John David Kudrick

putting words to work for you

Tag: stories (page 1 of 3)

“Broken people with deep wounds …”

Great line that echoes an idea I continue to share with authors wanting to craft novels with visceral characters who are more than cardboard clichés (since none of us are):


The older I get, the more I’ve come to understand that there are no real villains, only broken people with deep wounds who cannot help but to bleed onto others.

Jamie Wright


(And the entire blog post is well worth reading too!)

A Different Way

From “The Gospel of Luke” in the book God Is Disappointed in You, by Mark Russell (writer) and Shannon Wheeler (cartoonist):

As he slowly bled to death, it seemed like the whole world had gathered to ridicule Jesus. As he hung there dying, they beat and mocked Jesus for being so naive as to waste his time on pathetic and misguided ideas like forgiveness. For which he forgave them.


“What If…?”

Speculative fiction that reimagines the president’s “9/11 Address to the Nation” from 2001:

Good evening.

Today, humanity’s foundational pillars of existence—love, peace, mercy, and compassion—came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were moms and dads, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives suddenly came to an end because of these attacks. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, and huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. While anger is a natural reaction to such aggression, we must resist the desire for revenge. These extremists intended to stir up a hornet’s nest and further fan the flames of war and hatred in our world. But they have failed. Rather than seek vengeance out of bitter anger, our country will link arms with every willing nation to counter evil with the love, peace, mercy, and compassion I’ve already mentioned.

Today, our world saw evil—the very worst of human nature—but the world also saw some of the best of humanity: with the daring of the many rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could, with the joining of hands and hearts here and all over the globe.

Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government’s emergency response plans. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington D.C. to help with local rescue efforts. Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect humanity against further attacks here and around the world. Beyond this, the functions of our government and economy will continue without interruption.

I appreciate so very much the members of Congress who have joined me in strongly condemning these attacks. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the many world leaders who have called to offer their condolences and assistance. America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and unity in the world, and we stand together to win the war against terrorism.

But this war will not be won with the typical weapons of this world: guns, tanks, missiles, and military personnel. Fighting fire with fire only creates a more dangerous blaze. Meeting violence with violence only produces and perpetuates more violence.

Rather, keeping in mind humanity’s pillars of love, peace, mercy, and compassion, we must learn the truth of what it means to turn the other cheek—not to roll over and shrink away from this brutal assault, but rather to practice peaceful, nonviolent resistance, as modeled by so many great figures throughout history: Jesus Christ, Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, just to name a few.

Nearly every religion has had its extremists who attempt to justify evil in the name of their god. The history of my own Christian faith has seen horrible acts committed in the name of a supposedly loving, peaceful God: from the bloody mass murders of the Inquisition overseas to the oppression and subjugation of the Native peoples here in our own land, and of course our justification of slavery and treating an entire race as less than human—continuing even years after slavery officially ended, with the ghastly, nearly incomprehensible slaughter of African Americans by lynching, burning, and torture at the hands of domestic terrorists.

And so, in response to these international terrorists, I am thankful to have already talked to peace-loving Muslims who have decried these attacks. Like me, they want to see a new world order of peace and unity regardless of race, religion, gender, or anything else that we have allowed to fracture humanity. So we will join with any and all who desire this as well.

Together, we will respond with love: seeking ways to bring real, relevant humanitarian aid and help to those suffering around the world, no matter where they reside. We will respond with peace: seeking ways to build bridges in every corner of human existence rather than build walls that divide. We will respond with mercy: seeking to offer empathy and restorative justice rather than vengeance and retribution to those who hurt us. And, finally, we will respond with compassion: seeking always to look for ways to be a blessing to others, remembering that we are all part of the great global family called “humanity,” and in doing so that we might live out those well-known but too often unpracticed words of Christ: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

In closing, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of peace has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a Power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

Let this day be remembered as a day when all people on this earth unite in our resolve to be peacemakers. None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to bring about a world that can more powerfully experience the reality of a global community of love, peace, mercy, and compassion.

