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Complete Guide to Writing and Selling the Christian Novel Paperback – February 1, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Writing for the Christian-fiction market has its benefits. One generally doesn't need an agent to get one's manuscript considered. Though the quality of Christian fiction has improved greatly in the past decade or so, publishers are still willing to take a chance on a newcomer. And most Christian publishing houses are small, making the publishing process a warmer, more personal experience. But be forewarned. Christian, or evangelical, fiction isn't just about characters who "pray, preach and sing gospel songs," says Penelope J. Stokes. It's about "living, breathing spiritual beings who grapple with the hard questions of life and find ... hope in the reality of God's presence in the world." Stokes has edited (and written) Christian fiction for 15 years; her Complete Guide to Writing & Selling the Christian Novel is a fantastic resource for the writer of Christian fiction.

In addition to providing advice from which any fiction writer would benefit, Stokes does a fine job of defining Christian fiction. It is, she says, first and foremost fiction. It is not sermonizing. It is not about saving lost souls ("Rarely," she says, "does a religious novel find an audience among the unconverted"). It best not be full of religious jargon or Bible-quoting zealots. Still, it must have "a distinctly religious viewpoint, usually marked by the personal conversion of one or more characters." And just because, as a believer, you see your writing as a gift and a calling, don't think for a minute that your work is beyond revision. "Creation is not the end of the process," says Stokes. "It's the beginning. In the image of our Creator, we continue the work of ongoing re-creation. We revise, refine, reorganize and rewrite. And at the end of the day we, too, can rest and say, 'It is good.'" --Jane Steinberg --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: F+W Media (February 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582972680
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582972688
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,073,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

The result is a thorough book for those wanting to write Christian fiction.
likes good books, music, movies
This is a very practical book with helpful examples every step of the way so that you understand what the author is trying to teach.
TheOrangeFather
She presents the realities of being a Christian author and what the industry is like.
Robert Graves

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By sabra.robinson@mciworld.com on August 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a first-time African-American novelist, reading "The Complete Guide to Writing & Selling the Christian Novel" gave me valuable insight and many "ah-hahs" when approaching my writing. It provided me valuable information on how to approach publishers, agents (if necessary), and insight about decision-making during the writing process. Other Christian books I would recommend are: 1999 Christian Writers' Market Guide by Sally E. Stuart, Sally Stuart's Guide to Getting Published, by Sally E. Stuart & How to Write Attention-Grabbing Query & Cover Letters by John Wood,
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
'The Complete Guide to Writing and Selling The Christian Novel' will change not only how you write, but how you live! Penelope speaks directly to the heart of the writer, emphasizing the ultimate importance of everything (including writing) he/she does flowing out from his/her intimate & integral relationship with Christ. Many books and articles I have read on writing have given much thought into plot development, but Penelope takes great pains to teach her readers how to develop living, breathing characters with dialogue that sparkles. She also gives some bare-bones advice about approaching markets, making suggestions such as using business cards and fine-quality paper for query letters, and how to put together a winning book proposal. I am only halfway through this book and already I am a better writer with a stronger sense of my calling as a 'Christian writer'. IMO, if all serious Christian writers would read and take to heart 'The Complete Guide to Writing and Selling The Christian Novel', we would see a great rise in the quality and integrity of Christian literature today. A must-have for every Christian fiction writer!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. Stephans VINE VOICE on January 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ms. Stokes offers honest, helpful advice and instruction for aspiring writers of Christian fiction. She cites statistics and knowledge regarding the Christian fiction market that writers need to know. She seems to have a good grasp on what the publishers and booksellers are also wanting, and this is what it comes down to knowing when trying to sell a Christian novel to a publisher.
In addition to sharing her knowledge of the industry, Ms. Stokes writes about some of the common errors Christian fiction writers make. She provides solid instruction about several things the writer needs to check before submitting a book for review.
Overall, I found this to be a wise, general teaching tool for me. It also gave me some other resources to read.
I agree with a previous reviewer that there are peculiarities in the Christian fiction market that are frustrating, such as what I would consider the lack of realistic stories. Ms. Stokes discusses the type of Christian novel that is published and it is a conservative, evangelical book for the most part. Christian publishers may avoid a book that presents a different view of Christians from what they think is congruent with readers' values. Essentially, Ms. Stokes lets us know that there is a precise type of Christian fiction that most of the Christian publishers are looking for.
If you are trying to write and publish Christian fiction, this is a good learning tool for you. It was for me.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert Graves on October 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a terrific work. Ms. Stokes is an excellent writer and lucidly instructs the Christian on several relevant aspects of the CBA market. She presents the realities of being a Christian author and what the industry is like. She talks about very important issues the writer will have to face, but gives Christ-centered wisdom to help deal with them.
Of course you'll also find practical writing dealing with the craft itself - and I might add that whether you plan to write Christian fiction or not you will benefit from her teaching on these topics.
But what I found most enlightening was her insight into the Christian market... Genre definitions, what is popular now, writing proposals, etc.
A great book for the Christian novelist!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
My copy of this book is rapidly becoming dog-eared, as my favorite reference books always do. It includes information aimed specifically toward writers of Christian novels, but any novelist could benefit from its detailed and clear instruction on basics such as point-of-view, dialogue, and intelligent marketing. If every Christian novelist took this book seriously, the shelves at Christian bookstores might be filled with novels of high literary quality instead of the mediocre, preachy pap that, unfortunately, gives inspirational fiction a bad name. Reading this book might raise your personal standards for writing. It's a worthwhile investment for any aspiring novelist.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Crudup on October 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
"The Complete Guide to Writing & Selling the Christian Novel" is an excellent piece of expression. Dr. Penelope Stokes reveals the essence of spiritual and practical wisdom. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because she vividly painted a beautiful portrait of how "real" life is and how our characters should portray "real" people with "real" issues. Fiction is story-telling, not sermonizing. Dr. Stokes does an exceptional job in helping the aspiring author to disclose the loving nature and character of God without promoting "religious" prejudice. This instructional guide supports the idea that the attributes of God can be communicated through the lives of these true to life characters displayed in our novels. The wisdom displayed in Writing & Selling the Christian Novel is closely related to the wisdom of God revealed in the book of Esther. The texture of God's presence is imparted through this Bible book without any mention of His name. Dr. Stokes' writing teaches us that this precept can also be fundamentally accomplished through wonderful fiction. I highly recommend this piece to all aspiring Christian novelists who would focus on relationship instead of religion. Kudos!
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