Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Writers Broken by God - Les Stobbe

By Les Stobbe
Literary Agent
Tryon, NC

What experiences do people remember?

In the run-up to football’s Super Bowl a sportswriter did research on what the sporting public remembers and came to an amazing conclusion. He discovered that it is the failures of winning teams and high performing athletes that people talk about.

He cited the example of the Red Sox losing the final game of a World Series because a ball trickled through the first baseman’s legs in the ninth inning, giving the New York Yankees new life and letting them win.

He speculated that even after winning 18 straight games in the 2007-2008 season, what would indelibly stamp the New England Patriots in the memory of football fans nationwide was the loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. That they actually came within less than three minutes of winning their 19th game does not count—they lost. That bitter loss will haunt Patriot’s fans for decades and be mentioned by sports commentators for many years to come.

Yes, we revere Joseph for his leadership in the court of Pharaoh, but isn’t it his being thrown into a pit by his brothers and sold as a slave to traders passing by that really grips us emotionally?

We rejoice at David dispatching Goliath with a single stone, but the most vivid scenes are David’s seduction of Bathsheba and Nathan’s confrontation of David over his actions. We read Psalm 51 because we can relate to the explosion of raw emotions leading to repentance and acceptance by God.

We may be envious of Job’s wonderful time as a rich man with a successful family. But stuck in our minds is the image of him sitting on an ash heap scraping at his sores.

Would Jonah’s trip to Nineveh have been memorable if gentle breezes had taken his ship to that great city? Instead we sympathize with him as he realizes he’s the reason the wind is threatening to sink the ship and empathize with him as he is thrown overboard?

As editor and agent I have had to turn down many manuscripts because they are only a presentation of ideas without the context of life’s struggles and brokenness before God. So rejoice when God lets you experience suffering, rejection, brokenness, for once you have experienced the reality of God’s presence during those times you have a message for others.

But take your time to process what God has been teaching you—your writing before you have experienced the full range of God’s healing process will still reflect remnants of confusion and anger.

Les Stobbe has been an agent for 16 years, with a focus on adult fiction and non-fiction. Most of Les’s publishable proposals are coming via recommendation from clients, well-known authors, and editors, often at Christian writers’ conferences.

He is looking for those fresh voices in both adult fiction and non-fiction who above all know how to tell a story with truth embedded in it. While he is convinced that outstanding writing by fresh voices ought to be a priority consideration when a manuscript is evaluated, he is well aware that breakthrough writers typically already have a platform.

He is happy to provide outlines for both fiction and non-fiction proposals at Since he moved into the digital age years ago, Les expects all queries and proposals will come as one document attached to an e-mail.

Subscribe to Florida Christian Writers Conference Blog by e-mail


  1. I love the title, Writers Broken by God. I think that what Mr. Stobbe wrote was so in line with what I have come to believe in my life when he said: "As editor and agent I have had to turn down many manuscripts because they are only a presentation of ideas without the context of life’s struggles and brokenness before God. So rejoice when God lets you experience suffering, rejection, brokenness, for once you have experienced the reality of God's presence during those times you have a message for others."

    I also have taken to heart the thoughts that you must take time for your writing to be processed, so that bitterness about events does not show through.

    I believe your wound can lead you to God and equip you to lead others to the Lord. It can dazzle the world to see what the Lord can do with a broken heart restored and healed by the blood of Jesus. Satan would like us to be quiet about our testimony but I stand on the scripture, “They overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12:11) NIV

    Part of the healing Jesus brings increases as we reach out to others as He did. He was touched with the feelings of our infirmities. When we are touched by the pain of others we want to point them to a source of comfort.

    My writings are mainly for women who are wounded and feeling alone. Their dreams for their families haven't come true and they need someone to walk beside them, if not literally, by words, to remind them that the Lord is near to the brokenhearted. I am coming to learn how to do that more effectively. We don't all have the happy endings that most books portray.

    Donna Collins Tinsley

  2. Hi Les!!
    How valuable this is for me today. My husband is doing a sermon this Sunday on running the good race and how we, as Christians, have already won and are taking the victory lap at His side. His success, in the face of our failures, is part of what makes His Grace so amazing. He guides us through those times of challenge but we know in the end the race is won. How it is won in your daily life may yet to be revealed, just know it's there. You won!

    I am privileged to be a client of Les'. It is an honor to work with him and know that we jointly pray for his success and mine. I've never had that kind of agent relationship and I count him as a tremendous blessing.

  3. What a lovely and accurate post. Les is my agent also and I am so grateful for his faith in my ability to portray the power of God's awesome healing love to a hurting world!

    Pamela S Thibodeaux
    "Inspirational with an Edge!"

  4. It occurs to me, in reading Les' post, that the "dark moment" we are encouraged to portray in our novels is often the culmination of all the physical forces and actions set in motion by our protagonist. My WIP would benefit from re-writing that section to emphasize the spiritual reasons for the crisis, and spiritual progression through/because of the crisis. It's there, but needs to be colored in better. Thanks, Les.


Chime in!