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A Novel Idea: Best Advice on Writing Inspirational Fiction Paperback – November 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (November 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414329946
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414329949
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,261,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of fourteen historical romance, suspense, and contemporary novels including Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, Chateau of Secrets, and The Courier of Caswell Hall. Chateau of Secrets received a Carol Award in 2015 for historical fiction, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with Jon's work, the Dobson family has finally settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to travel and hike in both the mountains and the cliffs above the Pacific. When Melanie isn't writing, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, line dancing, and reading stories with her kids.

More information about Melanie and her books is available at:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Chad Estes on December 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
Tyndale has recently published a great reference book for those inclined to write Christian fiction. If you've perused the sections in a Christian bookstore you will find many shelves devoted to this writing. If you venture into a mainstream bookstore you even will find many of the same books in stock. Unfortunately, if you've picked them up you may have been disappointed with the story telling. Just because someone has added God content to their pages doesn't mean that the book is worth reading. Honestly, some of the worst books I've ever read fit into this genre. It seems too easy to give an author an easy pass on their writing just because their characters go to church, make good decisions, and don't have premarital relations or affairs. Maybe Tyndale published this book hoping to get a better quality of writing into the field. If so, good for them!

A Novel Idea is a collection of advice from "Top Selling, Inspirational Authors" including Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, Randy Alcorn, Terri Blackstock, Robin Jones Gunn, Jerry Jenkins, and Angela Hunt. There are other Christian fiction writers that I wish had been included in this book based on their quality of writing, but I digress.

Part one of the book covers the "Fundamentals of Fiction" with chapters on plot, characters, dialogue, point of view, pacing, setting, and descriptions.

Part two covers, "Developing Your Craft" with chapters on preparation, the discipline of writing, finding your voice, writing with expression, and handling rejection.

The third section specifically covers the areas of discerning your calling and the distinctives of Christian fiction.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C.J. Darlington on December 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've read scores of books on the craft of writing, and I've learned from them all. But even though Christian fiction is one of the fastest growing segments in the market today, there have been few exhaustive manuals on writing in this genre. A Novel Idea, written by dozens of best-selling authors, is a timely and much-needed handbook.

The techniques of writing dialogue, creating suspense, and plotting stories are the same across genres, but some don't realize Christian fiction is not just fiction minus swear words and sex scenes. In her essay "Writing to Change Lives" Karen Kingsbury says, "For me, Christ is the story. He is not a patch to add into my plot, or a marketing ploy. The world can write about the physical, intellectual, and emotional aspects of people. So can we. Ah, but we also can tell about the spiritual--and the story is nothing without that piece. We are the most blessed of all writers because we are called to tell the whole story."

Subjects like how writing can be a ministry and a profession as well as what makes Christian fiction Christian aren't found in A Novel Idea's secular counterparts. And sometimes when reading general market writing books, it can feel like searching for a diamond in a dung hill as you wade through dirty examples and four letter words. It's refreshing to read articles that unashamedly share Scripture alongside the poignant advice, as well as tried and true techniques.

From the fundamentals of description, characters, setting, and point of view to more in depth subjects like writing proposals and synopses, A Novel Idea guides us through the winding streets of the writing journey. Noteworthy stops include Angela Hunt's "Plot Skeleton" which shares in detail her technique for building a book from the bones up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lori on January 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
I love, love, love this book! I have had this for months now and have read and re-read it, highlighting and underlining as I go. This will be a book I reference frequently and keep close to hand. I've been so busy dissecting this book, that somehow I never got around to reviewing it until now! Crazy, I know.

Opinions are often different, methods often vary, and even the answer to what makes a Christian book Christian differs. And this is exactly what I love about this book. There is so much to learn from different authors. One method may not fit your personal style, another may. One tip may leave you scratching your head but the next has you nodding your head and frantically underlining and taking notes.

Topics include pre-writing, outlining, character development, writing plot twists, great settings, dialogue, etc.- pretty much every topic you can think of that pertains to fiction writing. One of my favorite chapters was written by an author whose book I had read previously and found to be just so-so. After reading her excellent advice, I am wanting to try another book of hers and see if the last was just a fluke.

After sharing general writing tips, the sections move into writing disciplines, finding your "voice", handling rejection, etc. and then various perspectives on fiction and Christianity. It winds up by discussing publishing, networking, and marketing.

A Novel Idea is a gold mine of information and perspectives and I highly recommend it to Christian authors or wanna-be Christian authors like myself.
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