Really good fiction is one of the greatest joys of life. Losing yourself in the pages of a romance, adventure, mystery, the Wild West, among the Amish, or even in the wilds of the Amazon can provide a respite from the rigors of day-to-day living and bring refreshment to your mind and soul. The value of story is more than mere entertainment; it has weight. Jesus used this art form to convey the message of the kingdom of heaven.
There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living (Luke 15:11-13 NIV).
“Oh, no!” said the thoroughly engaged reader. “Then what happened?”
As an evangelical Christian publishing house, it is our honor and privilege to provide a way for talented Christian writers to tell meaningful stories. But what makes a good book?
Here’s a list I use to evaluate a fiction manuscript as an acquisitions editor:
- Is the inspirational element organic to the story? Or does it feel merely slapped on because this is a “Christian” novel?
- Is the writing beautiful? Fresh and not full of clichés or trite catch phrases? Do the words flow effortlessly and almost unnoticed, or is the writer trying too hard to be clever by using unnecessary 50-cent words when simpler ones would do?
- Does the story start in the right place? And is the story put together well from the beginning to the end, with no sagging in the middle?
- Is the plot engaging without being emotionally challenging merely for that effect? Does this story hit the sweet spot of our particular house? Is it in a genre readers are looking for?
- Is the dialogue believable? Does it sound natural? Is there enough?
- Are the characters relatable, even if a hobbit? Even if a Water Rat befriending a Mole?
- Is the manuscript clean in its construct, without too many typos and grammatical mistakes?
- Is the title irresistible and unforgettable?
What are some of the things you look for in a good book?
If you have a spare minute, this would be a super time to share your thoughts and some favorite novels with other book lovers and Christian writers here on this blog.
Taking a few moments to think about what makes a good book has benefited my reading life because, as the saying goes, “So many books, so little time.”
Use your time well and be very, very blessed indeed.