Instead of a lengthy introduction, I shall heed my own advice and jump straight into my second tip of writing Christian fantasy. (In case you have just joined us, this is the second installment of a series called “50 Tips for Writing Christian Fantasy.” You can view the first post here or follow on Pinterest here.)
Writing Christian Fantasy Tip #2: Be Brief
I love asking people what their opinions are about the books and the movies of The Lord of the Rings. Sometimes I find a kindred spirit who loves the books, but mostly people like the movies better. When I ask why, they list these reasons.
- “Good books, but really, really long!”
- “Too much description. Pages and pages!”
- “Just get to the story! Stop the history.”
- “Where did Arwen go and why isn’t she really in the books?”
As any self-respecting Lord of the Rings fan, I am always shocked and horrified. How could you not fall in love with the books?
Today’s audience is different than when Tolkien wrote his novels. In this modern age, we are used to getting what we want right now.
When writing Christian fantasy, weave your world in through the dialogue and conflict. Sprinkle it throughout the book, much like you would experience when traveling to another country. I’m not saying to delete it all. (You might have to get rid of some if you have tons.) Just rework it throughout the book instead of dumping it all in one place.
Why It’s Better to be Brief in Christian Fantasy
As you can see, readers want the story to progress. When you give them pages of history, it reads like a textbook. But small details of the surrounding or history can deepen the story.
For example, let’s say the main character is finding out that his parents were massacred years ago instead of dying for sickness like he’s been told. He could remember another person, Rah, he had always heard stories of. “This is what Rah must have felt when he heard that his parents were murdered.” Perhaps the main character would look across the rocky cliffs that held the wild dragons and think how hard life is.
Secondly, by lightly touching on history, you add to the mystery and perhaps give yourself a prequel to write. Don’t always give your readers every answer. In real life, we don’t always have all the answers, and sometimes it’s fun to play with the readers. For example, in my first book, Toxic, I quite innocently had one of my character hear a howling and then think, “It couldn’t be a wolf. All the wolves were killed in the Great War.” Out of a 92,000 word book, this sentence has created the most interest, and I plan to go back to this one day. (Incidentally, I have no idea why there were all killed, but I’ll figure that out later!)
Read through what you have written. Note anywhere you have a long paragraph or more of history, custom, language, or description. Reevaluate those sections. Can you separate out that huge chunk and weave it in throughout the dialogue and action?
What do you think? Do you love the long description and backstory? Do you always want more history while you read? Or do you want the story to continue?