Welcome to the Writer’s Desk Issue No: 6: Brennan McPherson where we share what the writers do when they write.
Writer’s Desk Issue No: 6: Brennan McPherson
We’re so excited to have Brennan McPherson featured on this week’s writer’s desk. Brennan S. McPherson writes epic, imaginative biblical fiction with heart-pounding plots and lyrical prose, for readers who like to think biblically and feel deeply. He lives with his wife and young daughter in the Midwest and spends as much of his spare time with them as possible. Be sure to stick around until the end of the post for more about her most recent release plus a chance to win a copy!
Do you have a writing routine? When/Where do you write?
I work a full-time job at a non-profit ministry and have a 3-year old daughter, so my writing routine looks like, “Whenever I can write.” Most of the time that’s either early in the morning or late at night (or both).
When are you most productive?
In the morning, by far.
What do you snack on or drink while writing?
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I write cruddy words that I hate. Most of the time, I end up using them anyway.
What is your outlining process? Are you a pantser/plotter or something in between?
In between. I get impatient when plotting, so most of the time I start writing long before I should. But as I’ve written more books, I’ve leaned more heavily on plotting before writing. I use a few different methods/ideas and mix and match them, depending on what’s unclear to me about the story. One is the Snowflake Method. Another is Susie May Warren’s Dark Moment Story for character/plot development. Also, because of the work I’ve done as a script-writer, I use some concepts from script-writing for plotting/character development, because they’re useful.
Best advice for someone who is just starting out.
Study basic story structure first while you try your hand at writing your own stories. Then, once you know what makes stories tick, and you’re able to render your stories in ways that are simple, understandable, and emotionally resonant, add studying how to write good sentences and how to render action vividly.
Writer’s Desk Issue No: 6: Brennan McPherson
What are your three top tips for bringing the Bible alive through fiction?
Alright, this one is going to be long, so bear with me. Each person brings stories to life in a different way, and that’s part of what makes it beautiful. When we write biblical fiction, we are rendering our own imaginative interpretation of the events in vivid detail so that others can enjoy it. This is the same process we all go through in our minds whenever we read the text of Scripture. When we read, “Paul was imprisoned,” every one of us imagines what it was like. We may think of the stone wall he sat against, or perhaps whether his clothes were tattered or clean. However, few people have thousands of readers picking that imagined rendering apart, and judging whether or not it’s “accurate.”
All of us have myriad assumptions and presuppositions about Scripture that have gone unchecked, including readers.
Part of the trick of rendering biblical fiction successfully is understanding what the prevailing presuppositions about that Scripture passage are, then understanding exactly what Scripture says (or doesn’t say), and finding a way to render the text that is faithful and unique, yet doesn’t frustrate too many ideas people hold to be central. The trouble is, often the prevailing presuppositions are at odds with the text – this has led to issues for me. So, I think my top three tips would be: 1. Study the Scripture obsessively and pray over it frequently. 2. Study both the historical and the current interpretations of the passage. 3. Focus on making your rendering a compelling story, rather than a dry recounting of historical details.
Favorite thing to binge-watch:
Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films
Book(s) currently reading:
I’m reading close to 20 books right now, from high fantasy to historical, writing textbooks to contemporary romance.
Favorite song right now:
That’s like asking a painter what his favorite color is – all of them!
Favorite thing to order at Starbucks:
I prefer black coffee, light-roast, single-origin, with fruity overtones, made pour-over style; but a good frap from Starbucks is always tasty.
Enter to win a copy of Eden from Brennan*
More about Eden:
“You want me to tell of how I broke the world.”
It’s the year 641 since the beginning of everything, and when Eve passes away, she leaves Adam the only man on earth who remembers everything since they walked in Eden.
When Enoch, God’s newly appointed prophet, decides to collect the stories of the faithful from previous generations, he finds Adam in desperate need to confess the dark secrets he’s held onto for too long.
Beside a slowly burning bonfire in the dead of night, Adam tells his story in searing detail. From the beginning of life, to how he broke the world, shattered Eve’s heart, and watched his family crumble.
Will Enoch uncover what led so many of Adam’s children away from God? And will Adam find the redemption and forgiveness he longs for?
“Eden is in a class by itself. It’s biblical fiction with an emotional depth that laid my heart bare. Not only does Brennan McPherson vividly describe the first days of human awakening; he also masterfully unmasks sin’s effects through the broken relationship of Adam and Eve.” – Mesu Andrews, Christy award-winning author of Isaiah’s Daughter
Connect with Brennan McPherson