The Art of Surprise

Lots of beginning writers pen stories with surprise endings. Surprise! your quirky narrator was actually a bowling pin . . . Surprise! they were on Mars the whole time! . . . Surprise! This is such a ubiquitous phenomenon that books on the craft perennially warn against using such trickery. Jerome Stern gives precisely this […]

Show, Don’t Tell: Good Friday and the Power of Story

One of the key components to writing successful creative literature—poetry, drama, fiction, even creative nonfiction—is specificity. There’s a long history of evidence for this. And some of the most compelling evidence, maybe surprisingly, is theological. Stay with me. Concrete, sensory specificity is particularly important—appealing to the senses, to the physicality of our human natures. That’s […]

Children’s Literature and Hope

My wife and I recently sat down with Shel Silverstein’s enchanting, odd, contemporary classic, Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974). Multiple generations of children now have been captivated by this quirky, deceptively simple, sometimes elusive but sometimes unashamedly straightforward collection of poems and drawings. The book in fact—like its descendents, A Light in the Attic and […]

HP Lovecraft and Christian Thought

It seemed fitting at this time of year to take up a literary subject that’s often understandably—though I think unfortunately—neglected entirely by Christians: Horror fiction. I’m immediately aware of some well-founded hesitations that probably just sprang to many people’s minds. But I hope after a little digging and clarifying, some profound points of contact between two […]