Storytelling is powerful. A good story captures the imagination and reaches the heart if it resonates with the reader.
The temptation I have as a writer (and teacher) is to give a solid message and hammer it home with enthusiasm. My obsession is to write and teach. The tension is in how to tell stories without preaching.
I need to write in such a way that gives value beyond any message. It needs to add value to a person's day. They need to feel inspired, entertained, moved and involved in the story for as long as it takes them to read it. They don't want me giving them a lesson. They want a few hours of escape into another world.
My goal is to write stories that function as more than a vehicle to push my own agenda. Stories that remind the reader of beauty, inspire them to relate to others better, to connect them to a time and place and give them vicarious experiences they can relate to. That's the sort of story I want to write.
Religion creates vivid stories that speak to people's hearts and souls. At the heart of all religions there is a meta-story filled with beautiful imagery in prose and poetry. As readers, or followers, we are drawn to be a part of the story and belong.
Stories don't always appeal to our rational selves, they appeal to our emotions.
I want the reader to feel inspired and to connect with God, but my writing is poorer if all I do is give a lesson. I want readers to look at my characters with the same emotional care and passion as I do. I want them to resonate with the characters' lives and to think about what their own lives could be.
We all need role models and I want the reader to get the most out of their own lives. Hopefully, the stories I write will be a tiny part of that process.
I want my characters to have courage and guts, to be fun, honest and genuine. I want readers to see that just as the characters are on a journey of discovery, so too are they. A book ends, but lives go on.
If I can get someone to read my book and enjoy it, I have achieved success. Even if just one phrase from a three hundred-page book helps someone on their journey or inspires them in some way, that is the icing on the cake.