Posted tagged ‘christian fiction’

Edgy Christian Fiction

October 20, 2009

One thing I struggle with is the balance between producing writing that is sufficiently isolated to be consumed by the Christian market, and the desire as a writer to present realistic characters with real-world challenges in exciting circumstances. I feel that this is the definition of edgy christian fiction.  We all know the taboos; drinking, sex, violence, cursing, etc.  I say isolated because this is basically how a writer must craft their characters in many ways – remove them from the realistic truths of the world, and still strive to make them realistic.

It’s a challenge to produce interesting fiction, especially in genres like supernatural suspense, that don’t go too far.  It also, in my opinion, can be detrimental to the work.  When a character is struck, they bleed.  People are challenged by all manner of shortfallings and thorns in their flesh – but to write about them can be treading on dangerous ground.

One character in my book is a woman who was molested as a child.  It is critical to her character and her role in the story.  However, I do not ever get into too much detail – more suggestions and shadows.  But is even the suggestion of her past too much?  Will Christians “tsk tsk” and shake their heads, setting the story aside?  Or will the compelling characteristics of an individual with a huge personal challenge to their faith and their very life cause them to read on, enthralled by the very things that we face as human beings daily?

Another character is a gang leader – a man with morals that would make most Christians blush.  However, I refrain from using the language that would normally flow from the mouth of such a person.  He becomes an odd charicature of what he should be, in order to make the novel palatable by Christian consumers.

My novel is very action-centered also.  It is exciting, suspenseful.  But, where there’s active confrontation, there is violence.  People die.  I tone down the violence as far as possible without removing it.  It needs to serve it’s purpose.  Confrontation without risk is like running a race with no competition.

Perhaps my book is too ‘un-sanitized’ for Christian markets.  It bothers me because, to me, the depth of character and distance from the mundane is what makes a novel rich and worth the hours a reader will invest.  Christian markets are evolving, but the taboos still seem to hold their place.

Men! We Can’t Read!

October 18, 2009

When I look at the success of works like the Left Behind series (which BTW I have not read), I often wonder if it may be partly due to the audience reached.  I think that perhaps Left Behind, Frank Peretti and others go to places that men want to go, moreso than the mainstay of Christian fiction.  Is this an untapped market (in my unlearned opinion of course)?

The blog entry entitled Christian Fiction:  No Men Allowed! is very interesting.  A quote:

Conventional publishing industry wisdom has it that guys just don’t buy fiction. Men account for only 20 percent of novel sales…

Men, what’s wrong with us? 

Studies suggest that men are visual while women are less so (in terms of their appreciation modes).  Perhaps men prefer their fiction to be delivered in the form of movies or television then?  Maybe more than reading a good book perhaps?  Maybe men simply can’t read?  Maybe we don’t want to take the time?

It surprises me, probably because I love a good book.  I have a nice pile of them (quite a few actually).  But I do expect a certain level of ‘manness’ from what I read.  Amish waifs and church congregation challenges don’t do it for me.  “Reality” television doesn’t scratch my itch – I have enough reality of my own.  Historical fiction usually doesn’t either.  My mom reads tons of Christian historical, and recommends it to me regularly.  My usual answer is in the form of questions:  “Does it have any alien invasions?  Sword battles with lords of darkness?   Does it have any battles at all?  Does it have any epic clashes of good vs. evil?  Does anyone make the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of those they love?”  Am I missing out on some wonderful stories?  Probably.  Hey, I’m just wired that way.

In terms of my writing, which invariably becomes “mannish” in that I strive for excitement, challenge, confrontation, struggles against the insurmountable.  It excites me to write it, and I hope it excites the reader as well.  But, my fear is that it may be too “mannish” and rather than be something able to tap an untapped market, it is something directed toward an nonexistent one.  If a story is told in the woods, and nobody is there to hear it…

Of course my wife doesn’t think it is too “mannish”, but then again she’s perhaps a little biased.

A Story to Share

October 10, 2009

By way of introduction, I am a writer of Christian Fiction (let’s call it Supernatural Suspense), and I have a tale to tell.  The story you’ll find here is about the story I’ve written.  About how I wrote it.  About the challenges I faced and the tools I used.  It spans a five year journey that spawned a 95,500 word manuscript, of which I am very proud.  It, like this blog, is a tale I had to tell, as it would simply not remain quiet within me.

I appreciate any ideas, criticisms, and collaboration any reader may offer.  After all, a tale untold is like a love unspoken.  We writers know that is a road to regret.  However, we also know that the other road, the one to the left with the foreboding sign which reads “Professional Writer’s Market”, is daunting, demanding, and lined with failed attempts to traverse its long miles.  Yet we must tell…

Please, enjoy what I have to share.  I hope I may offer useful advise to fellow writers and look for your thoughts in return.  Thanks