Posted tagged ‘taboos’

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.