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Roger J Carlson
07-21-2006, 04:42 PM
What challenges do you as a Christian face in writing secular fiction?

Roger J Carlson
07-21-2006, 04:46 PM
I'll start off.

I write YA fantasy and SF. I want to have a Christian message or at least a Christian friendly atmosphere in everything I write. I have difficulty adding that message without sounding preachy.

Gravity
07-21-2006, 05:18 PM
Roger: it's a challenge, I'll admit. But I think it can be done. Viz. the later works of Dean Koontz: One Door Away From Heaven, The Face, Life Expectancy, and others. Granted, we're talking the extraordinary talent level of Dean Koontz here (IMHO, no one does it better), but still.

Robin Bayne
07-21-2006, 06:43 PM
Interesting topic.

Nateskate
07-21-2006, 10:52 PM
J.R.R Tolkien's writing impacted me profoundly in that LOTR transcended labels. Secular/Christian/Religious forces would like to claim him as their own, and that's misleading in some cases. He was a spiritual man who wrote a book. If you want to look at Eru/Iluvatar, the God of his story, you will find spiritual food for thought.

I think a Christian can be led to presume that everything they write has to be an allegory about the Gospel Message, which is either outright or more veiled as with Chronicles of Naria. Why is it unspiritual to write the next LOTR, a book that touched so many people, including spiritual people, on a deep level?

The story of the Prodigal Son does not mention the words "God or prayer or Jesus or cross", and yet it is the most profoundly spiritual story. Obviously within the context it was given by Jesus, it was about God, but even as a template, a spiritual person writing about life doesn't have to be formulaic.

sassandgroove
07-28-2006, 01:26 AM
I actually asked something similar, but specific to my own WIP, I think It may have been wiped in the great june data wipe, though.

My WIP has two worlds. One is an earth colony, so I can work out their religion, (Which, not so coincidently will resemble my own beliefs.) But the other world has never come into contact with earth or even humans before. The religion in their world is intregal with the politics and culture. In my mind, they are worshipping the same God, the same Creator, we (I) do, but I haven't quite figured out yet how to convey that. They wouldn't know Jesus, per se, so I have to figure out how God has manifested himself to this world. Plus, I want it to be subtle and not preachy. One thing I've worked on some is writing some of their scripture. I thought if I could actually have something for my characters to quote/refer too, plus just knowing it, would make the story more believable. I didn't realize until I started how much of the bible I've absorbed. I've had to stop myself from 'quoting', especially Paul. I'm not one of those people who remembers exacts, I can't tell you the chapter and verse, but I remember a lot of the content and meaning.

EDIT/ADD Also, I will say, writing a creation story and prophecies has helped me to flesh out the entire world/ story. It is neat.

C. L. Richardson
07-28-2006, 07:56 PM
When I was a young Christian my biggest challenge was leaving profanity out of the dialogue. I was so used to hearing it and using it, it was hard coming up with ways to avoid it.

Edgarallenwannabe
07-28-2006, 09:12 PM
That's a real struggle....and hopefully this won't be an unpopular thing to say...but even as we write fiction, we (or I) feel called to replay life AS IT IS, with all the warts and unsightly nasal hairs (hmmm. Not sure of this analogy).

As Christian writers, we have the responsibility to conduct ourselves through our writing in way that honors and glorifies God. However...when an unsaved person/character walks into a room to discover a headless corpse (murder mystery), they aren't going to say the following, by and large, in the real world:

"Oh my stars and garters!"
"Oh heavens!"
"Oh goodness gracious!"

They'd probably swear and then puke. And there's only so many times I can substitute "Blast it!" for a swear word, or use, He cursed violently under his breath.... before I start wincing at the lameness.

I struggle with the swearing too, not because of a past sin life, but from a stylistic perspective. I want readers to think of a character, "Holy cow, he's so real....he's like the guy who lives down the road from me!" And honestly, the guy down the road from me swears quite a bit.

I've come to the point where I won't write the "swears" in, but I sometimes think if I get lucky enough to get published, I'll just write a straight novel under a pen name for kicks, and have a little linquistic fun.

