"Fiction?" he said. "You think it has the power to transform marriages? Isn't that a bit of a stretch? I mean … seriously."
"No," I said. "I am being serious."
Did this conversation really happen? No, it's fiction. I made it up as I anticipated how some might react to the claim in this article. But I really do believe well-written fiction can do far more than just entertain; it has the power to change people's lives.
I know it's true. It certainly has changed mine.
Before I began reading and writing fiction, I was a pastor for many years. Most pastors don't read fiction (not sure you knew that). Oh, they read. They read A LOT. They mostly (if not exclusively) read thick theology books and nonfiction books on Christian living. Books with answers to all the big questions of life and faith people keep asking them about.
I noticed a significant change in the way I thought about people, even the way I treated them, after I began reading fiction books. Even more so, after I began writing fiction myself. To put it plainly, I cared more. I noticed more. And I felt more.
I actually cry, sometimes several times, with every book I write. I cry while certain scenes are coming to me, as I write them, and months later?in some of those same places?when I edit the story. It doesn't seem to occur to me that I've made all this up in my head. The things the characters are going through just get to me. They affect the way I think and the way I feel.1