After my first avid reading friend told me she had made a vow not to read fiction until the end of the year and hoped by then her desire to read fiction would be gone for good, my thought was, I would never try to convince my friend she should read fiction if she has a conviction against it. I know my life would be very dull without fiction.
Because I could see a reason to relieve any guilt other Christians might have about reading fiction, I became interested in the discussion questions in the back of some of my Christian friends’ novels. They always seemed to reveal the author’s motives in writing that particular story. The questions bring out the growth in the characters as they lived through the events of the story, and as they became better people.
In asking around about lessons on writing reader questions … what type of questions to ask, I learned some of my author friends are required to write the questions but admit they never read them and don’t know why they are asked to provide them.
I never found those lessons. So, I’m not sure how I did it, but I came up with 9 questions for the back of my book.
Last week a writing friend stopped in. I had one proof copy of my book left. A few years back she was writing fiction and it was awesome. Her words take on a lyrical quality. In fact she wrote the most awesome story I have ever read about the murderer Barabbas who was spared crucifixion at the time our Lord was sacrificed for our sins. So I know at one time she understood the place of Christian fiction in our lives.
She took the book knowing it was fiction, but thinking she could read it—for me. And she did give me some points and suggestions for three different changes, which I appreciated. But she couldn’t get past chapter eight because to her it read like a romance. And she had decided a few years ago that reading romance stories were not good for her mind. In fact she has not read fiction at all for several years. So of course she never made it to the discussion questions. I did not know my friend had quit reading fiction when I asked her to read it. And I did not try to convince her to finish it.
Earlier, my sister read a PDF copy of this story, and her words to me were: “Thank you for letting me read your book. At first I thought, ‘Oh dear, this is a Harlequin Romance’—but as the story progressed I realized it wasn’t. I cried when [unnamed character] died. I was on the edge of my seat while Birdie was running through the tunnel. I could picture it all. You have several subplots that make it interesting, but more important, you have several messages about Christian living.”
I’m still trying to come up with a basic template for discovering how to write the best discussion questions for any given book. Do you have any suggestions?