Actually… Yes there is.
Let me explain.
Last week we talked about pride. We talked about how pride is the root of all evil and how it can cause so many issues in the lives of Christians, young people, and writers. But here’s something I did that is almost just as bad. After I realized how prideful I was, I almost became too humble. You’re probably thinking, “How is that even possible?” Oh it’s possible! Let me show you.
If you’re a perfectionist (like me) then you can sometimes take things to the opposite extreme. For example, when I realized that I was being prideful and overly critical of others and what they were saying about my story, I started to buy every little comment they gave me to make my writing better. I started catering to what everyone said and became fearful of man instead of fearing God. Thank goodness none of my editors pointed me away from Christ. But there were things that were suggested that would’ve taken away from the story.
I was a part of a writing group for several years. Everyone else in the group was writing fantasy that was geared towards older teens and young adults. Their writing was awesome, suspenseful, gripping, and very action-packed. Then…. There was my book. “A Cry From Egypt” is geared more towards 8-16 year olds, though I’ve had 4 and 5 year olds all the way up to college students and adults like it! But my friends who were fantasy writers didn’t really love to read my story because it wasn’t as exhilarating and exciting as all the other stories that were being passed around in our circles. They read it and enjoyed it and helped me work through it. But they kept saying it needed to be more suspenseful. I started to worry that my book was too bland and that people wouldn’t enjoy it.
When I brought my worries to my dad he told me, “Look, your stuff is exciting. It’s right from God’s word. That is what makes it exciting. Not the fact that there are people about to die in every chapter. Not about how action-packed it is. Not how much you can relate to different characters or put them in near-death situations. It’s about God’s word and His story. If you add any more action and mystery you will be taking away from God’s word and the message that people need to learn through the ten plagues.”
And boy was he right! I’m so thankful that I listened to him and stayed as close to the Biblical account as I could. Now, I did add some suspense and adventure and excitement. After all, what’s a good book without some moments where you’re holding your breath and dying to know what’s happening next? But action isn’t the main theme of my story. God is. And the funny thing is, lots of people who have reviewed my book now that it’s published thought there was almost too much violence and action in it! Good thing I didn’t add any more!
I also had two editors who I loved very much give me some very radical suggestions. They suggested that I combine “The Promised Land Series” into one giant book. They also suggested that I cut out some character entirely from the story. Wow. That was pretty wild! But these were people I trusted and who knew me and who knew my goals for the story. So, I prayed. I tried to use what little wisdom God had given me. And I talked with my dad. My dad and I agreed that we shouldn’t turn my series of four books into one giant book. But we did realize that the characters my editors mentioned were in the way. However, I couldn’t just get rid of them. I had to think long and hard, but I was able to minimize their importance in the story so that I can pull them out when I need them, but they weren’t distracting from the story any more. If I had taken their suggestions hook, line, and sinker, there would be no book entitled “A Cry From Egypt”! But if I didn’t listen, the book “A Cry From Egypt” wouldn’t be as good as it is today, by God’s grace.
So to summarize what we’ve said over the last two weeks and give you your homework….
1. Be humble! Be a listener and be teachable in all of life, not just your writing.
2. Pray for wisdom and use discernment when evaluating feedback.
3. Fear God rather than man.
4. Remember that other people are prideful, too, and they will want to write your story for you.
5. Listen carefully to suggestions you receive for radical changes (my dad and I just talked about some big changes for book 2!). You don’t always have to take them, but be prayerful and think it through and find the root or source of the big problem in your writing.
Happy Writing! Be sure to email me any questions you have that I haven’t answered so far in the series! It’s only 4 more weeks until the final blog post! Come back next week to learn about the different publishing routes you could take as a budding author!