What are Your Favorite Plots?

I’m kicking off my monthly theme a day early. August will be all about plot as we continue with this year’s theme of “The Journey of a Book”. So what are your favorite plots? By that I mean, what kind of plots usually hook you so that you have to give a book or movie a try? If you love romance, maybe you enjoy the enemies-to-lovers trope. Or perhaps a Cinderella story appeals to you.

Of course, I love mysteries, but specifically, traditional mysteries, in which I can solve the mystery along with the main character. I’m also very susceptible to underdog stories. It doesn’t matter who the underdog is. If the odds are stacked against him or her, I automatically start rooting for the character. I also love caper stories, ones in which a band of bad guys, or sometimes good guys, form a team to pull of some kind of heist. If the team is made of bad guys, then during or after the heist usually Something Goes Horribly Wrong and the team scrambles to survive.

My kids and I have been enjoying the ’60’s spy show, Mission: Impossible which is often about the good guys pulling a caper on a despicable bad guy.

For more plotting prompts, click here.

Now I’d like to know what are your favorite plots?

Christian Fiction for Boys and Men

If you look at the novels in Christian fiction, you get the impression that Christian males are illiterate. So many of the genres are aimed at women: women’s fiction, contemporary romance, historical romance, amish romance and just to change things up, romantic suspense. As a mother of sons, I was pleased to discover the books by James R. Hannibal, Christian fiction for boys and men. But don’t take my word for it. My oldest is providing his recommendations today for just a few of Mr. Hannibal’s books.

Section 13–Middle grade series

The Lost Property Office, The Fourth Ruby, and The Clockwork Dragon

Jack Buckles is a tracker and member of the Ministry of Trackers. He and his fellow trackers use their special powers to protect the world from ancient artifacts and defeat those who seek to use them.

“I like this series because of the elaborate world-building and the various surprising twists. This is also one the few series with teenage protagonists that I have been able to stand.”

Lightraider Academy–Teen series

Wolf Soldier and Bear Knight

Connor Enarian and his fellow Lightraiders work to defeat the evil dragons who intend to enslave humanity and conquer the world of Dastan.

“I like this series because of the complex plots and well-developed world as well as the Christian themes it contains. I was able to make connections between the themes and my Bible study in youth group. This is also one the few series with teenage protagonists that I can stand.”

Talia Inger Novels–Adult series

The Gryphon Heist and Chasing the White Lion

Talia Inger and Eddie Gupta are CIA agents. Together with a mysterious man named Adam Tyler, they recruit a team of elite thieves to commit a high stakes heist with the fate of America hanging in the balance.

“I like this series because of the very complex plots as well as the surprising twists the books contain. These keep the reader wanting to know what happens next.”

Elysium Tide–Adult standalone

Neurosurgeon Dr. Peter Chesterfield, while on a forced vacation, finds himself entangled in a series of mysterious events related to the growing gangs on the island of Maui.

“This book is excellent because of the unique structure and surprising twists as well as the unique and entertaining characters.”

My oldest is now a one-man, James R. Hannibal fan club. He’s converted two of my nephews into fans and he’s working on his friends at school.

To learn about other Christian fiction authors, click here.

What Christian fiction for men and boys do you recommend?

Help Me Finish This Poem of Faith

While I was biking one morning, the lines of a poem began forming in my head. The first lines can take the poem in several directions, and I thought it would be fun for you to help me finish this poem of faith.

I’ll give you the first two lines and then you can take it from there and add your lines in the comments.

Each bud sings of your glory.

Each blade holds your commands.

For more poetry prompts, click here. You’ll find more Christian fiction posts here.

How to Weave Themes into Christian Fiction

YA Christian author M. Liz Boyle is back to describe how to weave themes in Christian fiction. This is a critical skill for writers of Christian fiction. If we’re too subtle, readers don’t notice the theme. If we’re heavy-handed, it reads like a sermon with a few fictional characters. So glad to have Liz share her experience with this technique.

