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Fiction book discussion questions?


Kiwi_Treats
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Sounds like they might be useful for a Christian book discussion group. I think you have options. Many questions may contain spoilers, and if so you'll want to begin with a spoiler warning. If you're vey clever with the questions, you might make them spoiler free, and the readers might be considering them as they read. A compromise might list questions according to chapter, and head them with which chapter must be read in order to avoid getting spoiled.

 

You might then need a notice up-front, pointing out that the questions are there, as few readers will check the back of the book, before reading.

 

Answer to your original question: sure, go for it...

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13 hours ago, Kiwi_Treats said:

What do you think--helpful or unnecessary?

 

Are discussion questions a thing in the Christian fiction genera? I don't normally write/read in this genre, so I have no idea. 

 

I wouldn't consider doing this in the fiction genres I write in. To do so I think would be perceived as presumptuous. If my books ever generate discussion, I'd want it to be a spontaneous bonus.   

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Guest Spaulding

One of the fears I have is my novel will come off as too preachy. I have no idea how you'd do that without coming off too preachy. But if you can, why not?

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I think if you're writing fiction, you should only write to entertain.

 

If you are writing adult fiction with a message, having discussion questions will deflate any impact your story made by turning into a classroom lesson.

 

People can think on their own.  When you try to help them think, it goes from being insightful to being preachy.

 

Of course, your mileage may vary.

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Guest Spaulding
2 hours ago, Jeff Potts said:

If you are writing adult fiction with a message, having discussion questions will deflate any impact your story made by turning into a classroom lesson.

True for kid fiction too. (And, if it did make it into a classroom lesson, I would think the teachers would rather come up with the questions.)

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Some fiction novels have made it on to reading lists for Literature students at Uni and for students studying English as a second language.  Discussion questions at the end of the book or at the end of each chapter could prove to be very helpful in that respect.

 

 

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@suspensewriter Having worked in a college, I know fiction novels were acquired for English speakers of other languages.  Also, in a Univ, we bought fiction novels for students studying German and other foreign languages. Fiction novels were also purchased for teacher trainees teaching primary school children.

 

I do not know whether Christian fiction novels were purchased though.

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On 12/4/2021 at 6:00 PM, Kiwi_Treats said:

How do you all feel about discussion questions at the end of Christian fiction novels? I have a Christian novel on Amazon and if I ever do a second edition I am considering adding discussion questions to help readers reflect. What do you think--helpful or unnecessary?


I don't care for them. A novel isn't a devotional, and shouldn't be a sermon. A novel is a narrative where different people will be attracted to different truths about their own lives based on the situations and the decisions of the characters and so on. What one person thinks is important might not occur to another, and vice versa.
 
Even though Linda and I sit in the same sanctuary and hear the same message, the Holy Spirit highlights different things about that message in our own lives. We regularly talk about these insights over tacos after the message.  We don't need a list of canned follow-p questions after the sermon to have these conversations, they flow naturally from  the scripture text and the moving of the Holy Spirit. 

As someone who already thinks Christian fiction errs on the side of preachiness,  I think the story and the characters and the situations should entertain and let the events themselves lead to epiphany in the mind of the reader, and trust that Holy Spirit will arouse the insights that the reader needs. Therefore, I prefer to rely on the Holy Spirit to suggest the most pertinent questions and leave the reading experience as more of an entertainment than a scholastic exercise with study questions when the book is over.

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Thanks for sharing your perspectives, everyone. I am beginning to think maybe my book does not need discussion questions, although again, appropriateness will probably vary depending on who is reading the book. I have read a fair amount of Christian historical fiction, and some of these I recall having discussion questions at the end, while others did not. Guess it'd be interesting to find out what determines them being included or left out!

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8 hours ago, Kiwi_Treats said:

Thanks for sharing your perspectives, everyone. I am beginning to think maybe my book does not need discussion questions, although again, appropriateness will probably vary depending on who is reading the book.

 

"Who is reading the book" is probably what we want to consider while we're actually writing. If we pitch a book to anyone who'll decide to invest time & money on it, they'll ask who is our book's audience. (If we say it's for anyone who likes a good story, we've essentially said we haven't given it the thought it needs.) No, we can't figure out every last customer, but can get a basic idea of its appeal.

 

One variable is a broad reader spectrum spanning thinking vs. feeling. Another spans wanting pure entertainment vs. being challenged by something thought-provoking. These are just a start. Everyone wants to be brought to a new place, but exactly where is that place for our audience?

 

There's nuthin' wrong with pure entertainment, but that audience probably wants an escape from extra work; questions will likely be ignored. If our story pushes the reader into a situation that has no pat and easy answers, it becomes an intellectual challenge. The audience that seeks out those books are more likely to get into deeper discussions with their friends. Questions may help guide them in searching for answers, or provoke them into looking beyond their current limitations.

 

A story like that is either planned out ahead of time, or painstakingly reworked to add in the right kind of reader conflict. But that won't happen by accident. So thinking ahead of time about our audience is a Good Thing.

 

8 hours ago, Kiwi_Treats said:

I have read a fair amount of Christian historical fiction, and some of these I recall having discussion questions at the end, while others did not. Guess it'd be interesting to find out what determines them being included or left out!

 

If you list out the books that do and that don't you may find some sort of pattern, but if you've noticed that authors may not always think out their stories, they may not think this one through, either. Still, you might find more questions with the make-you-think stories, than with the let-you-escape ones.

 

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