How to Provoke Questions

Barbara Nicolosi, founder of Act One(http://www.actoneprogram.com/index.htm) once said in an interview-

"Too many Christians think we are supposed to use the arts to give people the answers. We’re not. We’re supposed to use the arts to lead them into a question. And that is just one stage in their personal journey of divine revelation. Once they have a new question, they will be on a search - consciously or subconsciously. They are going to read, they are going to meet people, God is going to send other things in their life. They are not going to get dunked in the baptismal font and raised to the altar from a movie. That’s too much. But the arts can definitely send people delving."

I completely agree, and it applies to writing novels and comic-books as well. I once said in an earlier post that some Christian writers don't ever really care about the quality of their story as long as you become a Christian by the end of the book.

In actuality, the only thing you will accomplish by that method is to repel your readers. The main goal of a Christians' work should be to spark curiosity. Create an interesting story that'll hook your reader, and the audience will want to know more.


Two Ways to Portray Angelic and Demonic Spirits

There is still some debate among religious scholars about this very topic, but for those who are writing a novel or comic-book there are TWO WAYS to write about angels and demons-

1. Free Will- With this method, the spirits are self-aware beings that have a choice about what they can or can't do. I think this is a pretty cool way to portray spirits because it can lead to an interesting look on how angels do their jobs. A primary example is Lucifer; he decided to rebel against God and was subsequently kicked outta heaven.

2. Manifestion of Divine Will- With this method angels and demons are an extension of the being that controls them. Basically, they lack awareness and even consciousness as they can only do what they are told to do.


3 Ways to Work with Visions

Leave it open-ended.
It'll take all the suspense out of a story if everybody knows whats going to happen. Try leaving it open to the interpretation of the reader and the character(s). The premonition might be vague, or it may mean more than it appears. The Medium frequently has dreams where the vision means more than it suggests at first.

Make it a metaphor.
Maybe the dream or vision is a metaphor for something that happened or is going to happen. Alot of visions in the Bible where metaphors for something that was going to happen in the future.

Avoid inconstancy.
If a person has a vision about an event that's going to happen and they prevent it, that means it didn't happen at all! Try to make the vision portray possible outcomes of the situation the person has to prevent. You can also make the outcome become the very situation the character had forseen in the vision.


The Differences Between Prophets and Psychics

For those of you who want to write about a prophet or psychic but don't understand the distinction between them, this will hopefully help you to understand these types of characters.

Prophets are usually common people divinely inspired to represent God. While prophets are usually individually inspired, there are prophets who also have offspring with the power of prophecy, which is a kind of spiritual sensitivity to God. They may also see or experience supernatural visions, most commonly through dreaming.

Prophecy is a divinely inspired message usually revealing some sort of secret or divine info, but it also might be a preview concerning future events largely concerning the world or a part of the world. As said above, prophecy is a kind of spiritual sensitivity.

Psychics are people that claim to see or interact with the supernatural. They also have visions and see into the future at various times, but this is usually called clairvoyance. Some can see and talk to the dead.

Clairvoyance is used to refer to the ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event through means other than the known human abilities, also called ESP. A person with this power is also called clairvoyant.

The most common ability a psychic is the power to see or communicate with spirits. The TV series Supernatural is a very good reference for using these kinds of characters, especially seasons 1 and 2.


Don't Overdo It! How to Avoid Preaching At Your Readers

I've seen more than enough Christian fiction and comic-books that have tried to reach to secular audiences. I've haven't seen much that have succeeded in reaching out to the YA audience, especially comic-book wise.

I think it is great to express your beliefs in your stories, but when you are preaching at the reader every other word balloon or sentence, you are telling your readers that you do not care if they don't enjoy the storyline, they MUST become a Christian at the end of the book.

Here are a few suggestions to get across your message without pounding them into the readers head-

  • Don't try to make EVERYTHING rated-G. While excessive cursing, violence and sexual overtones are disgusting, everything should not become a 'Barney and Friends' adventure. It is okay to show characters with serious problems, it allows people to relate to what the characters in your story. And if you've ever read the Bible, you'd definitely notice it isn't exactly Rated-G experience...

  • Have your characters express their beliefs by how they act and think. No reader will appreciate it if they are spouting verses all the time. Also having characters act overly moral will also destroy relatability. Here is a good link that will help you avoid goody two-shoes characters:http://www.superheronation.com/2008/08/05/problem-characters-mary-sues/

  • Let your story represent itself. If you made the book(or comic-book) well enough, than you shouldn't have to be concerned about whether the story gets your message across.

  • It is okay to base titles and storylines on Bible verses and passages, as long as they aren't used too rigidly. Books like a Wrinkle in Time(by Madeleine L'Engle), and This Present Darkness(by Frank E. Peretti) use biblical verses in their stories pretty well.