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Dixie
03-07-2007, 11:42 PM
I am in the middle of a thriller WIP and in it I involve a Baptist Minister and his wife in on it, and those chapters are usually pretty religious with the minister praying and such. In other chapters, my main characters language gets pretty salty and her sexuality becomes questionable. She hasn't committed any vile acts yet, and I'm still not sure if she will or not, just letting things play out at the moment. But also would it be wrong to involve ghosts of dead people and such? I want the book to grab attention and make people think, but at the same time I don't want to come across as offensive and turn potential readers off.

Thanks,
Dixie

citymouse
03-08-2007, 12:45 AM
Vile acts? Not everyone would agree with that characterization.

As for spirits or ghosts they certainly are scriptural. If this is fiction, your ghosts could be the spirits of those who have lived and God has sent them to watch over your character(s). Jesus speaks of the angels who watch over children "...for I tell you they behold the Face of My Father." Are these angels among the spirits God created in the beginning? Perhaps they are those of men and women who have lived are commaned to remain here to watch over us.

Now there's a story line for you!
Good luck!
C

Sean D. Schaffer
03-08-2007, 07:16 AM
I am in the middle of a thriller WIP and in it I involve a Baptist Minister and his wife in on it, and those chapters are usually pretty religious with the minister praying and such. In other chapters, my main characters language gets pretty salty and her sexuality becomes questionable. She hasn't committed any vile acts yet, and I'm still not sure if she will or not, just letting things play out at the moment. But also would it be wrong to involve ghosts of dead people and such? I want the book to grab attention and make people think, but at the same time I don't want to come across as offensive and turn potential readers off.

Thanks,
Dixie


I don't know as the situation with the minister and his wife would be all that offensive; however, I can see where some people would have a problem with invoking the spirits of the dead. In the Bible, I believe that's referred to as Necromancy or 'consulting with the dead', and it is listed as a capital sin in the Old Testament.

I wish I could be of more help, but I hope this post has given you some insight, if not all the insight you wanted.

I wish you the very best with your work.

:)

Nateskate
03-08-2007, 06:14 PM
I am in the middle of a thriller WIP and in it I involve a Baptist Minister and his wife in on it, and those chapters are usually pretty religious with the minister praying and such. In other chapters, my main characters language gets pretty salty and her sexuality becomes questionable. She hasn't committed any vile acts yet, and I'm still not sure if she will or not, just letting things play out at the moment. But also would it be wrong to involve ghosts of dead people and such? I want the book to grab attention and make people think, but at the same time I don't want to come across as offensive and turn potential readers off.

Thanks,
Dixie

Hi Dixie,

This question is detailed, but vague. It would be clearer if we knew who is your target audience? What is the point of these revelations? Is there any theological point you hope to get across?

Life mirrors life. People talk salty. People question sexuality and their faith. People fail. So, the content of your story may be relevent, but dependent to the audience you're hoping to reach. Pretty controversial topics can be done in such a way that it's relatively inoffensive.

From a theological standpoint, you'll have some who do not believe in "ghosts", but who believe in "familiar spirits" and "unclean spirits".

In the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, the Rich Man wanted to return to the earth to warn his brothers not to be so imcompassionate as he was, and that wasn't permitted. In fact, it was pointed out that gulfs existed from place to place that prevented spirits living in paradise from going to comfort the spirits in torment. (Which I imagine they'd wish to do)


All the same, if you are doing "fiction" there's a deal of latitude you can use. Tolkien's books are loved by many Christians, and there are ghosts throughout LOTR- in various forms and transitions. The Barrow Wights, the Paths of the Dead, and the Ringwraiths- who were neither living nor dead.

Dixie
03-08-2007, 10:49 PM
Here is a shot at the description of the book:
The main character Dixie is a freelance journalist who loses her best friend in an auto accident. After the death strange things start happening. She is being followed by someone she doesnt yet know, she starts seeing visions of her dead best friend and throughout the book she will question her faith or lack of it and lines of sexuality will be crossed. Life, faith, and death will be questioned and rules will be broken. I want to show the darker side of God, where he does good works through 'bad' people. Both the main character and the minister will be called by God to carry out an unfinished task.

I hope that helps some.

The name Dixie is a current stand-in. I'll likely rename the character later.

Nateskate
03-08-2007, 11:01 PM
Here is a shot at the description of the book:
The main character Dixie is a freelance journalist who loses her best friend in an auto accident. After the death strange things start happening. She is being followed by someone she doesnt yet know, she starts seeing visions of her dead best friend and throughout the book she will question her faith or lack of it and lines of sexuality will be crossed. Life, faith, and death will be questioned and rules will be broken. I want to show the darker side of God, where he does good works through 'bad' people. Both the main character and the minister will be called by God to carry out an unfinished task.

I hope that helps some.

The name Dixie is a current stand-in. I'll likely rename the character later.

Your premise is interesting. I think it can also be one of those things were you can leave it vague- is this a ghost or is she losing it? And it still fits.

I'm not sure what you mean "the darker side of God"? But the Bible is explicit there is a darker side of life. It's a book filled with flawed people to make a pretty specific point, that the book isn't about people, except as they exist in a context. So King David fails terribly, but the point is never that King David is terrible. And it isn't a justification of failure. However, in a context, it helps us understand about Mercy and Sowing and Reaping, and recovery.

Dixie
03-09-2007, 01:11 AM
Good point - she could go either way with the ghosts and the stalker - these could be real omens from God, or she could simply be losing it after taking a huge loss.

