Make Your Ideas Run the Vetting Gauntlet
In Monday’s post, Debbie expertly helped us identify sources for ideas. Wednesday, Katy helped us with the selection process with insights to help us evaluate the ideas as Lambs or Tygers. Today we’ll look at the vetting process.
In his business, my husband often vets potential employees. He looks at each one’s experience and abilities and salary requirements, and from those he determines if that interviewee is a good “fit” for his company.
In the same way, authors must vet ideas after they’ve been collected and evaluated. For a writer who is a Christian and/or someone who writes fiction which can be classified as Christian, this vetting of ideas must precede the actual writing.
(Let me interject here that a book or proposal will later again undergo a tango of vetting as the author searches for a potential agent or publisher. Once under consideration, an acquisitions editor and committee will vet the novel to determine if the “fit” is right there. But for this discussion, the vetting under consideration is the author’s vetting of her ideas.)
Here are some questions that can help an author vet potential ideas:
1) (I know I harp on this but this question is essential): Have I been called by God to write for publication? Am I sure writing this idea isn’t just for ego, to earn extra money, to cash in on a current trend?
2) Do I have something to say? Is this subject going to enhance anyone’s relationship with God, provoke self-examination, foster understanding, advance the reputation of the Lord Jesus, bring about peace and/or necessary change? (If your goal is to simply entertain the reader without using dirty words, perhaps you should do further evaluation.)
3) Do I have what it takes to stand behind this idea? If it’s controversial or stimulating or provocative – and all Christian writing should be at least two of the three of these – can I defend this idea as being true in an eternal sense?
4) Do I have, or am I willing to get training and feedback to acquire, the writing skills sufficient to write this so that it will bring glory to and not detract from the name of God?
5) Is this idea important enough that I am willing to write it in such a way as to disappear behind the idea?
6) Is this idea authentic in that it’s true to my experience (in other words, do I have the authority to write this)? Alternately, am I willing to faithfully research the topic if it is not completely my expertise?
7) Is this idea authentic to the reader – can I write it in such a way that it will resound with the reader?
8) Is this idea authentic to Scripture (which is the ultimate arbiter of authenticity both in the author and the reader)?
9) Would the world congratulate this idea? Why or why not?
Do you have other questions that should be on this list?
I know that some of my questions may seem harsh. But think how different the impact and reputation of Christian novels would have with the world, if no idea in the mind of a Christian writer would be published without passing through such a vetting gauntlet.