Christian writing is done when writers use Christian themes and inculcate Christian worldviews in their writing.
As someone who helps Christian writers share their ideas or inspire others with their writing, there are some pitfalls I have observed. Here are five common errors current and aspiring writers of Christian works (fiction and nonfiction) should note.
- Verbosity: This is the practice of using too many words to express a point. Conciseness is a mark of good writing, even if the content is religious. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you must use many words to express the gravity of your message. Excess words hinder your message; it does not help it. Your effectiveness as a writer is in choosing the words which best connect with your audience.
2. Lack of originality: As a Christian writer, when you write about redemption or grace exactly the same way classic writers would, you are
not helping your development as a writer. The best thing to do is to find your own voice and writing style. Of course, you can learn from the wisdom of other writers, both past and contemporary. In fact, the Christian writer who seeks to be entirely original is heading down a dangerous path because they are more likely to spread heresies and unbiblical ideas. Nevertheless, there can (and should) be fresh expressions of biblical truths. You can bring a new perspective to a century-old discussion or create a new artistic form in proclaiming the gospel of redemption. Your exposition of a topic can penetrate depths not before reached, and that makes you unique.
3. Archaic expressions: I will be blunt at this point. Please ditch the KJV (King James Version) Bible for a modern translation. KJV was made in 1611, five centuries ago! The idioms and expressions that were fine then may no longer be clear to your readers. Get a modern and accurate translation. The NKJV (New King James Version) is at least an improvement, but there are others like NIV, ESV, NLT, NASB, etc. Also, some of these versions are more literal than others. However, there are issues about the respective translation methods adopted by some of these versions. But my point is you should use a contemporary version that will not disconnect you from those you are trying to reach.
4. Excessive quotation of scripture: Unless you are composing your own version of the Bible or one of its books, you do not need to have lengthy portions of the Bible quoted all over your book or article. But too many people fall into this category and I suspect people do this sometimes to beef up the volume of their book or to help the reader understand the point being made without having to go to the Bible. Aside from the copyright issues involved in quoting many Bible verses in your book or article (which is why many writers prefer using the KJV or a free translation), it is not a good publishing standard. Unless you are reviewing a book, you should not quote so many Bible texts in your work. Refer to the relevant Bible passage and quote only brief excerpts which are crucial in conveying your point. Believe me, if your writing is interesting enough, the reader will not mind looking up the longer passages in the Bible.
5. Poor sentence variation: This often stems from poor writing skills. Also, there is an assumption that complex sentence structures have a ‘holy’ aura about them. But by doing this, you are putting off your audience. Your writing should flow like music and you can achieve this by carefully balancing long and short sentences. Look at this sentence as an example, “Grace is not cheap. Grace cost so much. It cost God the very act of being nailed to a tree, in shame and in misery. Yet he did it. He did it for a world he loved too much to abandon.” With a good variation in your sentences, you can carry your audience along without losing them on the way.
Finally, writing is an art. In the hands of masters, it has swayed individuals and built civilisations. It is no surprise that God saw it fit to preserve His revelation in a book. We have a message to proclaim; we have truth and life to give to a world that is gasping for it. Yet, we can keep that world from receiving it through poor writing. Study prominent writers, learn the craft and then go extend His kingdom as wide as the wind and the internet will take your words.
‘Dayo is a Christian writer, an editor, and a passionate customer service advocate based in Lagos, Nigeria. His vision is seeing Africa transformed through the Christian worldview and he pursues this through a teaching and publishing website, The Christian Mind. Dayo is married to Omolade and they have one son.