.

But overall, Waking Lazarus is a fine testament to God’s faithfulness.

4.5/5

God Bless!

The Genres: Horror

For the final in the series of the different types of genres I’ll be talking about one of my favourites (out of the many I have): horror. I’ve talked about horror before, but I want to focus on how to write one, and why we should write one.

So, first of all, what is horror? Simple, the scary and grotesque. Horror is meant to exploit your fears and put them in the real world. But horror isn’t just related to the supernatural; horror can also be found in every other genre, to some extent. For example, in a romance, the horror would be discovering that your wife is having an affair, or in a crime, the horror would be that the body found was that of your brother.

Horror is found everywhere, even in every day life. It keeps us aware, and most of all, it keeps us looking to God. Why? I’ll get to that in a minute.

So, how do we write horror, and why would we want to scare someone? Well, what does a mother do when her child disobeys? She smacks them, ย and I know when children get faced with the spoon, they freeze and stop what they’re doing right there!

We scare people to keep them out of sin. No, not all horror authors write to scare people from sin, but as Christians, that’s the reason we write horror stories.

Okay, how would we scare someone? When writing horror, think of what you’re afraid of, then put a face to it. If you’re afraid of monsters, create the scariest one you can think of. If people aren’t scared by your novels, it would just be like a soft smack from the spoon that only lasts a day or two because the kid realizes, “it’s not that bad.”

Horror is the genre of evangelism. People need to fear the consequences of sin, and that’s the goal I’m aiming for in my newest novel.

Alright, now to the aforementioned question. How does horror keep us aware and looking to God? Let me answer by asking you what you’re afraid of, and I mean truly afraid of. Be honest.

What’s the biggest fear in someone’s life? The unknown. The unknown is what scares us. The very question of what will tomorrow bring sends chills down your spine, doesn’t it? What if you suddenly lost your job? What if a storm wrecks your home? What if you lost everything?

Scary questions, aren’t they? Yet they could all happen.

Horror should keep you on your feet and on your face before the Lord daily. If it doesn’t do that, it fails as a Christian novel.

One of the best horror novels I have ever read is the Oath, by Frank Peretti. It captures everything that a Christian horror novel should be, and most importantly, it shows the consequences of sin, and it does so in a very frightening way.

So, to end on horror and the genre series, remember that we’re all sinners, and no one is less worthy of death than another. The real monster we should be exposing is the person standing in the mirror.

God Bless.

The Genres: History

The next genre I want to look at is Historical fiction. While it’s not directly called a genre, the majority of novels based in past times is larger than any other, especially Christian fiction.

History is more of an adjective than a genre, since a genre is classified by the content of the book and the feelings it conveys. For example, if a book is action, but it’s set in the past, like in Roman times, then it would be called an historical action, or an historical romance if your novel is a romance story.

I’ve read quite a few good historical novels. Books like the Robeย andย Twice Freed are brilliant historical fiction novels based on Biblical times. What’s so great about these books is that they give a story between the lines of the Bible. Even though they may be fiction, historic novels just feel more authentic, more realistic, especially if set in Biblical times.

When writing Christian historical fiction set in Biblical times, we must make sure that it lines up with the Word of God, and shouldn’t deter from it. Your novel shouldn’t be a substitute to the Bible, it should magnify it.

Historical fiction is probably the most fascinating of them all, and should also be the most revered. In the writing process there’s one thing that often gets overlooked: Research. All novels require some degree of research, but historical fiction requires more than any other.

I myself have a desire to write a Biblical historic novel one day set in the times of Jesus. It will take a lot of research, because if it’s inaccurate, it will weaken the story, even if the plot is strong. What publishers look for in, not only historical, but also in every other genre, is accuracy. If your novel falters, readers will know. It will show that you didn’t put your all into your book, and it will show that you don’t know a lot about what you’re writing, and that will set you down as a writer.

So when writing historical fiction, or any kind of fiction, make sure you know what you’re doing and saying. The last thing you want is to look cheap, especially is you’re writing for God’s glory. If we’re to be ambassadors for Christ, we need to show our best.

