Do you like unwelcome surprises in a book?

Not me! I don’t like “bait and switch” stories.

I want to know what I’m buying, and how I’ll invest many hours spent reading. Writers need to remember a reader’s time is valuable too.

So when I begin to read a book of fiction, and about midway through, the author peppers it with quotes from a religious or political affiliation meant to proselytize me, I feel mislead.

When we choose a book to read, it is because of the promises made and tone is set by the writer.

A twist in a thriller or a who-done-it is fun but not really unexpected. 

So what got my panties in a knot? I began reading a book that hooked me from the git go but about a quarter in, the teenager protagonist and his new girlfriend began quoting scriptures on their first date.

Now I knew this author had some religious based books listed on his Author Page, but this book was not referred to as “Christian Fiction or Christian Theme.” No, it was described as a “YA Thriller.” Now I’m debating whether I want to finish reading the book. Yes, the story and the writing are really good, but with each passing page, I brace myself for another sermon.

Now don’t go grabbing the pitchforks just yet. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for a character’s faith or beliefs to show up in a book. For a character to be well-rounded, he has to believe in something, and showing those beliefs in the story is important. But how many teenagers do you know quote scriptures to each other on a date? Give me a break.

I feel the same way about “Political Thrillers.” I want to know which way the author leans before I select his book. After all, the book is supposed to be fiction, not fact. What I don’t want is to feel beat up because my political beliefs do not line up with the authors. If I want to learn, grow or even challenge my beliefs, whatever they may be, I’ll turn to the non-fiction section.

Good grief, we’re being lambasted every day on TV, radio and social media attempting to sway us to one side or the other. I read fiction to escape.

I understand there are dozens of religions and several political parties and Amazon would find it a daunting process to provide a category for each. However, an author can and should, in my opinion, use the book description area to inform the reader how they will be investing their time and money. (Oh, by the way, there is a sub-genre listing for Christian Genre under Literary.)

Writing fiction is an art. As artistic a process as painting. The artist should feel free to express their feelings and beliefs into that art. And yes, most fiction has a moral hidden somewhere within the plot. But I believe fiction should be written for the reader’s enjoyment, not their conversion. 

So for the love of all, please don’t try to sneak one over on the reader. If you are proud of your beliefs, state them up front in the book description and trust the reader to choose to read your book. 

A couple of good articles await your click. Keep reading…

Should We Label Christian Fiction? By Rachelle Gardner


Do Religion and Faith Belong in Fiction? By Beth Hill

Okay. Has a book turned you off because of a “surprise” in the middle?

What do you think about letting readers know what to expect?

I’d love to hear from you! Click the “write me” tab or contact me on Twitter @jeancogdell,Facebook at jean.cogdell and, stop by and say hey! The lights are on, and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps and Facebook fans.

The More You Write, the More Ideas You’ll Have

Good point, guess I need to write more.

Where to start, ABC… abc girl-160166_640

Y’all read on…

by Millie Ho I used to think that I would run out of ideas if I wrote too much. This fear drained my ability to write at times. But it made sense, right? Your mind can only generate so much …

Source: The More You Write, the More Ideas You’ll Have

Do you get more ideas the more you write?

Or do you find ideas come when you take a break from writing?

Tell me, I’d love to know!

Click the “write me” tab or contact me on Twitter @jeancogdell,Facebook at jean.cogdell and, stop by and say hey! The lights are on, and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps and Facebook fans.

It’s exciting to discover that you’re not alone

That’s how I felt after reading other writers also have trouble describing scenes.

purple balloon-303733_640Read many of my posts? Then you know I struggle with descriptions. My writing will either be as stark and sterile as a surgical suite or purple as a five-year-old little girls birthday party. Purple prose everywhere! purple balloon-303733_640purple balloon-303733_640

My critique partner and sister is great at writing beautiful descriptions that put you right in the middle of a scene. (check out Sheila at Cow Pasture Chronicles.) But if I try to write like her, I sound like Eddie Haskell on Leave it to Beaver. Just too much.

Believe me, I’ve studied every self-help book on the market. And some have helped. My favorites are the ones by  Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. Like:

The Rural Setting ThesaurusThe Urban Setting Thesaurus, and The Emotion Thesaurus, plus there are several more. Be sure and check them out for really good tips on descriptions. Links at the bottom of this post

Now back to the post that gave me hope! Click and Read!!!

by Phoebe Quinn

The world is pretty visual, but I’m not. Despite my insistence that, if I had to choose, I’d rather lose my hearing than my sight, I’ve never been able to work in a visual wa…

Source: 7 Ways to Write Visually (Without Describing Everything)

I do hope you hopped over and read Phoebe’s post and realized that we don’t have to describe every grain of sand or blade of grass to engage our readers. That often less is more!

Let me know what you think.

Do you have trouble striking a balance with describing a scene or emotion?

Are you a very visual person?

Do you have a trick that helps writer like myself? Do share!

The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Personal and Natural Places by [Ackerman, Angela, Puglisi, Becca]    The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by [Ackerman, Angela, Puglisi, Becca]   Product DetailsEmotion Amplifiers by [Ackerman, Angela, Puglisi, Becca]

Click on image to read FREE book preview!