When we write Christian Fiction, are we writing about heaven? And if we’re not in heaven yet, are all our characters Christians? I am so tired of the so-called constraints of the genre. The main character cannot drink alcohol, or curse, or have sex before marriage. What world are you writing about? And what if the main character did all those things before they got saved? Must the book start only after they met Jesus? And surely, even if the main character was a clone of Jesus, all their friends and acquaintances couldn’t possibly be clones of Jesus too. I’m just saying. That’s not the real world. I have been told even words like "crap" as an exclamation are borderline and it's best to stay away from it.
While we must not overdo the negatives and we must make sure to paint the negatives as negatives and show a positive progression or have an underlying Christian message, can we not just write about how it is in real life, how people talk in real life, how people act in real life and for Pete’s sake how people live in real life?
As long as it’s not young adult fiction, surely, adults can keep it real? One would assume, but maybe not.
I am so tired of seeing the phrase, she called me anything but a child of God. Whenever was the last time someone said to you, “You are anything but a child of God” and you were offended by it in the same sense? I know we can’t dwell on the curse words and all but come on, can we be a little more innovative here? I have to say I have only seen that phrase used well in one book recently and because of how true to life the whole story was, it didn’t bother me the same. That would be Delilah by Ms Shelia Goss. Kudos!
And even if all our characters were Christians, do these people never falter? Do Christian brothers and sisters never have sex outside of marriage? Seriously? Do they never have an evil thought or do they never do something bad when nobody is looking?
Pre-marital sex can be explored in a secondary character but not in the main character. That’s a common one in those submission guidelines. I sigh every time I see that phrase. How do you truly connect with the people if your characters don’t sound anything like them or like anyone they know? While I am not advocating for full sex scenes, surely, in the history of this world, there has been a Christian sister who did things she was not supposed to do. Does anybody know one?
I am reading A Woman’s Secret by a friend of mine, Toyin Adon-Abel and I love that it is not all stiff and uptight because it is a Christian book. He slips in the Christian undertone even without you noticing. He gets around the issues of language with a few scattered explicit words in some parts and yet in other parts, some dashes (–) and dots (…). While I’m not quite sure about the dashes and dots, he definitely made progress on what I’ve seen commonly. It’s a great read with an unusual and thought provoking plot and anyone will enjoy it.
Thank God for the few authors who are keeping it real but every time I read the submission guidelines for traditional publishers, I have to ask myself how do I write what I want to write, make it as real as I want it to be but still get a book deal from one of them? It seems almost impossible. But I will forge ahead till I get where I want.
Most of what we have on the market now is still for a restricted audience is what I’m saying. Thankfully, it's not all. If only Christians can stomach reading your book, then have you really helped save a soul? Fine, you’re touching and inspiring Christians. But what is being written for the non-saved who just wants a good read? I’m not saying there are none of such. I’m just saying we need more.
I know I’m a newbie and I don’t know much yet but is it too much to ask that Christian books sound like real life? And while I know that style works perfectly for some, how about others, like me? Can some of us please, please, please not write in Christianese 100% of the time?
Where are my overcomers at? Let’s do this. Watch out for my next book, Anonymous Gift Giver, coming soon. I have not queried anyone yet but I’m getting there. I will not disappoint you!