Thursday, February 02, 2006

 

Christian Fiction vs. Regular Fiction

Recently I've noticed a lot of controversy over the topic of "Christian fiction vs. Regular fiction." Because of my first novel titled, "Forgive Us This Day," many readers assume that I write Christian fiction. My reply is that "I'm a Christian, and I'm a writer, but my work is not classified as Christian literature." So let me explain myself. Christian fiction especially Christian romance novels are based on the main characters maintaining sound Christian values which does not include engaging in the use of profanity, premarital sex, or extramarital sex. And if any characters within the context of the novel should happen to engage in sexual activity, there are no explicit details. Now I don't have a problem with this, and I wholeheartedly accept these values. My concern with this type of work is that Christian writers are mainly reaching other Christian folk. In other words, to me, it's like the "Pastor preaching to the choir. " If everyone in the choir is saved, why are you preaching to them? Sure, you're going to reach the good Christian folk, but what about the Regular folk that need to be told about Jesus. They're not going to buy anything labeled "Christian fiction" because in their minds, it does not apply to them, and they do not want to be preached to. So after many hours, days, and nights of prayer, this is how my writing philosophy evolved. In other words, I believe this is the charge that was given to me. My writing can be described as "contemporary romance novels with spiritual overtones." What I try to do is write about Regular people that are having problems, going through some trials and tribulations, but in the end they find Jesus and are able to turn their lives around and save their relationships. I tell their stories in their languages the way that it occurs in their secular lives. Then, I take my characters through a series of events which leads to introspective thoughts which eventually leads to a spiritual transformation from their Regular lives. Now I know that this is also the ultimate goal of the Christian fiction writer, but this is my point: Although we have the same goals in mind, we're just reaching them (or should I say the people) in different ways. It's my understanding that Jesus walked the earth looking like a Regular person. He wasn't dressed in what we now refer to as our "Sunday best" like silk suits and alligator shoes. He lead the masses of people by looking like them, walking with them, and then by leading them to a different life. So while I'm not condoning the sinful behavior of the characters in my novels; I am showing their reality which is also the reality of many readers searching for a higher spiritual power. Hopefully, through reading my works, it will help clarify their journey.

Comments:
Hi Barbara,

You definitely gave me something to think about. I write Christian fiction, but its a little outside the box. I constantly asked myself if I'm labeled it wrong. I know now, that Christian fiction is what I want to write.

I do believe you have to know who you are writing for. I disagree about preaching to the choir. The choir needs preaching to also. As a Christian we are always learning because once you stop, I think its time to go home.

I decided I'm writing for the Christian I am. The one who wants stories about real Christian without the cussing and gang banging.

When I became a Christian there weren't any stories that talked to me. Someone living the Christian life. A life that wasn't free of trials but one who counted on the Lord.

So my advice to the writer trying to figure out what to write. Know the reader you want for your books. Then write that story for them.
 
Barbara,
What a wonderful subject. It's good to know how God has guided you. I guess my only problem is if the people in the books committing all the sin are supposedly Christian people. True, we all backslide, but as a reader, I will expect more of that type of character than someone who lived his or her life on the street.

As for as preaching to the choir, have you looked at some of the choir lately? LOL Everything is blurring and people are reading pornography on Saturday and going to church on Sunday. While I want to be relatable and real, I also have to draw a line (well God drew it for me). For some though, I'll be too much too. Like Lashaunda, I have write where I'm walking.

Again, though it's good to know how God has lead you in your writing. Everyone has a different journey for sure.
 
I've been a Christian all my life. And my earliest memories are those of being in church. I know that all that I am is because of God's blessings, my familes and friends, and all those people who supported and encouraged me at church. They were the people who taught me to embrace and honor my past and believe in my future.

I'm an advid reader and I read books that are not Christian, too. However, Christian fiction feeds my soul in a way that other fiction rarely does.

As a Christian I want to read about other Christians who embrace the life that we should live. However, I want to read about those that have made mistakes and still have found and embrace the goodness and forgiveness that is offered by Christ. That is not to say, we should continue to make the same mistakes again and again, but to know that forgiveness and mercy is our right as a Christian.

So, I applaud the Christian fiction writers who encourage my soul and help me to walk the walk a little better. I am grateful to see characters who are flawed like me, but who don't give up. And I enjoy the stories where a writer is "outside the box" and takes chances.

Thankfully, there isn't only one type of Christian fiction. God didn't make us all alike, so why would there be only one way to write to and for that market?

I'm grateful for the books that speak to my heart, but I'm equally thankful for those writers who speak to non-Christians and ask them to consider the Christian life.

Frankly, I'm just thrilled to see the variety in Christian fiction. And know that I can read something that can speak to me in an intimate way. And I look forward to reading more!
 
I'm too a Christian and I don't write anything close to Christian fiction although I plan to take the plunge in a few years or so.

A good story is a good story no matter what genre its from and for poeople to be critical about your stories is really inane.

I'm never ashamed about what I write. Never never.
 
Hi Barbara,

Interesting post. I once read a writer's critique of the movie "The Passion of Christ" which equated what Gibson had done with the crucifixion as almost pornographic. Pornograpy is not just sexually explicit. It is lurid and sensational as many romance novels are.

When we think about the writers of the gospels, they were able to convey, with great effectiveness, the passion of Christ in few words. I think they are an example to us today.

I've read Christian fiction;that's what I write. I've also read secular, mainstream fiction. I've read writers like Leslie Esdaile who have spiritual elements in her writing, but if I'm dying, I'm not looking at her books. I'm looking for Jesus. I can read secular books to give me explicit sex scenes, but when I want to see God move, I want that in a book I can trust to bring the God without all that gratuitous sex or profanity. I've never read a good Christian novel that made me say, I sure missed the steamy sex and curse words.

As I writer, I had to choose sides. I was going to write for the Lord, or not. I chose to write for the Lord. That means I have boundaries that I can't cross for Christ's sake literally. This doesn't mean that my characters are not flawed, or struggle, or sin. They do, but I don't have to say what body part goes where to convey their passion.
Nor does it mean that I'm preaching to the choir. The truth is, we don't know who is reading our books, choir or sinner. Christian fiction is showing up at Target and Walmart. God can use those books to reach anybody. I don't want some starving soul to pick up my book and say, this is just like what I just left. Why would I read that?

Bottom line, whatever I write, say, do...it all will be dealt with in judgement. I have to answer to God for whatever my writing, and I want to have a good answer for Him.
 
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