God Bless.

 

The Genres: Suspense/Thrillers, and the notion of being preachy

Suspense and thriller novels are another couple that often live in the same category. Suspense is the lesser of the two, while the thriller is more intense in its delivery.

First of all, suspense is more character driven than plot driven. While both have action and a driving plot, the thrillers dive into it while the suspense dwindles in the shallow end.

The two are very broad so it’s difficult to define them. Instead I’m going to look at how each one incorporates into other genres, and how they give the story power.

Suspense can be in every genre, as can thrillers. Suspense can be found in romance and in mysteries, while crime and horror contain the thrill. You know what it is when you feel it. Suspense leaves you on the edge, thrillers make your heart race.

As a Christian writer you should aim to make your book as exciting as possible. You don’t want people to read your novel and only get half-way, or worse, because they are simply too bored by your preaching. Yes, I said preaching. Should we preach in our novels? Yes, but not in the way you’re thinking.

I’ve talked about Christian non-fiction before, and unfortunately they bore me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read some great ones, but I never go out of my way to read them. Because there’s no experience and no emotion felt. Like I’ve said before though, they are necessary and shouldn’t be discarded. But if you’re looking to truly preach something, fiction is the way to go.

So, preaching. I know this may sound controversial, but Christian author’s shouldn’t be preachy in their novels. They need to let the story preach, and not force a sermon into the readers ears. They will likely reject your book and give it away.

That’s how author Frank Peretti began his career. When he preached to the youth, he would turn his sermons into stories, and each week he would add something to the story. Each week the kids couldn’t wait to hear more! That’s how church should be. That’s how we need to preach to the youth. I for one have experienced how boring a sermon can be. In most churches my mind wanders, but when the pastor tells a story, he has my attention, even if the story isn’t very good. Why? Because of the thrill of experience. Frank mastered the art of suspense when he would tell part of his story, than leave the other part for next week. I know that would kill me ๐Ÿ™‚

So, when writing thrillers and suspense novels, do exactly as the genre title says. Thrill and leave your readers in suspense. Learning comes from experiencing.

God Bless.

The Genres: Mystery/Crime

The next genre I want to talk about is mystery and crime. First off, mysteries.

We all know what a mystery is, so I’m not going to go down that path, but I will say that mysteries are probably the most difficult to write, simply because the writer must avoid predictability. If your reader predicts the ending, and I don’t mean guess, the reader probably read spoilers, or your book isn’t very good.

The most difficult thing for any novel writer to do is insert mystery, yet leave clever, but slightly obscured, clues lying around for the reader to figure out. That’s one of the reasons reading is so fun!

Also the mystery can’t fall flat. If you want to impact readers, don’t leave them with a dry twist. You don’t want them to say something like, “Is THAT it?” or, “I read five hundred pages for that?” Make it a shock, give it the WOW factor. What that is, I can’t say, you must find it yourself.

Another thing I want to talk about in mysteries is probably not directly related to the genre, but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t make your story so much of a mystery that the reader can’t see God in it at all. I believe, and love, allegories and metaphors when done right, but if I can’t see God in them, what’s the point? If an unbeliever reads it without the slightest clue of God the whole way through, then he gets to the end to find that you were talking about God all along, he will feel cheated and feel forced to swallow a religion pill, what I like to call it ๐Ÿ™‚ So avoid vagueness in your writing, and make sure the mystery is gripping and worthwhile, even past the last page!

Now on to Crime. Crime isn’t a genre I read a lot of since it’s the most violent. Ted Dekker does them the best, but I wouldn’t recommend them to younger readers. I wouldn’t recommend any crime novels to younger readers, and I mostly avoid them myself.

Why crime is the most violent is because it explores the worst things people can possibly do. Crime, by definition, is things people do that are against the law, and since the law is righteous and holy, everything that is against it isn’t.

