What inspires you? A beautiful flower? The laughter of a child? A brilliant sunset? A compelling message? Inspiration stirs our hearts, urging us to be better people, to want to make a difference in our corner of the world.

But what about inspiration in writing? What makes a novel inspirational? Is simply having a character utter a prayer for help, or mentioning God enough to qualify? Or does it involve something much deeper?

People are often inspired by Olympic champions, or movies that portray an individual who, when faced with insurmountable odds, has the grit, determination, and faith to overcome. How can writers convey such depth of inspiration within the written page? What does it take to touch the very heart of a reader?

To be truly inspiring, a story must embody the following 4 elements:

Realistic Characters: Readers must identify deeply with characters and be able to feel what they experience. True-to-life characters resonate with readers in ways flawless characters never could. If you want to create a story that inspires, give your characters qualities readers can relate to.

Internal Faith Issue: Main characters need to grapple with a deep, personal issue that challenges their inner beliefs or morals. Give your characters a tough choice, one that tests their faith and bares their souls.

Spiritual Awakening/Growth: A character’s internal struggle must stir them to a renewed faith or understanding of God’s purpose for his/her life. Take your characters through trials and troubles that implore them to deepen their faith and draw closer to God.

Uplifting Resolution: Finally, an inspirational novel needs to end leaving readers with a sense of fulfillment that validates their commitment to God. Be certain readers are left with a deep sense of satisfaction, knowing faith is central to, not only your story, but life itself. Have you been inspired by something lately? A person? A book? I’d love to have you share your thoughts.

Read more of Cynthia’s work at: Putting on the New Blog  

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Read how God works in the lives of Cynthia’s characters in her debut novel, UNDER THIS SAME SKY, available in both e-book and print at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.