Friday, July 29, 2016

Writing in Obedience: A Book Review

Writing in Obedience: A Primer for Christian Fiction Writers is all I expected and more. All I expected because the authors, Terry Burns and Linda W. Yezak are my former literary agent (before his retirement) and a trusted and talented colleague (and one of Terry's former clients too), respectively, and I would expect nothing less than excellence from either of them. Together they form a superb team. And more? Well, because this book not only covers a myriad of topics the writer of Christian fiction asks at some time during his or her career, but does so in an easy-to-read, challenging, and informative manner.

Terry Burns is a multi-published author, as well as a literary agent, and a popular presenter at writing conferences around the country. Linda Yezak is a published author, freelance editor, and conference presenter in the AR, LA,TX and OK regions. Together they bring a plethora of ideas and advice for the budding or old-hand writer for the Christian market. Writing in Obedience begins with a discussion of the difference between being called by God to write and writing as an offering to Him. Both, as the authors explain, are pleasing to the Father, and are simply two different ways to write for and about Him. From there, Burns and Yezak explore such topics as Who Is Your Audience?, Writing to Reach Nonbelievers, and How Much Christian Content? to Newbie Enthusiasm, Structuring the Story, and Keeping the Readers Engaged, and finish up with Do I Need an Agent?, Should I Self-Publish?, and Traditional Publishing Takes Time. There's more, of course, but too much to list in detail in this review, and there's something for everyone to take away in this 180-page book.

Writers of Christian content, whether fiction or non-fiction, know we're held to a higher standard than many of our secular counterparts. While good writing is good writing (and the publishing profession accepts no less from any writer, Christian or secular), the expectations of Christian readers for wholesome, uplifting, and Biblically-accurate content is paramount. Nonbelievers are even more critical of anything that smacks of Christianity, thereby being even harder to please. (And that's not even mentioning the Lord, for Whom we're writing in the first place.) This book goes a long way toward explaining how to prepare for a writing career in the Christian marketplace, whether your writing is a calling or an offering, what to expect from an agent, editor, publisher, or self-publishing, the importance of character, story, what is meant by the three-act format, setting, and many other questions writers-to-be or longtime writers have at one time or another. It's written in a friendly, conversational manner as if you're talking to the authors over a cup of coffee at your writers' group meeting. Whether you're just getting started, are discouraged, disappointed, or disillusioned, or just want a reminder of why you're writing Christian content in the first place, Writing in Obedience is the book for you.

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