There are Christian crime writers, and it shouldn’t be written off as unnecessary. We should examine the sinfulness of people’s ways, and show how evil and of a need of a saviour they are. I’ve explored violence in my previous post, How Far Should We Go? So I won’t repeat it. The standards a Christian writer should follow when writing a crime novel are pretty straight forward: don’t make it so violent that your Christian reader is disgusted, because we like to stay away from that stuff ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t spread the message that the person committing the crime is only doing it because he/she got brought up in a bad home and was abused, or his environment encourages him to do those things. It’s not the environment or the way he was raised, it’s his sinful heart, because he can choose to walk away. Don’t make it look, “Not that bad,” as well, because you don’t want to give readers ideas that they can do it if they only abstain from this or that.

So, when writing crime, show the sinfulness of man, and the power of the love of Jesus, because He loves everyone of every race and every kind.

As a side note, there’s a song by a Christian band called Showbread called, A man with a hammer. Yes, strange title, but it is one of the most touching, beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. It goes through four stories of explicit content: a man who decides to kill his family, a woman who commits adultery, an abortion, and a rape. In the end, the singer says “Every woman, every man, all ransomed by your love for them.” And in the chorus, “Oh the thought of what sets a person free, before I could love you back, you gave your love to me. Now I see my sentencing reprieved. You offer me your everything, even though I am still me.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v+JIk1nJKnfO0ย Here’s the link. Probably not suitable for little ones ๐Ÿ™‚

God Bless!”

The Genres: Romance

Today I want to start a series on the different genres of fiction. It’s sort of a prelude to a series coming up on the writing process which I will be posting shortly. This prelude series deals with the different genres of fiction so you have a more in- depth look at what genre you would like to base your novel on.

I’ll begin with one of the most popular: Romance.

Romance is huge in the Christian fiction world, particularly Amish romance. I myself have a soft spot for romance, but more so in the contemporary realm. I’ll go through the standards every Christian romance novel must include:

1. It must be biblically accurate; meaning no acceptance of adultery, divorce or any other sexual sin.

2. It must present a mutual view. It must show man and woman as one, and not only from a man/woman’s point of view, but from a ‘one flesh’ view.

3. It must support marriage between man and woman as stated in Genesis 2:22-25

4. It mustn’t be graphic.

So they are the outlines; the four corners to build your romance novel around.

When writing romance, the story must be focused on the love between a man and woman only. It can either be about a couple falling in love, or a couple struggling with their love, and most importantly the love must be centered around Christ. If Jesus is only a supporting role, you might as well be a secular writer.

I myself have very strict views when it comes to marriage. God has set a clear standard regarding marriage in His Word, and we must not compromise on this.

Your novel can support the idea of dating, including the struggles with regards to staying pure.

The love between husband and wife should reflect the love of Christ to the church, His bride, and His faithfulness to us.

If the story encourages, in any way, a man or woman already struggling in an unhappy marriage to consider divorce or to look down upon their partner as inadequate is also not appropriate.

So, in closing on this genre, make sure you show biblical morals in your stories, and make sure that Christ is the center of the relationship, because we are the center of His.

God Bless.

Where’s the Talent?

I want to begin this post by asking you what your favourite works of literature are. Are they classics, or modern fiction? I guarantee that over 90% of readers will say that it’s something by C.S.Lewis or Mark Twain or Charles Dickens. Why doesn’t anyone say that their favourite books are those by modern authors? Because there is no talent anymore.

Christian fiction has become quite dry over the years, and even Peretti’s Monster wasn’t that good, at least by his standards. The Christian fiction market has become dry, and there isn’t a whole lot of talent anymore. The only great piece of modern literature I have read in the last few years is the Shack.

So where has the talent gone? I’ll give another question to clarify: Where has the imagination gone? I was at the Christian book store Koorong yesterday and I decided to browse through the fiction aisle. I saw a lot of Amish novels cluttering most of the wall, leaving only a small, not even metre wide gap for the suspense/thrillers. Why are so many Christian authors writing Amish stories? Yes, there are Amish people, but it’s a small percentage in the modern world. Shouldn’t we be writing fiction that the modern world can relate to? Not everyone relates to the Amish way of life.