Robin Bayne
07-28-2006, 09:23 PM
If you write a romance aimed at the CBA, readers and editors expect a story without explicit love scenes or language.

When you are a Christian writing one for the ABA market, it gets a little tricky. Readers have certain expectations and unless you are good enough to satisfy the reader without being explicit, your book won't sell. Many publishers have found the steamiest stuff is the best selling.

I started in this business writing time travel romance for a secular (small) publisher, who has grown and now has their books in Waldens and Borders stores. They know what sells, and now publish only romance, mysteries and paranormals that are spicy, steamy, etc., all the way up to carnal.

My biggest frustration as a Christian writer is that I can no longer publish with this company, since they don't believe "sweet" or inspirational romance sells.

Soyarma
07-30-2006, 08:33 PM
An author I found who can portray non-christian characters acurately and convincingly is Frank E Peretti. He wrote the This Present Darkness book and Piercing the Darkness awhile back. I don't recall exactly how he portrayed his characters, but I do remember that they were very gritty and probably right at the edge of what you can get away with.

Sassandgroove, if you're looking for some good ways to know and understand God (or rather you're looking for your characters to have a way to do so) check out C.S. Lewis's 'Mere Christianity'. In the first chapter of that book he determines that there are three ways to know God. Through his word (the Bible), his creation (the physical world) and through man (made in his image). Lewis then says (paraphrased) "some people don't believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. The other two should be enough, we'll proceed to prove the existence of God, his creation of the universe, and the necessity and even event of sacrifcing part of himself to save it."

Lewis actually pulls it off impressively and I often use that first chapter of Mere Christianity in discussions with people who discount the bible out of hand.

SeanDSchaffer
07-31-2006, 01:04 AM
My challenges in writing secular fiction generally have to do with the subject matter of my works. I know many Christians who tell me that my writing in Fantasy is automatically against God, because I like to write about dragons and similar creatures.


Another thing I have to deal with constantly, is writing realistic scenes into my work, and at the same time being right with God....or other Christians. I'm not so much worried about what God thinks of certain things, because I know what His Word says. I am more worried about what Christians will think, because there are so many different ideas of what is decent and what is profane.

For example, I was raised to use substitute words for common oaths. I became very used to saying, "Darn it" when I got angry. Then, when I was a teenager, I learned that such words were called 'Minced Oaths', after having been rebuked for something I'd always done that had been considered harmless. To one person, a character saying "Gosh Darn it," is fine, whereas another will think that character is taking God's Name in vain. Trying to write something realistic that is not also offensive to many people, is one of the major challenges I face in my writing.


Finally, there is the occasional sex scene in my work. How to make it passionate and decent at the same time, can be a frightening challenge to me, because most modern sex scenes fly in the face of how I was raised.


Those are the basic challenges I have to deal with in my writing of secular fiction.

Laurie
07-31-2006, 01:52 PM
I struggle with the swear words and the sexual scenes too. I do use a few swear words though, because it is portraying people as they are at that point in their life. Nature isn't just roses and sunsets. It's swamp muck and mosquitoes too.

Sex was covered pretty extensively in Song of Soloman, so I figure if I'm not more explicit than that, I'm in safe territory.

I do find 'wise people', be it priests, ministers or old people, showing up in my writing. They say a lot for me in a way that doesn't come across out of context or jarring.

The bottom line is the story. What will the reader come away with. There's a lot of steamy storylines in the Bible. Murder, incest, adultry etc and etc.... because that is life. If I write of life, but with a purpose beyond titillation, then I think I've done my job.

Christian ideals can be found in the strangest of places. I found the movie Tombstone to have a scene that was very moving for me in a Christian sense. When Doc Holliday stepped out in the river to fight along side of Wyatt, for no other reason than he was his friend, it was a touching visual of 'greater love hath no man than he be willing to lay down his life for a friend'.

Secular fiction has the ability to reach millions who wouldn't pick up a Christian book. The way to do that, I suppose, goes back the writing adage of - show don't tell. If Doc Holiday had come up spouting scripture it would have been ridiculous and the impact would have been lost. His actions showed what was in his heart.

