During 2013, dozens of talented writers are joining me to cheer you on in your storytelling. These guest-writers will share a few helpful words with you right here every Tuesday night, to encourage you as you #TellHisStory. (Come back after midnight Wednesday to link up your God Story by clicking here. From now through Easter, we’re considering “The Lenten Journey,” though you are free to share ANY story that God lays on your heart.)
And now, I’m delighted to introduce you to the amazing Sarah Atkinson from Tyndale Momentum, the company publishing my book.
“It can be tempting to disown the past only to celebrate the present self. What a fool I was! (But how clever I am now to see it.) And all the while the reader knows that previous selves are not so easily discarded.”
—Kidder/Todd, Good Prose
n writing about the Christian walk, we are always writing of transformation. We’re telling the truth about who we were before Christ and what God has done in us since. Yet in telling your story, consider whether you may be “disowning the past” at the expense of your voice by:
• Overcompensating. “I was SO bad then. I’ll tell you about the things I did, but I’m not proud of them. In fact, I’m going to say that in every anecdote.” Here, the author is telling me about, not showing me, transformation. This interrupts the narrative flow and pulls me out of the moment.
• Trying too hard to make the “previous self” comical. I love writers who are witty, but when stories are overly exaggerated, it can make an author sound like he or she was simply a clueless idiot before coming to Christ…when the truth is presumably a little more complicated than that.
• Self-styling. We all know how to tell stories about how bad we were while making our present selves look good (But how clever I am now to see it). It’s possible to construct a present self who is just likeably messed-up enough that readers will know you’re not perfect (I sometimes go to the store in my pajamas!) while carefully sidestepping real authenticity.
Celebrate transformation in your life—but remember your “previous self” as you write. Would your words now have been helpful to her then? Or might you be discarding her too easily?
Sarah Atkinson is Senior Acquisitions
Editor for Tyndale Momentum, a nonfiction imprint of Tyndale House Publishers.
Find her on Twitter (@sclairatkinson)
or visit www.tyndalemomentum.com.