So back to the subject on hand. What has happened to all theย good Christian fiction? I long for something that reflects true biblical morals, not just something that’s happy-sappy, though there’s nothing wrong with that ๐Ÿ™‚ Why are authors writing the same novel over and over again? Maybe they are in it for the money? Maybe they write what appeals to their audiences, but not to them. I’ll write another post on the topic, but if a writer writes something that he/she knows sells well, but something that he/she isn’t connected to, it won’t work. If what you’re writing isn’t a part of you, it won’t work, and your readers will feel the same way because it will feel forced.

That’s one of the reasons the talent in the writing world is falling. Another reason could be that they just aren’t gifted or called in that area. Not everyone is called to write. Some writers want to do it without consent from God, so it ends up being uninspired and formulaic

And then there are some who just don’t have a clue ๐Ÿ™‚ But in all seriousness, you need to know how to form a story, and some just don’t know how. A reason could be that it’s just not something they want to do anyway.

As Christians we need to do our best for God’s glory, not sorely for our own and others. “What you eat, what you say, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God!”

As a side not, Christian music doesn’t escape the dryness either. I’ll be writing on Christian music soon and I’ll expand on it a bit more.

So work at the gifts God has given you, and don’t fall pray to doing things half-heartedly and for your own glory. Neither is a sign of true talent.

God Bless.

Overcoming self-doubt

Have you ever looked to the ones you look up to and think, “I can never be as good as him/her?” Have you ever felt self-doubt in your writing? If you say no, you’re lying. Every writer feels that way, even when he’s made it big in the publishing world.

When I began I felt that it was an overwhelming task, and that it would end up in tatters. I used to write short stories on a computer program called Storybook Weaver. Here’s a picture.

Storybookweaver

 

It looks pretty childish, doesn’t it? It was, but I couldn’t have found a better beginning program! But each story I would write, I’d keep it to myself and make sure no one read it. Why? Because I thought no one would like it. I don’t have that program, nor the stories I wrote on it now, but it’s where my writing began.

So, how do we overcome the self-doubt all writers face? You reject it.

When you write something, don’t worry about what others think of it. If they think it’s horrible, great, ask them where you went wrong. If they think it’s great, they’re probably just trying to make you feel good about yourself. I’m glad for the criticism of my readers. They’ll make you a better writer, because when you begin, your first story will simply not be publishable. That’s not to say it can’t happen, but it’s rare.

I’m sorry if I’m being a bit cruel, but I want to warn you before you send in a horribly messy manuscript to an agent. If there’s spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and grammar mistakes, the publisher will reject you. A few might go by, but not if there’s one on every second page.

So my advice will be to take criticism from others positively, and reject criticism from yourself, because it will discourage you from ever writing a publishable novel.

The same concept applies to everyday life as well, not just in our fantasy worlds ๐Ÿ™‚ Wisdom comes with criticism. It won’t call you a bad writer, it will point out the errors so you can avoid being a bad writer, or a bad business man, or a bad blogger. It doesn’t matter what it is, accept criticism.

Now to people who criticize others. Don’t run them down, lift them up. Don’t just point out the wrong they’re doing, also point out the right.

Jesus sometimes gives us criticism, but He also lifts us up.

These are the words from an anointed prophesy one of my family members received. “You have disappointed me, but you’re the apple of my eye.”

God Bless.

 

Frank Peretti, The Visitation, Book and film review

The Visitation Novel Review

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Christian fiction legend, Frank Peretti. is an absolute master of the thriller/horror genre. With over twenty books under his belt, including children’s and young adult’s, he’s impacted the world with his tales of spiritual warfare. His fifth adult book, the Visitation is no exception. This book was also adapted into film so I’ll review both. First, the novel.

