The Bible is the most printed book in all of existence. And while lots of writers do not believe in God, they should look into why it's the most popular book and how. Supposedly there have been six billion Bibles printed, but nothing is exact. Still. Wow. It'd be a good idea to have a chat with the best-selling author of the world. Yes?
1. HOPE & LOVE
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1. Hope & Love
ROMANS 15:4 -- For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Readers look for specific things in stories. Let's look at the best-sellers to find out what they are. Take the Top 10. (I hate citing Wiki, but this isn't an official document, so go with it.)
I'm not an expert in most of these books but I have read the Bible, the Qur'an, and definitely Harry Potter. These books contain instruction, hope, an escape, or a peace to accept ourselves as we are. Some have all, some have one. Of course there are lots of other factors that make these best sellers but to the people who actually WANT to read them, they seek hope; they seek love.
What you write should have something like this. Give your readers hope. An underdog is always a fan favorite. (David and Goliath. Katniss and Snow. Potter and Voldemort.) Give your readers love. (God the Father and the World. Lily and Severus.) Give your readers instruction. Give them a moral to a story. Give them mistakes the protagonist made and have the character and reader learn from them.
Faith, Hope, and Love are gifts from God. But the greatest is Love. Hold true to this when working on your story.
ECCLESIASTES 1:9 -- What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
It's okay to be unoriginal. No matter what you write about, someone, or even God already created something similar. The key is to add at least one more attribute that makes it your own. Since I will never give Twilight the time of day, let's go to K. M. Weiland. She inspired me to write this blog, so I should promote her work. In her blog The 4 Tweaks to Writing Truly Original Stories and Characters she mentions her own designs for her genre. She researched the fantasy genre and updated her knowledge on it. She learned about the cliches and tweaked them for her own book. Her dragon became something else. Her races became something more.
My own example is dragon-related. As Tolkien said, a book isn't worth reading unless there's a dragon, so I made my own race of them. Sort of. People love dragons. It's okay to have them in your work. People love vampires, zombies, and fairies. So does God. He loves the work you do and loves watching you use your borrowed talents. Like a parent smitten with scribbles on a page. God will put it up on a big, heavenly refrigerator, and boast about how awesome your work is. (Not that your work is a bunch of scribbles...)
One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is the Valley of Dry Bones. Anything that shows God being dark and creepy to others is absolutely beautiful to me. He wills the bones to come to life. They shake and mount into skeletons, then all the ooey gooey insides form, then the skin, then the breath. Such poetry in the image. When I read this I knew I wrote my first book for a reason bigger than my own. Though zombies and grim reapers are "nothing new under the sun" I made death my own theme. And I knew, just because it's creepy and dark, God loves it. I made it through His help.
MATTHEW 7:8 -- For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Our finished works are never what we thought they'd be in the beginning. You have your outline, your characters, your theme, and then you start to write. It's a journey all its own. A character's motivations take them in ways we didn't want them to, but they have to, because that's their way. God may have purpose for Jonah, but Jonah didn't listen. What happens when characters don't listen to the author? We give them trials, consequences of their actions that add more dynamics to the story. We somehow knew something would happen but not precisely what.
Ever paint? You have an idea of what you're going to make, and you try to make it exactly what's in your head, but it turns out completely different. Yet it might be better than what you thought first. There's concept then production. Happens all the time. That's a good thing. It's fun. It breaks the system and adds vibrance from both sides: behind the keyboard and in the story.
God wants us to discover ourselves, more importantly, he wants us to discover life, and as the result, the beauty of his works. Nothing new under the sun? Cuz he made it. But that doesn't mean we've found everything he's made yet. So go out and find it. Go out and find him. Discovery is a relationship between creator and creation. In such a vast world of imagination, anything is possible except the possibility of nothing.
JAMES 1:3 -- For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
You attend your first date. You sit down with him or her and you say, "Hi," then they say "Hi, my name is blah-blah-blah, I've lived for blah-blah in blah-blah, I do this, this, this, this, and that, that, that, and a little of that, but lots of this. I used to be a murderer/dealer/detective/king/hitman/insert crazy occupation here, until this one other crazy thing happened, so I took up this other thing, and fought with this person crazier than me, but I'm really excited to meet you because I've done all these background checks on you, and you just seem like such an amazing person, and I want to protect you and love you for the rest of our lives, and maybe have children. And a dog. I like dogs." And he or she keeps talking and you run. You run far. That's the sane thing to do, right?
The Bible is layers upon layers of information and we only read one piece and somehow we don't see the same verse we read in a different light until months, maybe years down the road, when we read it again, and it means something else. Or we're first learning about God and only read the nice, happy parts, like the miracles.
"Hi. I'm Jesus. I do miracles."
Then you warm up to him, thinking this is an all right guy. Until he gets angry. He flips merchant tables in the air and yells at people to leave the church.
What just happened? He's such a chill dude! Why is he acting that way?
You read more. You find out why. One character trait is revealed, and then another, and then another.
Then you want to read the history of this world. This Jesus was planned long before his birth. What? Yeah. How is that possible?
So you read. And the layers keep getting read until you're so involved with the book you can't leave.
God teaches you pace. He teaches you not to make your readers run away by overloading them with information. He shows you, he doesn't tell you. He shows you active and passive voice. I'm certain God invented the term "info-dump." And even though the Bible is dense with information, he understands that we will become overwhelmed with some pages, so those verses you read years before that made no sense might make sense now. You never know. But that's a faith thing. Not a pace thing. Another topic for another blogger.
You want to dream big but you have little faith in yourself let alone God. We have to believe there is something more to us than mediocrity. Through hope, love, and discovery, we find our own greatness within what we find already great. It does not mean any of us are the same. It does not mean by others' greatness we are washed out. We are a gallery and the artist. We just need to try and with trying, we find purpose.
ROMANS 5:3-4 -- More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope...
2 TIMOTHY 3:16 -- All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
God used many people throughout many time periods to create the Bible. And crazy as it is, all the books put together check out. Things that are said in the Old Testament about an angel coming to Earth to save people is written in the New Testament as Jesus. Writers for Old Testament had no clue about Jesus. Never saw him, never existed when He was born. Yet it's there, connecting chapter after chapter with this prophecy that a symbol of unconditional love will arrive to save the people God loves. God used all these writers for a greater purpose that they could not see, but God could. God, the master writer. These writers are one page in a book; one thread in the tapestry. What writers do is very important. Writers spread messages through the painting of words. Know that what you choose to write is important. You have a purpose. You are inspired for a reason and those reasons may be selfish, selfless, or all over the place. But there is always one master writer guiding those reasons for his ultimate reason.
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I am in no way an expert of the Bible. I struggled with this because how do I talk about something that's perfectly made? I can't do it justice. I can only hope as I did my best. Some of the verses have nothing to do with the context I've posted.
(1 JOHN 4:1-3 -- Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.)
But if this post made you read the descriptive text of each verse, then that means you don't take my words at face value, and that's a double win for God and myself. I know you will do anything to seek the truth and God gets some one-on-one time with you. If you're just here for the inspiration that you are something special, and what you're doing is greater than yourself, that's what this post intends.
You are unique.
You have purpose.
You can do anything.
He is not finished with you yet.