Improve your writing with biblical writing techniques

Discover how you can work through the Bible not only for spiritual nourishment, but also to stimulate your writing techniques. This step-by-step reading and writing exercise will help you tell a story more effectively through narrative writing, hone your attention to detail through descriptive writing, and expand your use of figurative language through the art of illustration. Grab your Bible and a pad of paper, and enjoy the journey. May your writing grow to new heights in the process.

Narrative writing

Read Ruth 1-4 and answer the following questions in a journal format as you go along:

1. Search for a spot in the narrative where the author expresses an opinion. If you can find such an expression, explain whether it is appropriate or inappropriate given the context.

2. Showing action is an important part of many narratives. In your opinion, what is the most exciting action that takes place in this story? Give specific details. Why do you like it?

3. What are the issues behind the main conflict in this narrative? Give details.

4. From what point of view is this story told? How would the story feel differently if it were told from the point of view of Boaz?

5. Dialogue is used in this story to reveal character. In what ways do you feel you know Ruth better because you have “heard” her talk?

6. Compare this story with a news article from the front page of a newspaper. What is the bias of each author?

7. What techniques of narrative writing have you learned from Ruth that will come in handy for writing your own narrative?

Descriptive writing

Read Judges 5 and answer the following questions in a journal format as you go along:

1. Which of the five senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, sound) is dominant in Debora’s description of the conflict? Speculate on why this may be deliberate. Which of the five senses do you wish she would explore more thoroughly? Write a sentence or two that you can recommend for inclusion (in case she ever revises her paper!)

2. Make a list of at least five ways in which Judges 5 is different from the Judges 4 narrative of the same event and explain which version of the conflict you prefer.

The art of illustration

Read 1 Corinthians 12 and answer the following questions in a journal format as you go along:

1. Metaphors are a type of illustration. How does the “Body” metaphor help the reader comprehend the author’s meaning?

2. Describe the images that jump into your mind as you read about the “Body” metaphor and try to think of another metaphor that could illustrate the same truth to a modern reader. Is your metaphor better than Paul’s? Why or why not?

Adapted from Dr. Dan Runyon’s article, “How to Teach Writing from the Bible.”

Dr. Dan Runyon ([email protected]) teaches composition, fiction writing and Renaissance literature at Spring Arbor University, Michigan, USA. This article is adapted from material in his textbook, Biblical Models for College Writing.

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