Church Scenes

by Paul
(birmingham, england)

Question: I'm writing a murder story novel that features numerous deaths. But I have a scene set on a Sunday in church. I have done the sermon part.

But I have parts in the church where the father of the church says we will now sing the hymn Jerusalem. Do I say the congregation stands up and sings or do I put the lyrics to the song.

Answer: With both the sermon and the song, you need a good reason before including them, for instance if their contents contribute to the thematic argument of the story.

I'm pretty sure the lyrics to Jerusalem are in public domain, so there's no problem there. However, because the song is quite well known, I wonder if quoting them would really add anything to the scene?

Unless the hymn is a clue, it might be more fruitful to draw the reader's attention to something else happening during the church service -- perhaps some subtle interaction between characters, something out of place, or the surprising presence (or absence) of a particular character that offers a clue or a red herring related to the mystery?

Ask yourself what the main character's attention will be drawn to. Most likely it will be the unexpected or something that has emotional significance.

You should always have a reason for everything you include in your story. Anything that has no purpose should be cut.

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