Christian Fiction – The Fuzzy Genre

Kara asked in the last entry:

Now I have a question too – do  you have a first draft of the whole trilogy done already?

The complete trilogy is not finished. So far the first two installments only. I hesitate to tackle the third at this point for two reasons.

1.    It’s going to be huge! Though it’s still fuzzy and I’ve written no outline as yet, I know with the number of characters created so far (and they are many), introductions of characters not yet conceived, a large plot and many subplots, I anticipate the last book to add up to over 200,000 words. The second book already sits at 130,000 words, and I know I can’t thin it down any more with subsequent drafts.

2.    When I finally find a publisher, who knows what sort of changes they will require prior to publication? I don’t want to write a massive book and end up having to start over because the first two books changed so drastically.  

Doug asked a question as well:

I was wondering if you could explain what Christian Speculative Fiction is. I understand the speculative fiction part but does the work have to include a Christian message or does it mean no cursing, sex, etc.?

In truth, Christian fiction should be considered a sub-genre because it’s so difficult to define. We after all, don’t question whether a book is a western, science fiction, chick-lit or fantasy.

How then do we define Christian fiction? It does need to contain a Christian world-view whether it’s a fantasy, western, et al, or a message consistent with scripture and Biblical teachings (and that alone can vary so wildly it’ll make your head spin). And yet, the message doesn’t need to be overtly Christian where the main characters either turn to Christ or strengthen their faith in the end.

In the end, what makes the book Christian is the target audience.

My books, however, I want all people to read, not Christians alone. I label mine Christian because I want the reader to know it contains an overt Christian world-view before they read it.

Much – if not all – labeled Christian fiction does shy away from graphic sex and cursing. Ironic and a bit strange, since many show murder and other people-to-people cruelty even from the protagonists (my books included). Why is murder okay, but not cursing? Isn’t murder worse? I never quite understood that.

Sex I don’t have a problem with as long as it’s not graphic. It’s not the ‘sinful’ aspect of it per-se (when it happens outside of marriage), but a matter of allowing the readers’ imagination to fill in the blanks.

The same goes for cursing. If I am to let my characters be themselves, swearing must be allowed from those who would do so naturally.

For example, the captain of a ship will not say, “Oh, darn, the ding-a-ling pirates are attacking us again.”

It’s not only dishonest, but it sounds plain silly. I’ve read Christian books that have similar dialogue and it makes me wince every time.

Still, to refrain from profanity is a matter of respect, because most readers of Christian fiction don’t expect profanity any more than they want to read graphic sex scenes.

Yet there are ways of showing the cursing without spelling out the specific words.

Here’s an example in my first book (still in need of editing, but you’ll get the point):

The small, highly maneuverable ships buzzed around the now stationary cargo ship, staying just outside her weapons’ lock. Armed to the teeth, the Marauders fired on them indiscriminately.

At least that’s how it seemed at first. After watching several minutes, Kallie discerned a method to their attack. While half the squadron drew Maverick’s fire, the other half zoomed in closer and concentrated on the rear section in an effort to take out her engines and shields.

Maverick shuddered and the lights dimmed.

"They’ve taken out our shields, Captain," Nate said.

Kallie raised her eyebrows at the string of expletives exploding out of Captain Navek.

"Tell the batteries to concentrate their fire on the closest ships," he said. "They’ll attempt to attach and cut through the hull. I want every person armed and ready."

Luckily newer labeled Christian fiction is more edgy. As I said before, people are tiring of feel-good books, and want the characters and the challenges they face to be more raw – more natural. The reader wants to relate to the characters and their circumstances, and that can’t happen if everything is pure and perfect.

1 thought on “Christian Fiction – The Fuzzy Genre

  1. As a Christian who doesn’t read Christian fiction for some of the reasons you stated (most Christians do curse and have sex outside of marriage — that’s reality, and it’s hypocritical to act like none of us do), I look forward to reading yours.
    Yes, I believe unreasonable violence is much, much worse than cursing and still, it’s reality, as well. I completely agree that to leave cursing out of a novel where its characters would of course use it is silly and looks childish. There should be a line, though. I read one where the F word is used repetitively for no reason other than shock value. It turned me off, although I do have characters who use that word at times. It makes me uncomfortable to put it in, but I have to be true to the characters. I hope, as long as it’s not overdone, my audience will understand.
    The one thing I don’t ever, ever do is to use God’s name in vain. I don’t do it in real life and I won’t allow my characters to do so. There are plenty of other ways to curse. 😉


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