May 3, 2016

Writing about Left Behind

The first time I tried to write about Left Behind, I spent a lot of time, a LOT of time, trying to explain the theological background of the story. Premil vs. postmil. John N. Darby and 19th century evangelicalism and Plymouth Brethren. C.I. Scofield and his Bible commentary. Literalism, when "literal" means "metaphorical." I just had to get the basics out of the way, so I could talk about what I wanted to talk about with the novel. And it took forever.

I later realized: you can cut all that.

People get the basics. They know what "the rapture" is. The book sold 65 million copies and the theological background is now common pop-culture knowledge.

People who watched The Simpsons understood enough to get the joke. So people who read academic work about evangelical fiction get enough to follow an argument.

Lesson: it's OK to trust your readers a little bit. They know a couple of things.