Craft

Writing the Deeper Story

I realize this will probably date me, but I sincerely enjoyed a popular radio feature by Paul Harvey called, “The Rest of the Story.” I assume some reading this post today also remember it.

For generations, the venerable radio commentator, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 90, told a little known story about a well-known person or event, only revealing the subject of the story at the end of the feature. It provided a fresh perspective on the familiar and was one of the most popular radio features in 20th Century America.

For Christian authors, there is always a deeper story than the one on the surface. In fact, a writer with a Christian perspective usually explores several layers deeper than a writer without it.

First, there is a story, then the hidden and unknown “rest of the story,” and then a much deeper perspective, the one of how God worked to create an outcome much different than what it would have been otherwise.

It’s the deeper story.

The appeal of Christian books is about this deeper story. Fiction or non-fiction, the compelling aspect will be one level deeper than most other books without it.

The wider world of books might tell a great tale about a person who helps refugees in a dangerous part of the world.

An insightful writer would add the rest of the story, about how the person gave up a lucrative medical practice to do the work.

But it is the Christian author adding the deeper story about God working throughout to inspire, direct and sustain in the difficult work.

Publishers of books without a Christian message would tell the first two parts and more often avoid the last part, probably because it might offend a reader or maybe they simply do not understand it.

But Christians know without the deeper story, the other parts would never happen.

Avoiding the deeper story is intentionally leaving out the most important part, hoping a reader would draw their own correct conclusions.

This explains the deep divide between Christian-themed books and broader market books. Leaving out the spiritual changes the story. Was it just a humanist struggle for meaning and purpose?

Maybe on a certain level, this approach of leaving out the deeper story appeals to some people. After all, the deeper story is often uncomfortable because it’s not about us, especially if a book is attempting to prove how a certain hero is so smart, strong and capable.  After all, smart, strong and capable people don’t need God’s help. Right?

The ability to write this deeper story usually tracks with age, experience and spiritual maturity.

A grade school student might write a paper about George Washington and the winter at Valley Forge with names, dates and a list of troubles experienced by the colonial army.

By high school or college, the same student would add the rest of the story with some of the human element of the struggle, emphasizing the commitment to a common goal, which sustained the soldiers.

Later in life, the writer might explore the deeper story with depictions of the future first President agonizing alone in the woods just outside the camp praying for guidance and strength, wondering what a person in leadership in such a dire circumstance might actually pray and what Scriptures might have been most inspiring.

The deeper story is always the part where the reader slows down the reading pace and maybe re-reads a section, pondering the meaning. Often, the deeper story can help a reader remember the less-deep details more because the story is now multi-faceted and far more interesting.

So, always tell great stories and don’t forget to tell the rest of the story with information most people don’t know already. But then keep going and tell the deeper story. It’s what makes the Christian author unique and honestly, a lot more real.

 

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