Unique
07-31-2006, 03:44 PM
Sean - two writers I'd recommend to study re: sex scenes w/o sex
1)Nicholas Sparks
2)Elizabeth Hunter

Because both of them build the tension - you know what's going to happen - but they don't go on to describe in detail what happens.

.....and then they did. I've found nothing lacking in the way they portray their characters' needs and motivations. ;) Any adult with any experience can use their imagination. (Or just keep on with the story)

As a reader, I appreciate not having to wade through the details.

L.Jones
07-31-2006, 04:17 PM
The way I see it, good writing, pure storytelling, compelling characters all come from the same starting point. The truth. There must be the element of truth (even if it is, in a sense the truth of fiction - true for that story, true to that character not an actual event or person) and you must bring your own truth to everything you write.

You will not likely see long lasting success trying to write in conflict with who you are, your world view and beliefs. Who you are will come out and as long as you are rooted in the truth I don't think it matters that you write "Christian" or secular. You are the same writer, it comes from the same well.

Example: I started out writing secular romances, sweet, but not "Christian". Many years ago I was awakened by a phone call -- a woman was deperate, she had met me at a booksigning a year before and I had given her my number as a contact for our RWA chptr (was an officer back then). Her mother had been rushed to the hospital in my town for emergency surgery. The women knew no one there. While packing to come to the hosp, rushing around her house she caught a glimpse of a slip of paper behind her couch. My number.
Now, here's where you realize that no matter what you write, YOU as an author are in the pages - she said, I went and got you book and looked at it and just knew you were a Christian and that you would know a prayer group to pray for my mom.

I was and did.

My secular writing has taken me places that Christian authorship will never see. It enables me to take a stand, to be an example (I shudder to imagine that!!) of Christ's love or to merely shine a light in dim places.

annie jones (The Sisterhood of the Queen Mamas - Dec 06)
Luanne Jones (Heathen Girls -out now, MMP out Jan 07)

Patricia
07-31-2006, 04:21 PM
I struggle with preachy too.

bylinebree
08-01-2006, 08:32 AM
Great thread.

I too encountered judging-kind of responses from fellow believers, when I'd say my book is a fantasy. It's because so much of that genre is sorcery, darkness and Godless-weirdness. Well, I say let's redeem it but write excellently!

It helped me to read the Firebird series by Kathy Tyers, which is EXCELLENT. She shows a pre-Messianic galactic empire that is just fascinating. I grew up on Tolkien and Lewis, my role-models. They showed me that it is all right to use the imagination God gave you...

Romance/sex is an issue for me, too, because I do portray "both sides" of it; not too graphically - but I don't mince around, either. This is a real hang-up in Christian writing, which is why I don't plan to market the CBA.

However, at our writers' conference someone said the CBA is looking for "steamier stuff" so go figure.

But spiritually, it took me a while to have an "Ah Ha!" moment with my first book. I realized I didn't have to give the "whole gospel" -- that this one book's purpose was to present a small section of very important spiritual truths. (This was to show one pagan person's journey to finding the One God he could have a relationship with.) Man, when I realized that it was that a relief to me!

Sorry if I'm bouncing all over the place here.

Dan A Lewis
08-01-2006, 11:01 AM
My favorite Christian writer (Shusaku Endo, dead now) filled his stories with the sinners, failures, traitors, and apostates. I suppose he did it because people who aren't perfect were more interesting to write with, but also because he needed to write stories about faith in trouble. As a Japanese Catholic, he was a fish out of water in his culture. His novels are unique, really amazing, and some of them are also rated R or worse, because that's just the story he had to tell.

I guess you just shouldn't be afraid of the story you have to tell. If it's too dark and dirty and steamy and graphic and gritty and violent and disturbing, maybe it doesn't belong in the Christian bookstores anyway.

sassandgroove
08-02-2006, 11:22 PM
If reading/writing fantasy is a sin, then my parents, who happen to be ministers, and are avid fantasy readers (and my dad a writer) are going to hell in a handbasket. Not to mention me and my hubby. I really dislike judgmental people.