Writing Christian fiction has many merits and can be done in many ways. From fantasy and allegory to historical fiction that explores the lives of Biblical characters, Christian fiction comes in many forms. In the contemporary Christian fiction stories I write for young adults, I seek to honor God and Christ by including two main elements:

A Biblically-based theme that the characters learn

Whether it’s a specific verse, such as pressing toward the prize of the upward call of God, or a broader theme, such as the Golden Rule, I aim for my characters to be impacted with a theme which readers can glean too. A way that I include Biblical themes is to challenge my main character with the opposite of the theme she will learn. For instance, in my book Ablaze, the main character Marlee learns about forgiveness. She learns how to forgive when she endures a few situations that make forgiveness difficult. Meanwhile, a secondary character extends forgiveness to Marlee, which shows her how to forgive the characters who have hurt her. This journey really shapes who Marlee is by the end of the story, and readers who are also learning about forgiveness can relate to Marlee’s character arc. This leads into the second element I like to include in Christian fiction:

Characters whose faith is strengthened throughout the story

As a teen and now as an adult, I want to read about characters who are like me – already a Christian, but not perfect by any means. Salvation stories in which a character resists God’s call throughout the story and eventually chooses to become a Christian definitely have their place, but I also think there’s a need for stories that show how Christians live out their faith in the day-to-day. How do characters handle life’s stressors? How do characters change and grow over the course of the book? In fiction and in real life, our experiences help shape who we are. Hopefully in the course of our lives, our faith grows stronger. I like to reflect this in fictional characters. Similar to what I described in the first element, we can challenge the main character’s faith throughout the book to eventually strengthen her faith by the end of the story. For instance, if the main character is a believer, but her trust in God has been jaded by life’s harshness, I’ll have her go through trials and conversations that prompt her to keep clinging to and trusting God. My hope is that readers will be encouraged in their own faith when they see my characters press on in their Christian faith and eventually reap blessings.

Thank you for having me on your blog, JPC Allen! Writers, I hope you find these descriptions helpful as you write Christian fiction. What other pointers do you have? Readers, what are your favorite aspects of Christian fiction?   

To read more of Liz’s guest blogs, click here.


off the itinerary

Adventurous teenager Marlee Stanley has a knack for finding herself in natural disasters with her sisters and the Miles boys. When their adventures take a turn for the worse, will Marlee cave under pressure, or will her faith in God be strong enough to guide her to safety? Check out the books on Amazon!


M. Liz Boyle

Liz is the author of the Off the Itinerary series, the wife of a professional tree climber, and the homeschooling mom of three energetic and laundry-producing children. Liz once spent a summer in Colorado teaching rock climbing, which she believes was a fantastic way to make money and memories. She resides with her family in Wisconsin, where they enjoy hiking and rock climbing. Liz and her husband have also backpacked in Colorado and the Grand Canyon, which have provided inspiration for her writing. She makes adventurous stories to encourage others to find adventures and expand their comfort zones (though admittedly, she still needs lots of practice expanding her own comfort zone). Follow Liz on her websiteFacebookInstagramGoodReads, and BookBub.

Who Do You Identify With From the Bible?

With so many different kinds of people represented, who do you identify with from the Bible? When I first considered this question many years ago, the first person who popped to my mind was Saul. Not Apostle Paul, but crazy, old King Saul. I understood perfectly how insecure he felt. He let that insecurity create panic, which caused him to sin stupidly. Then he’d panic again and sin even more stupidly.

I was pretty depressed with my identifiction. Then one morning, while I was walking, Gideon came to mind. He was timid like Saul, but his story is one of triumph (Judges 6-8). What I love about Gideon’s story is that God chooses him to drive out oppressive raiders while he was still timid. God’s message comes to Gideon as he’s hiding in a winepress, trying to thresh wheat in secret so the raiders won’t take the food. But because God knows what Gideon can do if he relies on Him, so He picks Gideon. I also take a lot of comfort in the fact that when Gideon is unsure of God’s message and himself, God shows great kindness in His reassurance. Once Gideon has that, he’s all in for God’s plan.

For more Christian fiction prompts, click here.

Who do you identify with from the Bible?

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