Saturday, June 29, 2013

Thoughts on Being a Christian Writer: Letters and Life by Bret Lott

Brett Lott makes no bones about being a Christian writer. He begins the first essay by reciting the Apostles' Creed. However, the book is more than a presentation of his faith, it is also a treasure trove of thoughts on what it means to be a writer.

The first five essays cover topics ranging from a discussion of literary fiction to thoughts on precision in writing to an essay on Flannery O'Connor. My favorite was the discussion of precision in writing. As Lott points out, it's a difficult concept to articulate, but I found by the end I had a better grasp of what it means to write with precision. I particularly enjoyed his example of precise writing in the Bible, Judges 3:12-26, in which Ehud kills Eglon, king of Moab. I had read the passage before but completely missed the reference to Eglon's bowels letting loose after Ehud stuck his sword through his belly. The smell made the guards think that Eglon was relieving himself and therefore didn't disturb him and Ehud got away. It's a small detail, but it makes the picture of the assassination very real.

The essay on Flannery O'Connor is also a favorite. Using her life and words as an illustration, Lott discusses the importance of the story more than the prestige of the author. Too often, writers crave fame and their desire to tell a story becomes secondary.

The final section is about Lott's life. He begins to tell the story after the death of his father. Losing a father is never easy. It makes you reflect on life: what was and will never be again.

I recommend this book for Christian writers, but it also provides thought provoking concepts for anyone who hopes to write meaningful fiction.

I reviewed this book for Crossway.