Thanks to Soyarma for the suggestion. I have Mere Christianity, I just haven't read it yet. I will look at it.

The whole sex thing. That is an issue with me, too. In my story, the girls start out seeking. They seek in the wrong places and aren't exactly chaste. It is part of their story. I have to tell it, or I would be lying, but i worry about those jusdgemental people in the back of my head. I guess I should just tell them to shut up.

bubblegirl
08-03-2006, 06:44 AM
I'm a christian writer, but write secular work also. I grew up both christian and around "normal, troublesome kids." My father, who is atheist, taught me way too many disgusting jokes, which I'll never repeat.

When I write, my limitations are on what I feel inappropriate for ME to write about. For example, I would not feel I'm doing right by the Lord if I wrote pornography, glorified murder, or encouraged satanic cults and the like. In my autobiography, however, I have touched briefly on an abusive sexual relationship out of wedlock because I wanted to show teens that having sex isn't the best thing in the world -- unless you truly love the person. Sex can be mechanical unless the feelings are there. This I will always stick to because I believe sex should be the icing on the cake, not the cake alone.

My lead characters will always follow christian values. However, it doesn't mean supporting roles won't be sinners trying to coax the lead role into trouble. Everyone has the devil on their shoulder begging them to follow. The difference is if you choose to follow or not.

Jamesaritchie
08-03-2006, 05:29 PM
That's a real struggle....and hopefully this won't be an unpopular thing to say...but even as we write fiction, we (or I) feel called to replay life AS IT IS, with all the warts and unsightly nasal hairs (hmmm. Not sure of this analogy).

As Christian writers, we have the responsibility to conduct ourselves through our writing in way that honors and glorifies God. However...when an unsaved person/character walks into a room to discover a headless corpse (murder mystery), they aren't going to say the following, by and large, in the real world:

"Oh my stars and garters!"
"Oh heavens!"
"Oh goodness gracious!"

They'd probably swear and then puke. And there's only so many times I can substitute "Blast it!" for a swear word, or use, He cursed violently under his breath.... before I start wincing at the lameness.

I struggle with the swearing too, not because of a past sin life, but from a stylistic perspective. I want readers to think of a character, "Holy cow, he's so real....he's like the guy who lives down the road from me!" And honestly, the guy down the road from me swears quite a bit.
.

Try reading writers who know how to handle this. It isn't necessary to use the swear words OR the substitutes for them. Substitutes just don't do the job. Dean Koontz is very good at this.

Or try reading all those wonderful writers who wrote novels before strong swear words were allowed to be published. Funny how no one reads them and calls the characters unrealistic.

There are many realistic ways of handling this "problem," and if you read enough writers who have used these ways masterfully, it soon gets to be second nature.

Gravity
08-03-2006, 06:14 PM
I agree. Look at it from a movie point of view, say White Heat, with Jimmy Cagney. Nary a swear word or uncovered boob in the thing, yet frame-for-frame, one would be hard-pressed to find an edgier, more intense film. So yeah, it can be done (I'm under somewhat of the same contraints with my own works). It ain't easy, but it can be done.

Becky Writes
08-09-2006, 11:13 PM
I guess my biggest challenge as a Christian writing secular works is the "preachy" thing, too. I want everyone to be a Christian. Now, I don't have a problem making my Christian characters do sinful things (get drunk, have sex, curse) because even some Christians do those things. It's life. My biggest problem is keeping the characters from praying and talking about Jesus all the time.

A beta reader told me that it was too unbelieveable that a group of friends (there were 10 main and sub characters) would all the the same religion and hold the same beliefs. I didn't think it was unbelievable at all. The couples my husband and I aren friends with are all Christians, too, but I guess someone who is not wouldn't understand that.

sassandgroove
08-10-2006, 01:28 AM
Yeah, when I was in college, I attended the college bible study at a large church. On a bad day we had 20, usually more like 40. A lot of those people had grown up together. (I was the new kid on the block...) I'd say most of them are still friends even now that they are out of school. I dont' mean all 40 get together, I mean subgroups, some certainly 10 in size. People who haven't been in that environment don't get it. The college I went to had people from all over the world, with all different beliefs. A couple good firends I've had are athiest (I think they're agnostic) and were always asking me questions ranging me from what did the college bible study do (for fun and in the study) to what I believed. Kept me on my toes!