Thank you. Good night. And God bless humanity around the world.

Note: Watch and/or read the original address here.

A Poetic Storyteller

Just finished reading the hefty autobiography of Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run. As long as it is, I wonder how much got trimmed along the way by the author himself, as Springsteen the songwriter is an incredible poetic storyteller and knows the value and power of words (and music as well) … and it’s not like he could ever include everything anyway (was still sad that the book didn’t talk about his participation in the making of “We Are the World”).

Appreciated that he didn’t hide himself (completely, at least) in telling his story, and offered his usual raw look at life, including his own struggles:

Otherwise, if you’d like to hear/see some of Springsteen in action not only as a performer but most of all as a wordsmith, check out some these favorites of mine, which would be material enough for a writing course on their own:

“Thunder Road” [listen for “There were ghosts in the eyes…” and the next line about Chevrolets — such stark visual word-painting]

“Jungleland” [listen for the line about the barefoot girl — more great imagery thanks to little details]

“Streets of Philadelphia” [opening lines so brutally personal, from the point of view of the narrator: mainly Tom Hanks’ character in the movie Philadelphia, and yet such common emotions for all of us at one time or another in life]

“American Skin (41 Shots)” [tackling a lightning-rod issue with this one … studio version with lyrics here]

“The Ghost of Tom Joad” [kind of a culmination of how he taps into creating music that isn’t afraid to speak to modern culture … studio version with lyrics here]

PS: Found an Apple interview with Springsteen and really liked this line from him when asked about writing a book rather than song lyrics:

“You gotta find the music that’s in the words themselves.”

Sage wisdom for writers of any kind …

Going into All the World with the Gospel: Part 4

It's God's Call on How Far You Should Go   // Going into All the World with the Gospel: Part 4 -- From book editor, John David Kudrick // #christianwriter #christianbook #writing #novelwriting

It’s God’s Call on How Far You Should Go

Since I left you hanging in Part 3 of this series, I’ll get right back to my thoughts on the main question we’re exploring in all of this: Can Christian novelists go too far with their content in trying to reach the world with life-changing stories that can touch hearts and point readers toward God?

With that in mind, I also think about the prophet Hosea and how God called him to marry a prostitute … and then to go so far as to seek her out and take her back after she’d left him and likely cheated on him. As I shared this with one of our teen daughters on my lunch break just a little bit ago, she said, “Isn’t the Bible pretty much R-rated?” And I could only say, “Good point.” Because beyond Hosea, you can find all kinds of strong language, graphic violence, disturbing scenes, mature content, and even explicit sex (no matter how much people try to make Song of Solomon a strict allegory).

Finally, there’s the example of Jesus, who hung around the societal dregs of his day and age, with Matthew 11:19 going so far as to call him “a friend of tax collectors and sinners”—as in, the worst of the worst. Yeah, I know this isn’t a direct comparison to a Christian writing what might be considered tawdry fiction, but it gives me enough pause to keep thinking on this, because isn’t Jesus our best example of how to go into all the world with the gospel?

As a side note on that final thought about Jesus setting the example for us, XXXchurch also comes to mind: a ministry not only reaching those in bondage to pornography addiction, but also reaching out personally to those involved in the pornography industry itself—as in, setting up a booth at porn trade shows and showing God’s love to those in the industry and anyone in attendance through a variety of means.

Continue reading

Going into All the World with the Gospel: Part 3

Can a Christian Novelist Go Too Far? // Going into All the World with the Gospel: Part 3 -- From book editor, John David Kudrick // #christianwriter #christianbook #writing #novelwriting

Can a Christian Novelist Go Too Far?

And so we come to the pivotal point in this series on Christ followers who are novelists that want to share their stories with the world. It’s time to dive into the main question we’ve been driving toward by way of the first and second posts: Can Christian novelists go too far with their content in trying to reach the world with life-changing stories that can touch hearts and point readers toward God?

