Thursday, April 17, 2014

Whose agenda are you writing anyway??

What our fiction shouldn't do....
Pick a "big" social item that has varying opinions...

Pre-marital Sex...
Gun Control...
Same-Sex Marriage...
Global Warming (or newly called, climate change)...

The list is a long one.

And occasionally, there is a particular issue you feel passionate about and want to incorporate into your fiction to spread your heart-felt opinion.

But how do you do it? And SHOULD you do it?

There is no right or wrong answer. In fact, the idea of "agenda" driven fiction is another one of those items that have various opinions. Strong opponents say you annoy readers by writing only with your own agenda in mind. Strong proponents say that important issues shouldn't be ignored in fiction.

So what do you do?

The below is MY opinion, so you can officially call this an "agenda" driven blog today, I guess.

The purpose of an "agenda" is to sway people to your opinion.

The purpose of "fiction" is to tell a story.

So the definition of "agenda fiction" is to tell a story with the goal of swaying people's opinion.

The problem with this is chances are, the majority if not all of your readers will end up being people who agree with you. And the people who don't are likely strong in their belief in the opposite, which won't encourage them to read more of your books or tell others to read them.

And still others will be annoyed that you've used your story to beat them over the head with your agenda.

So you've written a book few will read, many will hate and your goal will remain unaccomplished.

Not really productive, if you ask me.

So what's the answer?

What our stories should do.... well... kinda
or me, as a follower of Christ, I've chosen to write what I call "Missional" fiction. No clue if this is a true definition, because I just made it up and liked it. :-)

The definition of "mission" is a task or job you've been given. For me, I take my direction from Jesus Christ.

So my missional fiction is accomplishing the job or task God has given me through story.

This is broad. And I like that.

Basically, I want to spread GOD'S agenda, not mine. And I want to do it in a way that's natural.

When a missionary goes to a foreign country, they don't go and stand on a soap box and yell their message to the locals. No, they get their hands dirty. They provide food and water and supplies. They build schools, orphanages, churches. They learn the language and live life with those they are trying to show God's love to.

Our stories should show God's agenda in a similar way.

As authors we use our characters to invite our readers into their life. Through fiction, they live life together. Experience highs and lows, fears and failures, successes and triumphs. They struggle with sins together, with forgiveness, with grace.

Jesus used the power of story heavily in his ministry.

I think we absolutely can follow in His footsteps... if we do it in a way that is wise and helpful, not reckless and arrogant.

Discussion: How do you weave a spiritual theme in your books? Do you struggle with wanting to put an "agenda" in them or do you avoid at all costs? 

(pictures courtesy of

Krista is a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, and author of Sandwich, With a Side of Romance . She blogs about finding JOY in the journey of LIFE at She is represented by Rachelle Gardner.


Julia M. Reffner said...

Amen! Pet peeve for sure and I love your term of missional fiction. Never heard it but I think I will use it now too with full credit to Krista Phillips of course.

Anonymous said...

Loved this post, Krista. I love the idea of weaving spiritual truths into my stories, rather than trying to push my agenda.

I often use Susan May Warren's Lie Journey truth journey to share the spiritual truths of the story. Since it weaves into who the character is, it seems like it comes off more naturally. I think anyway. :)

Krista Phillips said...

LOL, Julia, no credit needed:-)

Krista Phillips said...

Jeanne, Thanks :-)

I've only taken SMW classes at ACFW, but have heard of her lie journey before! It's definitely a way to incorporate these truths.

Anjanette said...

Love this. Thank you! I think about this a lot. Even with my non-fiction writings I find that a little bit of relate-ability goes a long way toward persuasion. If I'm not writing technically with just the cold hard facts, I get the most response when I write in a way that humbly challenges readers to think about the issue for themselves, rather than insists that they *must* agree with me. That's really difficult when you feel strongly about something, but I love that you brought out that we can let God have the ultimate control over what we share AND how others respond to it.