ETA: I sorta rambled there a bit....

Roger J Carlson
08-10-2006, 04:20 PM
Yeah, when I was in college, I attended the college bible study at a large church. On a bad day we had 20, usually more like 40. A lot of those people had grown up together. (I was the new kid on the block...) I'd say most of them are still friends even now that they are out of school. I dont' mean all 40 get together, I mean subgroups, some certainly 10 in size. People who haven't been in that environment don't get it. The college I went to had people from all over the world, with all different beliefs. A couple good firends I've had are athiest (I think they're agnostic) and were always asking me questions ranging me from what did the college bible study do (for fun and in the study) to what I believed. Kept me on my toes!

ETA: I sorta rambled there a bit....Not at all. In fact, this forum is very much like your college. Yes, it has a Christian focus, but there is a wide range of beliefs represented here, from ultra-conservative to ultra-liberal to atheist. Modding here has been an education for me as well and a reminder that the whole world is not like my church.

Jenny
08-14-2006, 08:28 AM
What about stories which you write and think are Christain, but which other people don't classify as Christian because they have a different morality? So is it the morality within and forming the story which makes a story Christian, or is it the story's message of faith, hope or charity?

bylinebree
08-14-2006, 09:17 AM
A beta reader told me that it was too unbelieveable that a group of friends (there were 10 main and sub characters) would all the the same religion and hold the same beliefs. I didn't think it was unbelievable at all. The couples my husband and I aren friends with are all Christians, too, but I guess someone who is not wouldn't understand that.

You're broadening that beta readers's horizons, in a way. So now she knows that it IS possible. Just portray it in very believeably and not too sugary-sweet (I don't like reading stuff like that either!)

If it's too unbelievable for other test readers, maybe you need to vary the characters and their interactions more. I heard in a fiction wkshop that it's too easy for us to create characters like ourselves or what we'd like to be -- our first inclination isn't always the best. We were told to "twist" our ideas to make them more unique. Then give depth and individuality to your characters and their relationships.

If you got into more detail, even with your friends, surely there wouldn't be all the "same exact" beliefs down to each issue. This is what makes life, and stories, interesting.

sassandgroove
08-14-2006, 09:38 PM
Not at all. In fact, this forum is very much like your college. Yes, it has a Christian focus, but there is a wide range of beliefs represented here, from ultra-conservative to ultra-liberal to atheist. Modding here has been an education for me as well and a reminder that the whole world is not like my church.

Right, exactly. Christianity offers a wide array of people and beliefs, BUt there is a church culture. People who don't attend church don't nessessarily understand that. That's all I'm sayin'.


EDIT, changed Christian Culture to Church Culture

citymouse
08-15-2006, 06:21 AM
My lead characters will always follow christian values. However, it doesn't mean supporting roles won't be sinners trying to coax the lead role into trouble. Everyone has the devil on their shoulder begging them to follow. The difference is if you choose to follow or not.

BG, when I read your remark I said to myself, Comrade!
I write a series of books subtitled A Jan Phillips Novel. BTW Jan is a man. Anyway, he has two entities that are sometimes troublesome. Sometimes I refer to them as his angels and sometimes they are his imps. I think these kinds of devices can be very useful in communicating turmoil and faith with out being negative or preachy.
Here is a snippet from my latest novel.
Jan leaned forward, his hands palm down on a long table that stretched below the dark window. Soft light drizzled down through intricate grills set deep into the ceiling. A blast of wind slapped at the window’s thick glass with insolent fury, yet Jan heard nothing. He stared at his reflection in the ebony wood.
If I could take that moment back, would I?
There wasno answer to ease his mind.
Jan’s angel asked, What are you going to say to him? How are you going to explain it all to him without trashing his mother’s memory? He’s only fourteen. He can’t know what it was like married to a woman dominated by alcoholic parents who neither wanted nor liked their second daughter. She needed far more than just an attentive husband. You couldn’t have known that when you married her.
Jan’s devil said, Look, that ***** gave you nothing but three years of hell. Why make her a martyr? Now’s your chance! You’ve got her kid. You can make him into anything you want!
“Stop it, both of you and let me think!” Jan shouted into his reflection.

bylinebree
08-17-2006, 08:43 AM
Right, exactly. Christianity offers a wide array of people and beliefs, BUt there is a church culture. People who don't attend church don't nessessarily understand that. That's all I'm sayin'.