The main character herself isn't a firm believer but her best friend was and thats her connection with the church. So basically God is using a non-believer to carry out his work. This in turn causes many questions to arise and many different opinions will be formed. By the 'darker side of God' is seeing that its not neccesarily the devil at work, but that God will use anyone and anymeans to finish his work. The church itself does have some dark things about it - crooked clergy members, scandals, you name it, it happens although it doesn't always make front-page news.

I hope I'm making sense - I'm having one of those 'all-over-the-place' days.

BruceJ
03-09-2007, 05:00 AM
Here is a shot at the description of the book:
The main character Dixie is a freelance journalist who loses her best friend in an auto accident. After the death strange things start happening. She is being followed by someone she doesnt yet know, she starts seeing visions of her dead best friend and throughout the book she will question her faith or lack of it and lines of sexuality will be crossed. Life, faith, and death will be questioned and rules will be broken. I want to show the darker side of God, where he does good works through 'bad' people. Both the main character and the minister will be called by God to carry out an unfinished task.

I hope that helps some.

The name Dixie is a current stand-in. I'll likely rename the character later.
Hey, Dixie!

Sounds interesting. Nate's question, I think, is the crux, though: who's the intended audience? You probably will put some people in the Christian market off--or even sooner, a prospective Christian publisher--with "salty language." (Not sure how much salt is involved. :) ) We've had a lot of discussion on this board regarding that subject. The choice you have, I believe, is balancing how "realistically" you want to represent your characters and how badly you want to be published.

As an aside, I did trip a little over the description of God working through bad people as His "darker side." Not sure what you mean by that, but it's not part of your question and I don't want to take your thread on a tangent.

Dancre
03-09-2007, 05:22 AM
Here is a shot at the description of the book:
The main character Dixie is a freelance journalist who loses her best friend in an auto accident. After the death strange things start happening. She is being followed by someone she doesnt yet know, she starts seeing visions of her dead best friend and throughout the book she will question her faith or lack of it and lines of sexuality will be crossed. Life, faith, and death will be questioned and rules will be broken. I want to show the darker side of God, where he does good works through 'bad' people. Both the main character and the minister will be called by God to carry out an unfinished task.

I hope that helps some.

The name Dixie is a current stand-in. I'll likely rename the character later.

opps!! I guess it helps to read the full post. I see nothing wrong with this one. Go for it. We all have questions!!

kim

Nateskate
03-09-2007, 04:36 PM
Good point - she could go either way with the ghosts and the stalker - these could be real omens from God, or she could simply be losing it after taking a huge loss.

The main character herself isn't a firm believer but her best friend was and thats her connection with the church. So basically God is using a non-believer to carry out his work. This in turn causes many questions to arise and many different opinions will be formed. By the 'darker side of God' is seeing that its not neccesarily the devil at work, but that God will use anyone and anymeans to finish his work. The church itself does have some dark things about it - crooked clergy members, scandals, you name it, it happens although it doesn't always make front-page news.

I hope I'm making sense - I'm having one of those 'all-over-the-place' days.

You are making perfect sense. In honesty- if we only look at Jesus' Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor as a template (see Revelation 2 and 3) It is obvious that some churches (Christians) are screwed up, or misled or living compromised lives. But others are living much like Christ was, and they're beautiful. I'm friends iwth such people.

Throughout history, Christians have failed in times and places, but others have done incredible things. I think it is a mistake to ignore this and portray Christians as always having good motives and always succeeding, and never being flawed. Or implying that non-Christians are always flawed.

So, what you are trying to do has a sophistication. My only caution is to stay in prayer and ask God to give you wisdom on how to strike the balance. Leaning to one side- ignoring the pink elephant in the room- only makes Christianity seem silly and filled with wishful thinkers. But leaning too far to the other side leaves people feeling Jaded.

Another thought- write everything as if your audience will be a broad audience- which I think would cause us to re-think some things we might say. How will a Muslim hear this? An Atheist? A Christian?

You may have a target audience in mind, but I think we're best served if we speak to the masses. That's what Jesus did.

Plot Device
04-15-2007, 09:10 AM
My experience is Christian readers wanna see a reprobate somebody get saved before the book is done. If not saved, then they wanna see a person with a shakey/backsliden faith renew their faith by book's end. If you can deliver on either one or the other as your ending, they'll usually excuse anything else that happens prior.

One caveat: they're not too tolerant of "gratuitous" decadence. So they want it all sanitized a bit. Consider if you will the two angels who were dining at Lot's house in the city of Sodom. The men came and surrounded the house and demanded "Bring out the two men to us so that we might have sex with them!" And in all likelihood, they didn't say it quite like that. They probably said it with a little more colorfulness. But the Bible gives us the PG paraphrase of their words, not the R or NC-17 version that. So Christian readers generally prefer things "nicer." Even Frank Perretti had demons who cursed, but he never quoted their cursings, just loosely implied it. Another great example is "Julie of the Wolves" a children's book (not Christian) where in one flashback sequence it is revealed to us that she got raped. I had to reread the paragraph more than once where she was raped to make sure I was correctly reading what hapened. It was worded with such subtlety and restraint that it almost slipped by me.

I think you CAN have direct and uncensored cursings in a Christian work, as well as violence and other unpleasant things. But you're taking a risk there. You need to justify every bit of it and treat it very gingerly or you'll lose a Christian audience.