I first heard this phrase “being a voice and not an echo” at a non-writing conference a few years ago.
The speaker was encouraging us to find life and freshness in God then speaking it out to the rest of the world.
We then find ourselves parroting heaven rather than “earth.”
There’s so much joy and life in the words coming from the heart of God rather than the heart of men.
I mean, we’ve all seen it. A news story breaks and suddenly every one is repeating the facts -- whether right or wrong -- and the world begins echoing the exact same phrases.
And it seems truth can’t get an word in edgewise!
I always cringe at the latest diet news. Don’t you? Suddenly green beans cause some life stopping disease. What?! I’ve been eating green beans my whole life.
Once it’s out there, it’s almost impossible to stop.
It’s an echo. Not a true voice.
As a writer, I’m prone to make the same mistakes. If I’m not careful, I’ll be an echo instead of a clarion sounding voice.
Even in fiction, there must be an element of truth in the story that calls to the human heart.
Writing in the Christian market pushes me to go beyond the realm of this life to find meaning and purpose for our characters. While I’m not writing sermons and devotionals set in fictional places with fictional characters, I am imitating life.
Jesus is very much a part of my every day life. So why not be a part of my writing, of my stories, of my characters?
But all too often Christian stories sound hokey, canned, full of Christianese. My first book This Time reads that way to me now. But at the time, I thought I was blowing away all the typical Christian novels. Oh, so little did I know!
What I discovered is how we talk to one another in the foyer at church, or in Sunday school class, does not translate into good fiction.
My goal is to write great stories about great characters. My stories should not have an agenda where I pound the pulpit, so to speak, with my soap box.
So how do I, or any author, develop a convincing, authentic spiritual thread?
A lot of prayer and pondering. Digging deep to translate those standard words like, “Is he a believer?” to something every one can relate to. Like, “Does he believe in Jesus?” Simple, straight forward, and a non-Christian can get it.
I avoid soap boxes. I don’t preach to the reader out of my personal wounds or doctrinal passions. One, those things are obvious. Two, they usually make for some boring prose. I try to find one truth that I’ve learned lately and weave it into my characters and let the rest flow naturally.
I’ve learned novels are not Bible studies. I don’t write and discuss long passages of scripture or quote noted Bible teachers in the midst of a story. Even if the character talking is a preacher!
I work to express God in creative ways. In one of my books, God got the heroine’s attention by having feathers appearing out of nowhere. Even inside her apartment! In another, the heroine senses a strong fragrance.
Since I can’t write about what I don’t have, my personal spiritual journey is key to the spiritual journey of the character. I need to be spending time with Him, hanging out with His Spirit to get a sense of who He is in greater measure. Often, those revelations find themselves in my characters!
If I’m not going deep in God, spending time at His feet, praying, worshipping, fellowshipping with others in the body of Christ, my spiritual message will be flat.
But as I spend time in His presence, meditating on His Word, the spiritual thread becomes a part of me, a part of the character, a part of the whole book. And I may only have to mention Jesus once. But He’s everywhere in the story, seen but unseen.
That’s how to be a voice and not an echo. By being lead by the Spirit not doctrine. I don’t just repeat what others are saying. I get my own revelation and then back it up with the truth of the Word, praying for a way to weave it into my character’s journey.
Am I perfect at it. Nope! But it’s my heart to be a voice not an echo.
When have you realized you spoke something out as a voice not an echo? Even if it wasn't popular? If you're a writer, did it end up in your story?
Thanks to Seekerville, a place for voices, for having me here today!
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as RITA nominated The Wedding Dress and RITA nominated Love Starts with Elle. She penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Their novel Softly and Tenderly, was one of Booklists 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals.
A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, she worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in uncomfortable chair to write full time in 2004.
Rachel serves on the Executive Board of American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker.
She writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair.
She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.
Here latest release is Once Upon A Prince, is the first book in the Royal Wedding Series.
Today Rachel is giving one commenter a copy of Once Upon A Prince. Comment and let us know you want to be in the drawing.
For extra fun, check out Rachel's interview on her RITA finaling book, The Wedding Dress, here.