EDIT, changed Christian Culture to Church Culture

Very true, Sass. And each kind of church/denomination has it's lingo, too. I've been in several, and one esp. for many years now, and we get very used to our own Church Cultures. It's easy to get too isolated and out of touch with the "real world" out there.

I get a shock when I hobnob with other kinds of folks, and it's a good wake-up call for me. Let's me know there are other views in another world that isn't church-i-fied.

And I find it sad that, when we do try to share how we as Christians really do love and fellowship with each other, even have unity and peace, they don't believe it really exists. (guess that's why they need to see it and not just hear about it, huh?)

erika
08-18-2006, 01:58 AM
I'm wondering if I wrote a Christian book or a non-Christian book. It's got a lot of theological discussion. The main character debates on whether giving her boyfriend hand jobs is ungodly and she toys with killing a man to get some publicity. Obviously, it's a satire and I'm making a much larger point with it. In that sense, it is very Christian. But the story, sexual content and sarcasm wouldn't typically be considered Christian. It's a humorous story of spiritual struggle, but some mainstream Christians might take offense.

Do I need to apply a label?

Erika

Roger J Carlson
08-18-2006, 04:55 PM
If your other thread (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=38706)is a sample of this story, I think it will be a hard sell to the Christian market. Its humor is aimed at the market you would be trying to sell it to. It's tough to make people laugh at themselves, especially about something as deeply held as doctrinal beliefs.

On the other hand, the theological content would make it tough going for a non-Christian reader.

You might do better to make it straight fiction rather than trying for humor. If you made it a serious story about a woman's struggle to reconcile standard doctrine with personal experience, you might be able to sell it as a Christian story. Granted, a lot of Christian markets will expect the problem to resolve itself in favor of accepted doctrine, but not all.

erika
08-18-2006, 05:16 PM
You're right I know. I am coming to the realization that if I want to be a published Christian writer, I will have to change my approach. Right now, unfortunately, I don't think that will happen, for I am far too jaded and cynical at the moment. But hopefully, in time, that will all change and I can put my writing to better use.

Alas, I am beholden to the whims of providence and shall go whereever they blow me. Oh well, even if what I write now isn't publishable, I'm still learning much from it. And I'm certain I'll be better for it.

Thanks for the advice.

Roger J Carlson
08-18-2006, 05:56 PM
I'd say put it in a drawer and keep writing, even if it's the same kind of thing. No writing is wasted, even if it's never sold. In time, you might find the market has changed to accept it, or you might find you've changed. Who knows?

You also might try writing for the secular market with sympathetic Christian characters who have real struggles. There's a real dirth of Christian characters that aren't caricatures of one sort or another. Leave the theology out and write a good story.

SeanDSchaffer
08-18-2006, 08:54 PM
There's a real dirth of Christian characters that aren't caricatures of one sort or another. Leave the theology out and write a good story.


Roger makes a good point here, Erika. If you can write characters that are realistic and that do not read like caricatures, you might be able to get your story sold to a good company that would get your book the exposure you're looking for.

Plus, if you take the theology out, but maybe leave little teasers in, you might reach a larger audience in the secular world, as well.

One thing I never could stand were (and I in fact think very highly of the organization that makes these films) the films by Billy Graham where a person is searching for answers and finds them--almost every time; this is why I don't like them--at a Billy Graham crusade. I think in real life that does happen, but preachers can't be everywhere at once, and many people find their answers on a park bench reading a book, or talking to a friend at the local coffee shop.

My point is that many people feel disconcerted when they read a book filled with heavy theology. If you write a good story, however, with teasers and tid-bits of what you're trying to bring across, more people, IMO, would be willing to read your work.