At the end of the second post, I took us into an imaginary writing group of Christians who were sharing their story ideas in the initial meeting. Each novelist who presented a story idea was kind enough to also associate the content of the novel with a typical US movie rating: G, PG, PG-13 … and R?

Huh? A Christian novelist thinking that God might be calling him or her to write an R-rated story—and one that doesn’t even have any in-your-face stuff about God, Jesus, the Bible, etc.?

And so I ask again: Can Christian novelists can go too far?

Continue reading

Going into All the World with the Gospel: Part 2

So God’s Calling You to Write a Novel about (insert story idea here)? // Going into All the World with the Gospel: Part 2 -- From book editor, John David Kudrick // #christianwriter #christianbook #writing #novelwriting

So God’s Calling You to Write a Novel about (insert story idea here)?

In the first post of this series, I broached the idea that God might use a novel written by a Christ follower to knock on the door of someone’s heart, or maybe even give it a last nudge to open it all the way so the light of Christ can shine in. I also pointed ahead to where this whole discussion is heading: Can Christian novelists go too far with their content in trying to reach the world with life-changing stories that can touch hearts and point readers toward God?

Mainly I laid some groundwork by presenting the wide spectrum of people that can be found among the world’s fiction readers, and to remember that every person on the spectrum of readers needs Jesus and the good news in some way, shape, or form. And that’s where I want to pick up with this post.

If Jesus called his followed to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15) and to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), as mentioned in the previous post, then it seems that every person on the spectrum of fiction readers would certainly fall into the “all-ness” of Jesus’s commission to us.

Continue reading

Going into All the World with the Gospel: Part 1

Types of readers that Christian novelists write for // Going into All the World with the Gospel: Part 1 -- From book editor, John David Kudrick // #christianwriter #christianbook #writing #novelwriting

The Spectrum of Readers for a Christian Novelist

Before his ascension, Jesus Christ told his disciples: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15) and “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). To any serious follower of Christ, these are clear calls to tell the world about Jesus and the good news of salvation through his sacrifice for our sins.

Since the point of this blog is not to get into a long treatise on the various ways a person can share the gospel, I’ll just say I agree that many methods exist for preaching the good news to the world. Instead I want to broach the idea of every human heart being like a door—and then eventually get to how a novel written by a Christ follower might be an avenue that God can use to knock on that door or perhaps give it a final nudge to open it all the way so the light of Christ can burst in.

Beyond that, then, is a discussion about whether or not Christian novelists can go too far with their content in trying to reach the world with life-changing stories that can touch hearts and point readers toward God. Given that all of this is a fairly deep exploration of caverns that I’m still spelunking myself, I’m guessing this may take a few posts to get through everything.

Continue reading

Drowning in Details

In my most recent post, I took a look at how details matter in a novel—to the degree that you may lose readers if you flub up the details in your story. Of course, it’s also possible to make sure you have all the details straight and then go too far with them … as in drowning a reader in the details you give.

Let’s look at an example:

The sun-kissed, billowy-clouded azure sky overhead contrasted starkly with the terrifying obsidian-plated killer android that was sickeningly immune to the 7.62mm M61 150.5-grain armor-piercing rounds that we fired at it in staccato rhythm like there was no tomorrow.

Gurgle-gurgle … Blub-blub … And the reader has gone under. Continue reading

Little Details Can Make a Big Difference

Every so often, a novelist should make it a point to remember that most readers have about 54,000 other things they could be doing instead of reading a book. A novel will only hold your reader’s attention ahead of all those other things if it’s truly worth reading.

Aside from all the various mechanics and methods of writing that can turn off a reader, one item sure to doom your novel is goofing up on so-called little details—especially when you need to include subject matter that may not be familiar to you.

To wit: Continue reading

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