There are dozens of writing programs available for teaching children
this important skill. Different approaches stress different goals for
students’ writing endeavors. Essays, term papers, book reports,
fiction stories . . . the list is endless. How do you decide which one
is best for your high-school (or older) student?
If your student enjoys writing fiction, The Art & Craft of Writing Christian
Fiction is a resource that deserves serious consideration.
Author and publisher Jeff Gerke has written this book from the
perspective of the publisher (the folks who decide if your work will be
published) for those who might some day want to submit a fiction
manuscript for publication.
At 308 pages, The Art & Craft of
Writing Christian Fiction is packed with 52 short, practical
“Mastery” units (chapters) that cover every aspect of
story-writing. The book is divided into four parts: The Spiritual Heart
of Writing Christian Fiction, Strategizing Yourself, Strategizing Your
Novel, and Writing Your Novel. Using humor and practical examples for
modeling, the author keeps you turning the pages to learn more about
topics like “The Ticking Time Bomb” (creating suspense),
“The Full Sensory Sweep” (using all the senses for
descriptions), or “The Dumb Puppet Trick” (getting
information to the reader without interfering with the story). No story
element is left out. He even devotes a chapter to “Stick with
Said.” After exploring this short, two-page discussion of
dialogue tags, you will come away convinced it sounds silly to avoid
repetition by using weird tags (blustered, opined, growled, chortled,
etc.) that stick out “like flares at midnight.” The goal of
well-written fiction is, after all, to keep the author invisible so
that readers can become immersed in the story.
A companion workbook is available for use alongside The Art & Craft of Writing Christian
Fiction. The author teamed up with homeschooling mom Mary Agius
to create a one-semester writing course (63 lessons) for high-school
students (and up). The 75-page, loose-leaf workbook comes hole-punched
and ready for a 3-ring binder. It also includes a glossary of writing
terms and a writing checklist at the back of the workbook, and the
lessons may be reproduced for members of the household.
More good news for busy homeschool moms: these biblically based lessons
are written for independent study, with no parental help (or teacher
guide) needed. If you do decide to grade assignments, a rubric is
included. Lessons are presented for Monday through Thursday, with
Fridays set aside for overall working on the novel. Each workbook
lesson includes: the Mastery (unit) the student should read from the
book, a few things to consider and think about, something to look up in
Scripture, practice in applying the Mastery; and then an opportunity to
apply what has been learned to the student’s own novel.
As a published author, I found the book not only refreshing and fun to
read but also right on target for crafting a Christian fiction novel. I
definitely would have snatched this up for my own homeschool classroom
if it had been available years ago. If you or your children have ever
harbored the ambition to some day become a published author, then The Art & Craft of Writing Christian
Fiction—and the practical application of these Masteries
through the workbook—is an excellent starting point for
fulfilling that dream.