Hints to writing better Biblical Fiction

Biblical fiction research starts in the Bible

Biblical fiction is the genre I write in (mostly… I do have a book about living on oxygen 24/7 but that’s non-fiction.)

As well as writing Biblical Fiction, I like reading it, and I do have some favorite authors who write great stories. There are some others, and I mentioned in a blog a long time ago that some seem to take their research from the block-buster movies. Movies makers aim to have a successful movie, not stay accurately to facts, therefore is not a reliable research activity.

Here is a link to a blog I had permission from Angela Hunt to re-blog. She makes a good explanation for why we should be trustworthy in our storytelling.

https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/biblical-novelists/

Biblical fiction readers deserve the best

The best what?

Stories? Perhaps… but stories based on the best facts we can find.

A story, or a character in the Bible inspires you to write about them. Well, that’s the beginning of a treasure hunt.

Why?

Because not all the information is in one or two verses.

Take the book of Genesis for example. When I attended a Bible Training Centre one of the lecturers explained how there were thousands of years between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.

Other teachers and pastors have reinforced that since. And there is the first clue… use more than one source. It’s a weak building with only one or two bricks.

Here’s how I have seen it explained.

Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens…”

The heavens first, then the angels. Now how do the teachers come to that? Their research, the Hebrew, and other parts of the Bible.

One of those other parts, believe it if you like, is the book of Job when God answers Job.

“Now gird up your loins like a man; for I will demand of you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare it if you have understanding! Who has determined its measurements if you know? Or who has stretched the line upon it? On what are the foundations fastened to? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38: 3-7
(Morning stars and sons of God are a type of angels, as explained in other parts of the Bible.)

Biblical Fiction authors do a lot of research

I can attest to that… and it becomes addictive.

Check out the sources of your research. Some are ‘weighted’ to a particular belief system so can be a little skewed. Another reason to check several sources.

Found an interesting book that reinforces what you think? Well, pray and ask God to lead you by His Spirit, and on a practical level, check the author Bio. What does it say? What are the credentials? Now, a love of the truth is more important than how many university degrees, because some who write commentaries are not even Christian, they are scholars.

More hints…

Download the free one-page PDF of other hints.

So here are some of the hints for your Biblical Fiction Research

Hope these help you make the reader of Biblical Fiction a happy reader.

Blessings

Susan

PS My pet hate in a Biblical Fiction book is modern Americanisms such as ‘scooted across.” I didn’t even know what it meant until I asked an American friend to explain.

According to dictionary.com the word was first used in 1750–60 AD not BC – and it’s the late Middle Ages at that.

Biblical Novelists

Biblical novelists tell the stories of the Bible

With permission I have re-blogged this post by Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt. Having stumbled across her post I loved her comments about Biblical novelists. This is just a section of it. The link to the original is at the end. (Confession: I have re-formatted it slightly and added some images but the text is as the original.)

Angela Hunt, one of the Biblical novelists

She asks…

Why do novelists write the stories of the Bible and call them “fiction?” I can give you several reasons

First, the Bible is a big collection of books, and the biblical authors were not novelists. They wrote facts, events, and dates from their perspective as they were moved by the Spirit of God. When they recounted events, however, they tended to write sparely, rather like an artist who does a pencil sketch. They relied on nouns and verbs, using few adjective and sometimes using few names.  Very rarely do they mention supporting characters, and even more rarely do they mention supporting women. We shouldn’t be surprised–they came from patriarchal societies.

Bible. One book, many stories

Biblical Novelists

What a trustworthy biblical novelist does is take the scripture and bring it to realistic life with layers of color and texture and sensory details. We research the historical time period and read dozens of works written in that time period whenever possible, so we can get a feel for how people actually wrote, lived, and spoke. When we encounter conflicting expert opinions, we choose the most logical. We consider human nature, which does not change. People still get angry, frustrated, and depressed. Even biblical characters make awful mistakes, and if the Bible doesn’t avoid recording them, why should a novelist?   Most of all, we keep the scriptural account as our touchstone, taking care not to violate it.  But the parts that spring from our imagination, we freely admit are fiction.

Based on real life

Part of being true to Scripture involves not always crafting the perfect ending. Not every biblical story has an “HEA” (happily ever after) conclusion. I know readers love them, but biblical stories are based on real life, and real life often leaves us sadder, but wiser . . . yet always filled with hope. Because our hope is found in God, who never changes or fails.

Biblical novelists bring the stories to life

Why not forget fiction and read only the Bible? Because the human spirit resonates to STORY.  When I was a little girl, before they had invented children’s church, I had to go into the adult service with my parents. As a four-, five-, and six-year-old, I tended to fidget and often put my head in my mother’s lap to sleep. But whenever the preacher said, “Reminds me of the time when . . .” I sat up, all ears and wide awake.  Why? Because those words signaled the beginning of a STORY, and I loved story. Nearly everyone does.

Jesus used stories to teach His followers–that’s what the parables were.  Through the work of the Spirit, some people caught the true meaning of Jesus’ stories, and others didn’t.

Most of my stories–even the contemporary, non-biblically based novels–are parables. Like onions, there’s an outer layer and several inner layers, and readers will take from it what they were ready to receive.  Some grasp the deeper meaning, others do not. But that’s okay. Their understanding depends on the Spirit.

So why read fiction based on biblical events?

  1. Because a trustworthy author will not violate Scripture.
  2. Because the fictional elements should be logical and based on historical facts.
  3. Because human nature is consistent over time. We often think our problems are unique, and we’re relieved to discover that we aren’t alone. Others have been in similar situations.
  4. Because historical fiction helps us better understand the culture and history of familiar story events.
  5. Because we learn from the lives of other people.
  6. Because God Himself recorded stories, and Jesus taught with them since humans are hard-wired to appreciate story. Who would know that better than the God who created us?

God gave us Scripture, and the doctrine of biblical sufficiency states that the Bible gives us all we need to know about God. But it does not give us all we want to know, and our quest for knowledge is a God-given gift. We yearn to know more, and well-written biblical, historical, and contemporary fiction can meet that need.

So don’t hesitate to open your heart and mind to a well-written biblical novel. You may be surprised to learn a truth you had never before considered.
(Angela Hunt)

I am grateful to Angela Hunt for permission to repost (part of) her post. She has given such great, clear reason for reading Biblical fiction. 

Original post

https://www.angelahuntbooks.com/2018/02/why-biblical-fiction/?fbclid=IwAR0IAVsMdv8rLyoVf5TETruSwjqcDIgXu65KwNX6BGgQtM54v7lXBJc4jYw

 

When I finish the book I am currently reading, I look forward to reading Angela Hunt’s novel, ‘Judah’s Wife’ – you see, not only do I write in this genre, I love reading it too.

Have a wonderful week ahead,

Susan