The Visitation is a complicated story, basically because it has so many characters it’s nearly impossible to keep up. The story is about a burned out minister named Travis Jordan whose wife died of cancer (Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler). It then goes on to this mysterious man who enters the town of Antioch. He performs miracles in the same vein as Jesus Christ. Eventually this man builds such a following that nearly the whole town believes he’s the messiah who’s come again in the flesh. All except Travis Jordan, the new minster, Kyle Sherman, and the former minster, Morgan Elliott. Eventually other’s join the action, but that’s not until later.

The story is two fold. Not only is it about a false Christ deceiving the town, but it’s also about Travis Jordan’s journey to becoming a minster. Over half of this 520 page book is a flashback going through Travis Jordan’s life from teenager to minister. He and his wife travel to every kind of pentecostal church imaginable, and just about every one is crazy.

The story has a lighter feel than his others, but the dark atmosphere is still there. Throughout the book Peretti makes fun of the pentecostal’s crazy ways, such as walking around yelling out in tongues, and their obsession with money. It’s pretty hilarious how they act sometimes. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at one point!

The flashback’s are a story in themselves. It goes from him finding a job, falling in love, then being dumped, then falling in love again, then getting married, then finding the best church to serve in….. It goes on for a very long time, and it will bore impatient readers quickly. I for one, was not bored with it at all! Who gets bored of romance? ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, as good as the flashback scenes were, he could’ve cut a good load out without deterring from the story.

Throughout the story of the false Christ, Peretti goes to warn about the dangers of following signs and wonders, which I mentioned in my last post. These signs lead to a big spiritual deception, and by the third half, things get pretty disturbing and scary. It was interesting to see how the church reacted to a messiah in the flesh, and it wasn’t pretty.

Content wise there’s nothing in the first two thirds you need to worry about. The first two thirds are really a drama, and the suspense doesn’t come in until the last third. That’s where it takes on the horror role, and all the violence is packed into that last half. It gets very disturbing at times, for example, there’s a story about a young boy being crucified to a fence, possessed people act crazy and start beating people, and demons are actually visible inside homes, so it gets very scary. At one scene a very young girl is murdered by a demon in a very gruesome manner. That is the worst scene in the book, but it’s only a fleeting moment.

Overall though, this is one of Peretti’s masterpieces! It’s written so well and it flows so smoothly that it feels like you’re actually there with the characters! Reading this it’s evident that Peretti is the king of Christian fiction!

5/5

The Visitation, film review.

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This film adaption of Peretti’s novel is hard to describe. At one point it sticks pretty close to the book in the essential story, on another it strays pretty far in details. Such as the death of Travis’ wife in the beginning. That’s the major change.

The film, to me, has much more of a darker tone than the book, and it’s not afraid to call itself a horror film. It’s a typical Christian film really: Bad quality, mediocre acting, and rushed story line. The characters are not how I pictured them in the book at all! The girl Travis marries in the end is a Christian in the book, but in the film she isn’t. That was a sad change.

Story wise it is an abridged version of the book, and leaves more out than it changes. The flashbacks are not even evident in this film, and I was very disappointed in that since the flashbacks contain some of the very best scenes from the book.

Content wise the film is rated M (Australian rating) and doesn’t really have anything objectionable in it. Violence is pretty minimum, there’s nothing sexual, there’s no language, which is a great change for this type of film. The objectionable stuff is in the tone of the film. It’s pretty scary, so it’s not suitable for twelve years and under. Young teenagers won’t have a problem. The possession scenes are poorly done as well, and are more comical than scary.

Overall this film was a disappointment, though not a complete failure. In the end the Bible is what saves, so it’s Christian message is pretty strong.

2.5/5

I must take note that this book and film are not for the unbeliever. They will think Christian’s are a bunch of crazies if they read or watch it. It’s obviously written for Christian’s alone and is not for evangelical use.

Anyway I highly recommend the Visitation by Frank Peretti in it’s novel form. Skip the film. It may not be the happiest story ever written, but it certainly opens eyes!

Signs from man, or God?

