Every book has a message. It does not matter if you are writing non-fiction or fiction. Every story has a purpose, and every paper has a thesis. If your book lacks intent, you probably need to stop where you are and ask yourself why you are writing that story.
Frequently, authors will write a message that is popular at the moment. Finances are the target of such storylines. You can see this with both fiction and self-help books. Whatever genre or sub-genre is hot will see a considerable uptick. Within a few months, or even weeks, the texts will start to all sound the same as writers going for the green rehash a previous tale and change their prose just enough to avoid plagiarism.
The best books you can write are the ones from your heart or soul. These are the messages that reflect what you truly believe. It can be an autobiography, a short story, or even a series. Whatever it takes to share what you have learned or are in the process of learning.
Over a decade ago, I had a story about an orphan who had this incredible temper that got him into trouble. His story was a journey of self-discovery. Looking back at my original idea, I honestly cringe. It was so soft and pointless.
I received clarity one night while watching the evening news during the peak of ISIS’s control over most of Syria and Iraq. The news show told the story of a small enclave of Christians surviving under ISIS rule. Many of their friends and family had been tortured and martyred at the hands of ISIS.
The reporter asked one of the men if they were angry about their situation. The man responded by stating that they trusted in Jesus and like Jesus forgave them, so they forgave the ISIS members who had brought so much horror into their village.
Baffled, I stared at my television in disbelief. These were people who had seen loved ones tortured to death. I felt immense conviction because of the personal rage that remained inside me from the terror attacks on the U.S.
I had volunteered to help my employer reconnect their Wall Street systems during the week of 9/11. I sat in daily meetings listening to death tolls, tales of heroism, and scenes of carnage. It was all very top secret, and most of the information would not become public for many years to follow. That meant I could not talk to anyone about the things I heard inside that meeting room.
I took that information and buried it inside. I let my anger towards those responsible burn a black hole in my soul. When my kids joined the military and ultimately ended up in the middle east, I often joked about wanting them to bring me back an Al Qaida or ISIS head put on a spike.
So, I sat there in my chair, listening to a brother in Christ act as a Christian should. Gut punched, questions began to form. Is pacifism always the answer, and what are the consequences of accepting brutality or striking out against it?
Ultimately, we need to forgive our worst enemies or our justice becomes vengeance. At the same time, we have to forgive ourselves for those times forgiveness seems far away from our hearts, and accept Christ’s complete forgiveness that heals our soul. If we do not, we become judgemental and ultimately end up acting like the very people we have grown to hate.
When I was forced into medical retirement and began writing the Berserker Series, I knew these were the questions and answers I needed to address. For my books, I decided to use three characters in three stories to come at these questions from three different perspectives. As many authors before me have said, “My books have been a wonderful source of therapy.”
Let me encourage you. If you want to write and are trying to figure out a worthy topic, find something in your life that you have struggled with or perhaps are still struggling.
These themes are what make writing worthwhile and reading worth reading. Do not worry if your views or ideas might offend someone. Honestly, if we are not offended by something we read, it wasn’t exciting. Not every story should be rainbows and lollipops. So, challenge yourself, and challenge your readers.