Case-in-point: Wyverinia Chronicles. That was my *cough, cough* PA book. One reviewer I remember said that the book was "Disconcerting" to her because she was not a Christian, and there was so much Christianity in the book that it actually hindered her ability to enjoy the work.

And I did put way too much theology in the work. Had I given just teasers or tid-bits (and gone with a legitimate publisher) I think more people would have enjoyed the work and perhaps gotten the message I was trying to bring across with it, than actually did.

But IMO it's a matter of giving less theology and more story, to the readers. If the theology is in little bits, it will be easier to digest and maybe not so overwhelming as to close their minds to what you're saying.


Good luck! I wish you the best.

erika
08-18-2006, 09:01 PM
You are all right, however, if the story is about a woman's quest to get her risque Christian novel published and her starting an unconventional Church geared to hardened sinners, some theology is required. Plus, if (big IF) it's done in an entertaining way, couldn't it be ignored?

And to throw another comment out there, what about Ayn Rand (my idol)? Granted I'm no objectivist philosopher, but all of her fiction had a deep political point. She used the story as a vehicle. And in my opinion, it doesn't get any better than "Atlas Shrugged."

SeanDSchaffer
08-18-2006, 09:15 PM
Plus, if (big IF) it's done in an entertaining way, couldn't it be ignored?



Indeed it could be. But not everyone is going to ignore it. Look at The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis. It's one of the Chronicles of Narnia. Wonderful reading, and so light in the theology department that when I first read it, I did not know there were any theological messages in it.

BUT, when I look back on the work, I can see examples of Christian theology in a couple places. Not the least of which is where Eustace became a dragon, and Aslan the Lion changed him back into a boy. The process was hard for Eustace to handle, but when Aslan was finished, Eustace was himself again....and became a better person as a result of his experience in the end of the book.

So, yeah, people may be able to ignore the message at first. But it sticks with many of them, deep in their hearts. Your story, if a person looked at it only as good entertainment, might eventually lead that person to Christ, or help them develop into a better person in other ways. The fact that a person can ignore the message, does not negate the fact that the message can still come back to them at a later time and help them find answers to questions they might have.

The thing you have to remember is that when you plant a seed, it takes time for it to grow. Time, and water, and sunshine, are needed as well to make a seed grow. The same is true in a person's spiritual life.

Lolly
08-20-2006, 02:00 AM
I love this thread! I can relate to many things mentioned. In particular, the part about not having sex. My hero and heroine are both Christians, but they still feel the temptation. That's just being realistic. My husband and I are Christian, but we certainly felt tempted while we were dating. So how do you build sexual tension, yet keep them from sleeping together without sounding like a sermon for "True Love Waits"? :Huh:


And I can also relate to the issue of dealing with swearing. As part of the story my heroine goes to a prison to minister to the prisoners. Although they're women prisoners, they're still prostitutes, murderers, etc. How do you portray them without swearing or graphic descriptions of their crimes?

Somebody mentioned Frank Peretti. His first two novels were stereotypical--pure Christians fight and defeat evil villains. However, in his later novels he's moved away from that and created characters that are much edgier and less black-and-white. I reccommend him as a good example of how to balance Christianity with realistic characters.

authorilinca
12-09-2009, 12:52 AM
oh, thank God I found you guys! This is such a touchy topic in my home, especially recently. For years, I've been working on a book that has to do with 2 worlds. One, the modern world we know today and two, the LOTR type world with elves and dragons, etc etc etc. My hub does not support me in anything that I write because he thinks I'm "dirtying my soul" or something though I've never written about anything but the battle between good and evil with some romantic elements on the side. (nothing graphic or overly sexual. just enough to make your heart thump an extra thump) Anyway, as I'm trying to get that published, I'm starting to think about my next WIP which will be about a girl who can shapeshift in to wolf (not a werewolf). She doesnt know why or how but her mother could do it too and she later finds a pack of people like her. Theres nothing about eating people or worshipping anything but just the idea of a human doing something like turning into an animal will make my church look on me as writing something sinful. I just dont understand and now I've been questioning my writing! I know it sounds ridiculous to question oneself but my only social life at the moment is my church (im a sahm and a hermit at the same time). Anyone else ever have a similar problem? I dont even know what to say to them anymore.

