Christian Writing The Problem with Christian Storytelling

Dec 9, 2021
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This is why I'm leaning into the label that's been thrown on me: Dark Christian Fantasy.

I'm not writing about pristine squeaky clean constantly repenting and making the right choice characters that I see in the vast majority of Christian fiction. Or the everyone is redeemed in the end because they see the light of salvation. My protagonists are zealous in their walk with God and yet still sin, still think they did the right thing, and still struggle with doubt, fear and whether they made the right choice despite evidence of it all laying at their feet.

I'm running right at subjects of spiritual warfare, discernment, church corruption, racism, genocide, apostacy, betrayal, and inter-Nicene strife. Not subjects that people who want light entertainment want to touch on. But then again, how often do I see this being played out in current Christian fiction where it hasn't been utterly sanitized, ultra-pasteurized and homogenized for the reader's protection? Almost never. I want raw grit. The stuff I feel when dealing with these issues. The dirt of my faith under my fingernails. When the shadows are this dark, the light is so much brighter.

I'm actually working on a presentation (slowly) on the idea of "Story before Sermon" for when I start doing live events because this is one of the most key elements for every storyteller right now in this world of dogmatic chaos and artistic sophistry. Any philosophy or faith that puts their sermon and evangelism before the story will die on the vine to everyone but the most ardent true believers of that dogma. But everyone will open their minds and imaginations to good storytelling and entertainment if that is the primary focus of the creator.
 
Dec 9, 2021
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Right? LOL I had an invite last year, but got super sick from multiple vectors, and haven't been able to focus enough to get back to them with something worth while. At least when I do, it will hopefully be with my new book ready to sell this coming February. (assuming all goes according to plan.
 
Jul 15, 2016
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My thoughts as a Christian writer are that you should write what's on your heart, and no one should dictate that to you. Each person has a somewhat different take on their writing, and I think that is perfectly okay. Just as long as they are sitting down and writing what's on their heart. It may change from day to day, as you examine yourself and hold it to the highest standard, but get it out anyway. Then, put it away in a drawer for three months and come back to it with a clean view, and edit your writing. You'd be surprised what you take out and rewrite.
 
Dec 9, 2021
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Then, put it away in a drawer for three months and come back to it with a clean view, and edit your writing. You'd be surprised what you take out and rewrite.
That's like my 4th novel for the "Akiniwazisaga". I got stalled at around 35-40%, then "Dream Nebula" demanded to be told. It's been simmering on the back burner for almost a year now. I went back to it to re-read some stuff, and stunned myself with how fast I got sucked in to it, but certain things are still... off. I can't figure why, but things are off and don't flow as natural as I'd like between them. It's part of how I got stuck. I didn't understand the decisions or what the logical next step was. But, like I said, it's impressive to see what I wrote and say "yeahhhh.... you didn't write this. You just let God dictate to you what was going on." LOL
 
Dec 9, 2021
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I think that you've got a lot better chances with the "Dream Nebula" selling!
That's what it seems to be trending as. Akiniwazisaga is my "ministry" project, but since Dream Nebula is aimed at being just trade market fun, it will hopefully lead people over to the other project too. I've always known it was a niche market that I hoped would catch on, but it is what it is.
 

Claire Tucker

Copyeditor and Proofreader
Jan 26, 2018
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I've loved reading everyone's responses to this discussion! Thank you, all, for sharing your thoughts!
My thoughts as a Christian writer are that you should write what's on your heart, and no one should dictate that to you. Each person has a somewhat different take on their writing, and I think that is perfectly okay. Just as long as they are sitting down and writing what's on their heart. It may change from day to day, as you examine yourself and hold it to the highest standard, but get it out anyway.
I love this thought, SW.

What this discussion reminded me of is how Tolkien and Lewis had radically different stories to tell and way of telling said stories. Tolkien's faith affected his fiction, but in a far less obvious way than Lewis's. Both addressed real issues faced by their audience, and both their works still resonate with readers across the board today. The same can be true for us.

Ultimately, it comes down to glorifying God with whatever we do, whether that is writing fiction for Christian readers or for secular markets.
 
Apr 9, 2018
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Wow, interesting articles. Thanks for sharing! I agree that Christian Fiction needs to get real about sin and temptation. Haven't seen that so much in ChristFic. I just got through reading a Christian Historical Romance where the hero is said to struggle with alcoholism, but during the entire novel, he never once picks up a drink. He only thinks about it. I found it very unbelievable for the Regency time period where just sitting down to dinner with a friend would have involved alcohol.

But on the other hand, generic, minor-flawed characters and HEAs are an expectation of some genres.
 

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