Hi readers, today I want to talk about taking action. Taking action in your writing career, and simply in anything God calls you to do. Now, you’ve heard the notion of believing until you have an answer, but I just want to go a little deeper in that. It’s very well saying that you’re believing for a sign from God, but why are we doing that in the first place?

Writers, are you sitting around waiting for a sign to fall from the sky saying that it’s God’s calling for your life? Is your excuse “I’m just waiting for the go ahead.” Hang on, the go ahead? What does that even mean? Do you get a special feeling inside of you? Does something appear that screams YES in your face?

Where do you look for the go ahead?

I honestly don’t think signs and wonders are what we should be looking for, though if they appear we should take notice and bring them before the Lord in prayer. But if you’re looking for them as the source of your leap of faith, that can really open a door to spiritual deception. The Bible warned about looking for signs and wonders and when we let them direct our lives.

So, where should we be looking? That’s simple. The biggest sign Jesus has given us is His Word! Did He give us His Word to say that there might be something that isn’t relatable to your unique problem? Or maybe He missed something, so to make up for it He’ll give you a sign from the heavens?

His Word is enough. The only signs we should be looking for is His prompting in us. When He gives us peace, that’s the sign to follow. A mature Christian will look to the Word and allow that to govern His choices. So if you want to write, ask yourself, “What am I going to write about? Does it fit within biblical standards? Does it glorify God, or does it glorify evil? Am I setting a biblical example or am I reflecting wrong morals that could lead potential readers down the wrong paths?” It’s as simple as that. If you want to get into this thing, look through the Word, ask yourself those questions and more, and look for the peace. Peace from God, not of your own desire. For me it’s pretty simple to distinguish between God given peace, and peace that comes from me. When it comes from me, there isn’t any! There’s always a doubt or nervousness that comes in.

So, stop looking for signs because the enemy can show them as well. Stop looking everywhere else except the Word. If you let signs lead you, and don’t question them, you’ll end up in a bad place.

Go out and live in the work God has called you to do, and that’s following Him, not signs and wonders.

God Bless.

Where’s the Love?

When you look around the world today, what do you see? The world has fallen lower and lower in its state of sin over the years, and now I doubt if humanity has any morals left to show. The news is constantly negative, violence and murders are a common happening, so much so that it isn’t shocking anymore. People walk past the homeless and don’t even share a glance. Wars rage and selfish ambitions run rampant. People are judging others by worth and value. Films and literature glorify violence, unmarried sex, and immorality.

Are people so desensitized that they’ll sit through a two hour movie just to see decapitations and torture? Like I said on a earlier post, people often mistake endless violence as a thrill. Violence is not “thrilling,” it’s boring, dull, and uninspired. Films like Saw and other torture porn films (that’s the new name going around for them) are a disgrace to the culture! Where’s the love?

Music doesn’t escape the immorality of today’s system as well. What’s the point in listening to music that tells you to commit suicide, or to murder someone? It’s sickening if you ask me. What about songs that show how hopeless the world is? To me they’re looking for something that only God can provide, and that’s true love. True love is not the romance you see in movies, it’s the sacrificial love that Jesus demonstrated on the cross. That’s true love. Everything we see in today’s culture goes against it.

I don’t listen to secular music, but I occasionally flip on the radio because they sometimes play Christian songs. They were playing a song by the Black Eyes Peas called Where is the Love. That is probably one of the only secular songs I absolutely love, and it’s message is so true, to believers and unbelievers alike.

The chorus goes “People live and people dying, children hurt and hear them crying, would you practice what you preach, or would you turn the other cheek. Father, Father, Father help us send some guidance from above, because people got me questioning where is the love.” There’s a scene in the video where a black man stands with a Bible in his hands on a busy street and shouts towards the sky. It’s truly a moving scene and it’s a song I’d definitely recommend hearing, though I don’t support the artist.

So writers, there is so much negative media in the world, I think it’s time we changed that. That’s what I’ve been saying all along, we must reflect God’s heart, His sacrificial love, in everything we do and say and create. Actions are more important than words.

Where’s the love? Only we can point them to the truth. The Cross. I still believe there’s still some hope left in the old world, lets bring it out.