EDIT: Also, I've found myself not writing a scene that I felt would be looked down upon by christians. I mean, I stopped myself from writing something that I didn't feel was right to write. Everthing that I DO have written has never made me feel like God is looking on me with sad eyes. Do I not get any credit for watching my writing in the first place and feeling what is and isnt okay to put on paper?

Deb Kinnard
12-09-2009, 03:54 AM
You get a heap of credit in my book. It'd be very easy to write to the larger market, turn our inner Christian off to make a bunch of money. I'm told erotica (soft porn) is the easiest way to make money in romance publishing these days (romance is my niche of the Christian market).

Kudos to you for running a straight race.

SLake
12-10-2009, 03:31 AM
Sassandgrove.

I had a think about your problem of having Christianity on your "alien planet" and I hope I have something useful to offer you, and I see that other folk have offered generous ideas too.

I'd go back to the core of our own world in which we are free to do as we please but with certain specific Rules. The Commandments I think are to a point, race specific. Shall not Steal, for example may not be relevant to your alien race if maybe it is a planet of abundance, or for some other reason there is no point stealing. Then there'd be no need for the word Steal and of course there are similar examples among the languages of earth. So I hope that point is useful (if you haven't already thought of it, and I suppose you have!) because I'm the process of a Sci Fi myself. (But set without a human equivalent).

Christ was prophet, as everyone surely knows :) and they come with a message - a correction, an annotation according to The Rules, so that personally I can see a Christ-like character fitting in quite well with your story. Your story offers the possibility of many fascinating variations - visions, miracles - be a whole different thing entirely, according to your particular alien race. Many races and religions claim prophets, so I think they would also offer you useful references regarding the diverse alien outlooks that you seek.

Several folk have mentioned Tolkien, and good grief, his worlds were complex, so I don't envy your task, but do it well and the result will be fascinating, surely also offering a parallax view of our own world.

Rhys Cordelle
12-10-2009, 06:08 PM
I don't understand why some christians react negatively to fantasy novels. Why be offended by a work of fiction?

Roger J Carlson
12-10-2009, 07:20 PM
I don't understand why some christians react negatively to fantasy novels. Why be offended by a work of fiction?Perhaps it's similar to the way that some non-Christians reacted negatively (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/dec/05/cslewis.booksforchildrenandteenagers) to the religious overtones of the Chronicles of Narnia.

authorilinca
12-12-2009, 05:47 PM
Thank you, Deb :)

Elias Graves
12-14-2009, 05:34 PM
I try to go about writing the same way I go about life:
I'm a Christian and therefore everything I do is colored through that lens. People who meet me casually may not know my motivations but they see who I am through my actions.
All of my writing, then, has that same motivation behind it. Whatever story I tell is colored through that lens. Don't sell your readers short. They can see where you are coming from without being told.

EG

vava52406
12-22-2009, 08:28 AM
I think the best thing about writing for the secular market would be trying to make my characters behave as Christians without anyone knowing. The secular market gives me a chance to work without limitations therefore my characters are free to mistakes and learn from them instead of having to work within a barrier.

heyjude
12-22-2009, 05:25 PM
Great point, vava.

This is an issue I struggle with--writing secular fic. The other day I had an epiphany of sorts. No matter how dark the world we live in, there is always a light of hope, even if it is just a ray off in the distance. I strive to show that light in the darkest of situations. If that makes sense.

L.Jones
12-23-2009, 10:41 PM
Many, many, many Christians write what may be called secular fiction, or as people who aren't comparing it to Christian publishing, just fiction :) . Publishers of Christian fiction certainly have their expectations, according to their own world view and that of those who buy their books. Other houses have their expectations but those tend to be divided by lines, genres, even authors.

I have never been told to dial back the Christian/faith element in books not written for Christian audiences (I admit it's not hit over the head strong, but it is there). It all comes down to what works for the book, what fits the character and the story and how well you handle it in the writing.

annie jones