Monday, January 19, 2015

Making Readers Think

Why do you write? A question often asked of writers. My answers are usually along the lines of: To tell a story, to give my readers an experience, to keep the stories of ancient saints from being lost. They must be reasonable answers— they've kept me at it for almost 35 years.

But one answer that had never occurred to me was "to make my readers think." Perhaps it sounded too didactic— too English teacherish (which I was).

Then a reader calling herself Flamingo Girl left this review for my Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail on Amazon: "I'm a big fan of historical fiction and this book delivers. It's a beautifully written book about the spread of Christianity through England focused on Glastonbury (obviously, lol). Despite the book's religious focus it is never preachy and the religious beliefs/quotes feel very organic to the story. You quickly come to care about each character and I found each story to be very inspiring. None of the characters are perfect but all come to God in their own way. As a spiritual but non religious person this book actually made me examine my own faith and deepened my own feelings about the Divine. I wasn't expecting that at all as I tend to be a bit jaded. I really liked this book and will reread it again in future. If you like historical fiction, Christian fiction, or just meaty well written books you can not go wrong with this book."

Wow! Of course, any 5 star review is a wow, but "never preachy. . .As a spiritual but non religious person this book actually made me examine my own faith and deepened my own feelings about the Divine" was more than I could have thought to ask for.

Of course, this isn't down to my goals— it's the work of the Holy Spirit, for which one can only say a heartfelt, "Thank you," but I find this review from an unknown reader has made me examine my own goals. It's also a lesson to me to be so very careful about what I write because the written word can be a powerful tool.

Now it's your turn: Why do you write?


Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, is the author of 43 books. She currently writes three mystery series: The Monastery Murders,The Elizabeth and Richard literary suspense series and the Lord Danvers Victorian true-crime novels.


  1. Looking forward to hearing why you write.

  2. Firstly, what a lovely, encouraging review to receive for that book, Donna! Surely that makes those 35 years of writing you have had so far feel so very worthwhile.

    Re why I write, hard to say it in brief format, but I think my simple answer would be to draw people closer to God in some way--which is what you seemed to manage with your Glastonbury book. Yes, I want them to enjoy the story and really care about the characters, but I want them to sense the presence of God too as they read and to deepen their own relationship with God in some way.

  3. Ohhh, "to sense the presence of God" What a wonderful goal, Jo-Anne!

  4. Can't help saying a prayer for Flamingo Girl that God would show her himself again and again until she can't stay away from him! I was so influenced by Aslan, who was not a tame lion, that I think my greatest goal is writing is for people to see Jesus in new ways. Both of my Glastonbury Grail books have surprised me with their visions of Christ. (Hopefully, like you without being preachy.)

  5. Interesting, LeAnne--you write for others to see Jesus in new ways and wind up doing so yourself! Our pastor always says he's preaching to himself an the rest of us are welcome to listen in.

  6. Hi Donna, Thanks for sharing your lovely review :) We may never know how our words can touch and inspire readers.