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Homilies in writing

Updated: Sep 6, 2019

by Lawrence Goodstone

The suggestion that homilies don’t work is far too broad a statement because much depends on the audience that the homily is intended to target.

Tell the local vicar that the homilies within his Sunday sermon don’t work and you’ll have a very unhappy servant of god. Tell the principal of a school that the homilies offered at school assemblies don’t work – you’ll get back stern looks.

Where homilies really don’t work is in fictional writing. Target readerships for fiction, in the main, are reading to be entertained. They do not want to preached to, and sophisticated readers don’t want to think that attempts are being made to hoodwink or brainwash them by way of subliminal messages.

An author can transmit messages to the reader through storyline and characterisation but the message should be subsidiary to plot and character development. At the end of a piece of writing – or at the end of a film script – the reader or audience might have had a glimpse of the writer’s views but does not want a lecture. They can get that at church on a Sunday.

Photo credit: Stephen Radford - Unsplash


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