Definition – Examples – How to Write
Hello Lovelies, and welcome back to the blog. Last week, we started learning about the fifth Pillar of Genre, Fiction. We went over a definition for Historical Fiction, and we talked about some examples and how to write it. This week, I want to dive deeper into the next of those subgenres, that of Inspirational Fiction. Let’s get started.
Inspirational Fiction Definition
Inspirational fiction is a brand of fiction that is largely uplifting, often with characters who enact positive change in their lives. As with all of these, the inspirational fiction genre can cross genres sometimes, and have many other elements, but I’ve personally read many contemporary novels that seemed inspirational to me at the time.
There are so many examples for Inspirational Fiction, and this is a genre that I particularly enjoy reading. Here are some of my personal favorites:
- The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
This masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.
- Tuesdays with Morrie by Jeffrey Hatcher
This is the autobiographical story of Mitch Albom, an accomplished journalist driven solely by his career, and Morrie Schwartz, his former college professor. Sixteen years after graduation, Mitch happens to catch Morrie’s appearance on a television news program and learns that his old professor is battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Mitch is reunited with Morrie, and what starts as a simple visit truns into a weekly pilgrimage and a last class in the meaning of life.
- Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
The narrator of this extraordinary tale is a man in search for truth. He answers an ad in a local newspaper from a teacher looking for serious pupils, only to find himself alone in an abandoned office with a full-grown gorilla who is nibbling delicately on a slender branch. Ishmael is a creature of immense wisdom and he has a story to tell, one that no other human being has ever heard. It is a story that extends backward and forward over the lifespan of the earth from the birth of time to a future there is still time to save. Like all great teachers, Ishmael refuses to make the lesson easy; he demands the final illumination to come from within ourselves. Is it man’s destiny to rule the world? Or is it a higher destiny possible for him– one more wonderful than he has ever imagined?
- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
A lot of professors give talks titled ‘The Last Lecture’. Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?
When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave, ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’, wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because time is all you have and you may find one day that you have less than you think). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.
In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration, and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.
How to Write Inspirational Fiction as a Literary Genre
If you are interested in writing fiction so as to inspire other readers, there actually are some concrete tips that I can give you for doing so. These tips can be found more fully fleshed out on the ProWritingAid blog, so please look for them there if you would like to learn more.
- Cultivate empathy. Before writing inspirational stories, you’d need to have strong empathy in how people feel.
- Create relatable characters and ideas. Inspirational stories can be presented with anecdotal narration. Thus, creating relatable characters, such as lovable protagonists, might be an option to deliver the message.
- Deliver the struggle positively. Every inspirational story starts with a problem and the struggle in achieving a destination. The struggle may include dark episodes, where the author seems lost in the problem, depression, and anxiety. However, most parts of the story should be delivered positively, despite the plots or supporting ideas.
- Deliver hope. The best inspirational stories deliver understanding, peace, and hope. Hope itself has transformational power. There is nothing you can’t do if you have hope.
- Conclude with tips. If you’re not a licensed psychologist, don’t provide professional advice or suggestions. Instead, include tips and recommendations on what to do based on your personal experiences or one or more of your case studies.
Next week, we are moving through the Fiction Pillar of Genre, and talking about the Western Genre. There are a ton of subgenres that fall under the fiction category and I am so excited to go over them all and find out your favorites. Stay tuned for Westerns next week and throughout the rest of the year!
- What is your favorite work of fiction?
- Do you have a favorite type of fiction subgenre?
- What genre is your favorite to read in, and do you write in the same genre or a different one?
- What is the most important reason writers should be aware of genre and its conventions?
- What questions would you like to see me answer in a blog post or podcast episode?
Leave your answers in the comments section for this post!