Christian Fiction Writer


Quotes About Writers and Writing

John Updike on a Tom Wolfe character:
The character's "pronunciations are steadfastly spelled out--'sump'm' for 'something,' 'far fat' for 'fire fight'--in a way that a Faulkner character would be spared. For Faulkner, Southern life was life (italics mine); for Wolfe it is a provincial curiosity..." Excerpt from Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft, Burroway and Stuckey-French.

"Desire and an occasional first draft do not a writer make, any more than a guitar and a couple of rote riffs make a musician." J. Mark Bertrand,

"Perhaps you are one of those students who say, 'I couldn't write a good story. I'm afraid; I'm no good at making up plots.' If you make such a remark, you are probably thinking of plot as a complex structure to be evolved from thin air, completed, and then given to a group of characters. Such a plot would hinder or even defeat your effort to express your experience." From The Process of Creative Writing, Pearl Hogrefe, Prof. Eng., Iowa State University, 1963.

Get a copy of this book. It is out of print, but you can get older copies on the web. I picked mine up in a used book store. It's full of detailed explanation of the writing process, exercises and examples.
F. Scott Fitzgerald never had a blockbuster novel--not even This Side of Paradise, which sold 52,000 copies in his lifetime and earned about $15,000 in royalties. Gatsby and Tender Is the Night were financial failures. In 1929 eight Post (short) stories brought Fitzgerald $30,000, while all of his books earned total royalties of $31.77 (including $5.10 for Gatsby). Matthew J. Bruccoli, Editor of The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, A New Collection, 1989 Charles Scribner's Sons.

Fitzgerald wrote to his daughter, Scottie Fitzgerald Smith in 1939, "Sometimes I wish I had gone along with that gang (of musical comedy writers) but I guess I am too much a moralist at heart and really want to preach at people in some acceptable form rather than to entertain them." Ibid.

Fitzgerald in his Notebooks: I have asked a lot of my emotions--one hundred and twenty stories. The price was high, right up with Kipling, because there was one little drop of something--not blood, not a tear, not my seed, but me more intimately than these, in every story--it was the extra I had. Now it has gone and I am just like you now." During this period of discouragement he explained to his agent, Harold Ober, that "all my stories are conceived like novels, require a special emotion, a special experience--so that my readers, if such there be, know that each time it'll be something new, not in form, but in substance (it'd be better for me if I could write pattern stories but the pencil just goes dead on me. . .) Ibid.

I can only say that there are, perhaps, other ways than my own in which this story could be read, but none other by which it could have been written. Flannery O'Connor
I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace. This idea, that reality is something to which we must be returned at considerable cost, is one which is seldom understood by the casual reader, but it is one which is implicit in the Christian world view. I have found, in short, from reading my own writing, that my subject in fiction is the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil.
Quote of Flanner O'Connor, read essay by Patrick Galloway, The Dark Side of the Cross: Flannery O'Connor's Short Fiction

Have you ever considered what it really means to just write? It means, Beg, borrow and steal from all your other involvements—family, friends, full-time job, volunteering at the orphanage—and invest in this frivolous, unfounded, pie-in-the-sky, pipe dream of yours. Writing may not be the most selfish, egomaniacal thing you can do with your time—but it probably is.--Mike Silva at My Writers Group,

J. Brisbane in Duality of Light and Darkness: We can't win someone to Christ through a book. Only a personal relationship with a real human can lead a person through the confusing slurry of emotions to faith in Christ. I think we should therefore de-emphasize campy tent-revival proselytization in favor of Flannery O'Connor-style hard-hitting spiritual questions. I think there is an audience (hopefully large enough to support several authors, since I don't intend on making a career out of writing for nothing :-) that is longing, aching, and dying of thirst for work that is lit up with life and doesn't shy away from the tough and painful consequences of living in a fallen universe that is slowly dying from the cancerous tumor that is Sin. I pray that I can use the talents God has currently entrusted in me and multiply them many times over so that when I am asked to return them, I can give Him back more than I was given.

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. Ben Franklin, 1706.

We want competence, but competence itself is deadly. What you want is vision to go with it, and you do not get this from a writing class. Flannery O'Connor.

You sit at an empty computer screen hoping for inspiration. A dozen nagging, self-mocking thoughts echo in your head: You're untalented, afraid you're getting old and fat. No woman (or man) will ever want to sleep with you again. Your life is over. Frankly, this difficult emotional terrain is where a writer lives much of the time--in a matrix of triumph and defeats. . .Optimisim and despair, impassioned beliefs and crushing deflations. In the end, it's all just grist for the creative mill. What's a writer to do with that level of anxiety? Use it. Because when all that's left is writing, writing's all that's left. When All That's Left is Writing: Turning Anxiety Into Creativity, by Dennis Palumbo, Former Hollywood Screenwriter and author of Writing From the Inside Out. More at
One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons by George Booth depicts a tormented, obviously 'blocked' writer sitting at his typewriter, crumpled paper strewn about, surrounded by literally dozens of dogs -- napping, barking, hanging from the window sills, etc. The writer's wife stands in the doorway, glaring at him in weary disdain.''Write about dogs,' she says.
By Dennis Palumbo, The Three Cosmic Rules of Writing. More at
A reader complained to Jerry Jenkins that he had killed one of the characters in the Left Behind series. Jerry replied, "I didn't kill him. I walked into the room and found him dead, just like you did." Jeff Adams, Fellowship of Christian Writers.

The shape of the hills, the bend in the rivers, the shape of the coast, the way in which the villages and towns are settled are what fascinate me. Gregor Dallas in his preface to 1918, War and Peace.

When asked why A Bride Most Begrudging was published under Bethany House's Edgy Inspirational category, DeeAnne Gist responded: "The difference between my book and more traditional inspirational fiction is that I reveal to the readers what my characters were thinking -- pure or not. The question is. . . does that make it edgy or simply more realistic? Who's to say?" Read more of Interview with DeeAnne Gist in the Archives list.

Anyone who calls a writer "humble" doesn't understand the very nature of writing itself. There is an intrinsic arrogance to putting words to paper (or to web page, thank you) and then trying to have them read. . . posted by David (fiction acquistions editor with Bethany House.)
Read more at faith*in*fiction blog.