1. Great article, Gillian. I know this isn’t what you intended, but as I read your article, I had this huge desire to write the kind of story you were talking about. I especially love this line:

    A story that whispers the echoes of eternity is a tale that reflects truth.

    I don’t think I’d define a great story any differently than you did. Yes, it needs all the components of a compelling story, but the thing that separates it out is the truth that resonates within the soul of readers.

    I could be wrong, but I think we don’t see more great stories for two reasons:

    1. Christian writers limit the truth about which they write to the salvation message. Yes, “limit.” While salvation is the beginning of our life in Christ, there is a lot of Christian living that is part of God’s truth. On the other side, there are a lot of lies and roadblocks that confront a person outside the family of God, and I’m not sure we plummet the depth of those.
    2. Some Christian writers are so committed to reflecting truth that they forget to work on the other elements: creating engaging characters, strong plots, realistic settings.

    In short, as I read your article, I’m thinking, great stories are the total package, and that’s a lot harder to produce than what many may realize.

    BTW, I also love the Samwise quote! 😀




    • Writing this definitely inspired me to try and portray those echoes of eternity in my stories. I’m not there yet. I certainly wouldn’t classify anything I’ve written as worthy of being called a great story, but I intend to keep working at it until the keys fall off my keyboard.

      I think your reasons for why we don’t see more great stories are spot on. Couldn’t have put it any better! Many of the great stories I’ve read don’t have a clear Gospel presentation or even clear allegorical or symbolic elements, although some do. But that doesn’t mean the truth isn’t there.

      But when the truth outweighs the story, you wind up with a sermon or a poorly written novel. That I believe is what often leads to Christian fiction being labeled preachy and sub-par, and I find that very sad.

  2. Zac Totah says:

    An excellent post. I couldn’t agree more with the conclusions you came to. The best stories ever told are the ones that reflect in some way the Greatest Story. I think even unbelievers have a sense of this, even if they don’t attribute the reason to the one “True Myth,” as Tolkien put it. How else do you explain the popularity of LoTR, for example? Readers need not be Christians to experience that type of resonance, they just don’t see the deeper truth behind it.
    The C.S. Lewis quote from Weight of Glory reminded me of his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, in which he speaks of the same concept, that stab of unexplained longing, which he termed Joy.
    Thanks for your article. Like Becky, now I feel a burning desire to write a story that is infused with those soft echoes of eternity.

    •  I think even unbelievers have a sense of this, even if they don’t attribute the reason to the one “True Myth,” as Tolkien put it.

      Zac, I think you’re absolutely correct. And that’s what so glorious about it!

      I actually just ordered Surprised by Joy. I’ve only read snippets of it here and there, but  I’ve been wanting to read the whole thing for some time. I look forward to digging into it.

      • Zac Totah says:

        Have fun! It’s an awesome and fascinating book. One of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read.

  3. Kessie says:

    I think that’s why I enjoy speculative as much as I do–it’s easier to find little glimpses of the sublime when you’re dealing with fairies and dragons. Not to say it isn’t in other genres, too! I love books where the hero goes up against something unexpectedly wonderful, like the city magic in The Magic Thief, orwhen Frodo encounters Galadriel. It’s those bits of delight that make me read the book over and over. Or the desperately sad and wonderful ending of Dogsbody. Or the moments in the Temeraire books when the dragon and his captain interact with such tenderness. Yeah, someday I want to move readers like that.

  4. Galadriel says:

    It’s interesting you would bring that up, because I’ve been thinking about the “epic” or “mythic” element of a story. I was reading  the Doll’s House volume of the Sandman graphic novel, and it’s very dark, very despairing in places–but there’s this moment where the title character shows up–he’s not nice, not at all…but…like, there’s something in that moment that speaks to me.

What do you think?