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Friday, December 12, 2014

The Biggest Threat to Your Novel

by Allen Arnold

The characters in your novel are in danger.

They face a grave threat they cannot possible defeat.
It is a force more powerful than your story’s villain.
In fact, the villain will succumb to it as well.
Unchecked, it will be the end of everything.

The source?


As Creator, everything in your story is powered by – and limited by – your DNA.
Your blood flows through every sentence, color and sound.
And if the life-blood of your story has an infection, it will affect all it comes in contact with.

No character can draw on more faith, love or hope
than you’ve drawn on in your life. None can experience a grander adventure than you’ve tasted. Risk more than you’ve dared risk. Love more deeply or sacrificially than you have.

Your created world will be handicapped in the areas you have neglected in the real world. Where you have turned a blind eye, your characters will lose sight. Where you have gone deaf, they will lose hearing. Are you investing more in your made-up world than in the people who need your time in the next room? Is your relationship with God still vibrant or has there been no time recently to nurture it? Do you write for the approval of man or to experience the joy of creating with God?

Your protagonist already knows the answers to those questions.

Your characters are fully aware that you can’t tell
a better story than you are living.
Their universe thrives where you do.
And it malfunctions where you do.

They hunger for more strength, faith, and courage.
They want to know God deeper.
But they only can access what you have experienced.
As your life grows richer in real adventure, testing, and sacrifice, so does theirs.

So they send this request.
Get away from the laptop now.
They’ll wait for you.
Spend more time living than writing.
Invest more in the world around you
than the world you’re creating.
Change the atmosphere in your world
so their atmosphere can become richer.

The cure starts with you.

God cares far more about the story you’re
living than the novel you’re creating.

So first live well.
Then create well.

The fate of your story depends on it.

Allen Arnold loves the epic adventure God has set before him. From the mountains of Colorado, he leads Content & Resources for Ransomed Heart Ministries (led by John Eldredge). Before that, he spent 20 years in Christian Publishing - overseeing  the development of more than 500 novels as founder and Publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction. He was awarded the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. But that doesn't really describe the man. Allen savors time with his family, craves the beach, drinks salsa by the glass, is hooked on the TV series "Once Upon a Time" and is passionate about helping storytellers tell better stories from an awakened heart.


  1. Allen, Your words are exactly what I needed as an author. I'm guilty of holding back on life; too conservative, too reined in, too much time with PC - that impersonal thing that does nothing of eternal value. Thanks for the nudge.

  2. Allen, you made my day. Thank you for the reminder of who we are and who we serve.


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