God Bless.

Clean Fiction and Deception

What is clean fiction? Obviously you may think that clean fiction is fiction that has no violence or profanity or sex, right? Right. And dirty fiction is fiction that shows lots of violence and and language and sex, right? Right. That all is correct, one is evil, one is good, but I don’t think it’s as clear cut as we think.

I was reading this post from fellow Christian author Mike Duran, and he was speaking of Christian’s using clean fiction as “White Magic,” the opposite of black magic. He talked about this televangelist that said horror movies opens up a door for the devil to come in. Though I agree that most, if not all, secular horror is evil, it seems we only treat that genre as the only one that can open a door to the devil. Mike even went on to say that the notion that “clean fiction” is safer and better for us might actually deceive us and distance us from God! Why? Because we have this mind set that things without violence or language must be good, and therefore holy. We stop looking to the Word for discernment and begin to trust our own judgment. Mike also said that the desire to only read what is free of profanity and violence may itself be a spiritual deception.

The Bible says that Satan is disguised as an angel of light. So what does that mean? It means that he can be present in the most clean piece of fiction you can imagine. He doesn’t need obvious violence and profanity and sex to show his territory because he knows most Christians would stay away from it, so he subtly hides in the clean fiction where most of the time we miss him.

Christian’s shouldn’t discriminate what is right and wrong without direction from God’s Word because we usually get it wrong. My family and I watched this G-rated movie not long ago and we thought it was all innocent and “clean.” Well after a little more research on the movie I found that it actually supported occultic ideas and homosexuality! Demons were hiding in the most innocent places, and we didn’t even see them!

What I’m trying to say is that we shouldn’t judge any piece of film and fiction without the direction and discernment of God’s Word. Most of the best, most faith lifting movies I have ever seen are rated R (American rating, MA15+ Australian rating.) One example is the movie,ย The Book of Eli. The first time I saw that trailer I thought it was an evil, demonic film that glorified violence. Three years later it was on TV, so I decided to do some research and actually found out that it was about the Bible! It’s a Christian film about the power of God’s Word and walking by faith, and I thought it was demonic!

Same with the film the Conjuring. I first saw that trailer on TV and thought it was just another occult glorifying film. I later researched it and found out that it was actually about the power that God gives us to overcome the devil through His Word! It was even written by two Christians and targeted at the Christian audience! That film took my faith to a whole new level, and I now know that we have power in God’s name to overcome any obstacle the Lord puts in our paths.

Obviously I’m a sucker for a faith-filled horror story. They lift my faith and make me want to seek God and pray. I don’t care if the heroes are catholic, I look at what God is doing, not at whatย they are doing. In every film and book I read I ask, “Is God in this, and is He glorified and will it edify my walk with Him?” Obviously secular horror like Halloween or the Shining are not going to edify your walk with Christ, but films like the Conjuring, The Rite, or even some of the original Exorcist films will. They know what possession is and they know how to handle it in a way that warns unbelievers about the power of the devil, yet it never departs from the hope and love of God.

So, what about keeping your mind on things that are pure and holy and of a good report? Why would we watch something that doesn’t keep our minds on things that are of good report? That G-rated film didn’t make me dwell on a pure thought, but the R-rated one did. I’m not saying R-rated movies are good, most of them are not good to the heart and the mind and the spirit, but so is some G-rated material. I also want to say that I hate language and excessive violence, and if a graphic sex scene appears I will run out the room or turn the TV off. But for me the story they’re telling is more important because that’s what sticks with me the most; lots of adult content is only a hindrance.

So, stop judging a book by its cover and start reading your Bible. When you next time choose to watch or read something look to the Bible, and I bet you’ll be shocked at what you thought was right and wrong.

As a side note I encourage you to check out www.movieguide.org. They give a good review for each of the films I’ve listed, except for Halloween and the Shining ๐Ÿ™‚

‘Till next time God Bless!

If you have any further thoughts on the subject please feel free to comment.