Week of May 7: To Show and To Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction by Phillip Lopate

As you dive into “To Show and To Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction” by Phillip Lopate, you’ll discover valuable insights into the art of storytelling that you can apply to your own Christian non-fiction writing. By honing your craft, you can engage your readers on an emotional level, inspiring them to make lasting changes in their lives.

Here are three primary takeaways from Lopate’s book that can help you achieve this goal, each supported by biblical passages.

Takeaway #1: The Power of Authenticity

In Lopate’s book, you’ll learn the importance of authenticity in literary nonfiction. By being genuine and honest in your writing, you’ll connect with your readers and encourage them to be true to themselves and their faith.

Consider these biblical passages to support this takeaway:

  • Proverbs 12:22: “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.”
    This verse emphasizes the importance of honesty in the eyes of God. By being truthful in your writing, you’ll not only honor God but also inspire your readers to be honest and authentic in their lives.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:12: “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.”
    In this passage, Paul highlights the value of sincerity in the way we conduct ourselves. By writing with sincerity, you can model this virtue for your readers and encourage them to approach their lives with a genuine heart.
  • 1 Peter 3:16: “Having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
    By being authentic and transparent in your writing, you’ll demonstrate your integrity, even in the face of criticism. This can inspire your readers to hold onto their faith and live with a clear conscience, knowing that their actions align with their beliefs.

Takeaway #2: The Art of Storytelling

Lopate’s book emphasizes the importance of effective storytelling in literary nonfiction. By weaving engaging narratives that resonate with your readers, you can help them better understand and apply biblical principles in their lives.

Consider these biblical passages to support this takeaway:

  • Matthew 13:34: “All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable, He did not speak to them.”
    Jesus often used stories to communicate spiritual truths to His listeners. By following His example and incorporating stories into your writing, you can make complex ideas more accessible and relatable to your readers.
  • Proverbs 1:6: “To understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.
    In this verse, Solomon acknowledges the value of storytelling in conveying wisdom. By employing narrative techniques, you can engage your readers’ imaginations and help them grasp deeper spiritual insights.
  • Hebrews 10:24: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”
    Sharing stories of faith, love, and good works in your writing can inspire your readers to embrace these virtues in their own lives. By using storytelling to illustrate these principles, you’ll motivate your readers to put their faith into action.

Takeaway #3: The Importance of Reflection

Lopate’s book also highlights the value of reflection in literary nonfiction. By inviting your readers to pause and consider the implications of your writing, you can help them internalize your message and apply it to their lives.

Consider these biblical passages to support this takeaway:

  • 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”
    In this passage, Paul encourages self-examination and reflection. By incorporating moments of reflection in your writing, you can guide your readers towards a deeper understanding of their faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • Psalm 119:15: “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways.”
    The psalmist emphasizes the importance of meditating on God’s teachings. By inviting your readers to reflect on the biblical principles you present in your writing, you can help them internalize these truths and apply them in their lives.
  • Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
    Paul reminds us to focus our thoughts on virtuous and praiseworthy subjects. By encouraging your readers to reflect on the positive and uplifting aspects of your writing, you can inspire them to cultivate a mindset that fosters personal growth and spiritual transformation.

“To Show and To Tell” by Phillip Lopate offers valuable guidance for Christian non-fiction authors looking to emotionally impact their readers and inspire positive change in their lives.

By embracing the power of authenticity, mastering the art of storytelling, and emphasizing the importance of reflection, you can create compelling narratives that resonate with your readers and encourage them to live out their faith with confidence and purpose. Keep these biblical passages in mind as you write, and trust that God will use your words to touch the hearts and lives of those who read them.

Want to become a better writer without writing a word? Joing my Read-A-Book-Each-Week Challenge!


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