Posted tagged ‘Writing’

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.

What do lackluster board meetings and writer’s block have in common?

October 14, 2009

The answer may be a cure. 

Living most of my waking hours in corporate America, I’ve seen all sorts of ideas to stimulate creativity and productivity in meetings.  One that has been a fad lately is meeting toys – small objects that can be plied, twisted, shaped, and otherwise manipulated during said meetings.  They supposedly stimulate creativity.  Hm, maybe.  I’ve tried it.  I also tend to play with things during meetings myself.  In my office I keep a deck of cards (amateur magician), which I shuffle and cut and practice the tools of the prestidigitation trade while talking business. 

So what does this have to do with writer’s block?  Here’s my theory:

Occupying parts of your brain that deal in procedure (much of which happens subconsciously – ever arrive at work only to realize you don’t really recall driving there completely?) can free other parts of your brain to be creative.  Basis in fact?  Perhaps – harkening back to my degree in Biomedical Engineering many years ago, I can’t remember all the details.  What I do know is that one of the most productive creative periods I’ve had was during a nine hour drive to vacation this year, during which I outlined my entire second volume of the trilogy I’m writing.  My hands, eyes and subconscious parts of my process-driven mind were occupied staying on the road, watching for signs, monitoring traffic.  The creative parts flourished.

Am I crazy?  Perhaps, but I will be remembering that going forward.  When those times hit me, as they do all writers, my panacea will possibly be a long drive or a deck of cards.  Let me know what works for you!

Telling a Tale when you have a full-time job

October 11, 2009

Writers, when do you write?  God has blessed me with a wonderful job, but working nine to five, and then some (sometimes quite a bit more “then some”) leaves little time for writing.  What spare time I have is spent with the family or trying to recuperate from the daily stresses.

I’m blessed in more ways than one however.  I take public transportation to and from work each day.  In Pittsburgh, we have the ‘T’, or the Port Authority Transit – think subway, trolly, light rail, or whatever the nomenclature of your particular city.  It provides me with between thirty and forty-five minutes a day to focus on my writing, where it is very difficult to do anything else.

I’m an early-bird, which means I’m on the T between five and six in the morning, when it is not standing room only.  This means I can be sure to get one of the ‘good seats’ that facilitates writing.

It doesn’t seem like much, and I envy those writers who, for a living, spend their days bent over their keyboards.  But for me, I look forward to those few minutes when I can focus and write.

If I took the bus or had to drive, this couldn’t be possible, so again, I am blessed with that daily habit of commute-writing.  Of course, there’s more to the story, which I will save for my next post.  How does one write while riding on a trolly?