By Teena Myers
The intent of rules is to make our writing easy to read and understand. But if we want our writing to live in the minds and hearts of readers we should not let rules keep us from being creative. The Left Behind books not only broke the rules of writing, they launched a new set of rules and became the most popular Christian fiction series in our generation.
According to Christianity Today
“The book launched a series that launched a marketing empire that launched a new set of rules for Christian fiction. The series spent a total of 300 weeks–nearly as long as the Tribulation it dramatized–on The New York Times’ bestseller list.” (Christianity Today, July 25, 2016)
When Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins discussed writing a fiction book about the rapture of the church, Jenkin’s asked who would be the target audience. Christians who would be encouraged, or the people LaHaye wanted to persuade?
LaHaye said “Both”
Jenkins replied, “A double-minded book is unstable in all its ways” and encouraged him to choose one.
LaHaye insisted the book address both. Jenkins agreed to write what he thought would be one book, believing he could change LaHaye’s mind later. But he never did. That forced Jenkins to break the rules of “good writing” and become creative.
Jenkins explained how he overcame writing a book that would, according to the experts, be unstable, In Writing for the Soul
“The key in writing Left Behind for an audience of believers as well as doubters and the uninitiated was to portray credible characters who represented opposing viewpoints. I included atheists, agnostics, doubters, the puzzled, the angry. I wanted characters anyone could identify with. And not all those characters came to see things my way, just as I knew that not all readers would.”
The majority of experts agree that you should write to a single audience, but sometimes the experts are wrong. Within a few years after Left Behind was released, it averaged more than a quarter million in sales a month. The Left Behind series of 12 books, 3 prequels and the spin off kid’s series has earned more than 100 million dollars.