That is the title of my guest post over at Speculative Faith’s Blog which should be up sometime Friday morning July 6. I want to thank you all, my readers, who replied to my request last week for ideas for this post. You can see from the title which of them was most popular.
This post turned out to be a lot harder to write than I expected. I thought I’d just knock it out, but it took me the entire week.
The question I posed myself was : “Should we as Christian novelists include portrayals of sexual sins, violence or other “dark” events in our fiction, or would that be an automatic violation of Christian standards?”
Then I did a nonstop on the subject. That turned out to be more or less a rant, but it had a lot of energy, as rants often do, so every time I re-read it, it just carried me along and no alternative routes opened up before me. Finally, in desperation, I sent it to a friend for help, and afterward sat down and began to just list my thoughts on the matter as they came, without letting the emotion carry me off.
Turns out I have a lot to say on this subject. More than could be confined in a single blog post, so I had to work on paring it down and getting it focused. It was an experience kinda like trying to fill a plastic trash bag with styrofoam peanuts. Every handful you put in, stirs up the peanuts already in the bag. They go flying out, stick to your hand, the inside of the bag, the outside of the bag… Yeah. Very much like that if you substitute “thoughts” for peanuts.
A lot of prayers went up, and at times I had to vigorously trust that in the end God would make it come clear. Between His help and that of my friend, I believe it did.
Anyway, as I said, it goes up Friday morning, July 6, and I invite you to head on over to Speculative Faith to see for yourself if I succeeded. Feel free to comment there or here, if you are so moved. I’ll try to monitor both places.
Here’s how the post starts:
Ten years ago this summer Bethany House Publishers released my first novel Arena into a literary world of petticoats, bonnets and buggies. This explains its original pink and purple cover, an attempt perhaps to mitigate the fact that it was a significant departure from the usual run of Christian fiction. While Arena does include an element of romance, at heart it is an allegorical adventure with sometimes dark and violent scenes.
I’ve received a full spectrum of responses to it, from “Fabulous!”…. Read the rest here
I think so. We live in a real world filled with things we can’t avoid, why avoid them in writing? Christianity shouldn’t be a safe little bubble where nothing bad or sexual happens. The best writing is the hardest-hitting, and sometimes that stuff has to be included to convey the intended message.
I just read the whole post, and have to say it’s completely fantastic and I believe you hit the nail straight on the head. I love what you say about the battle we are all engaged in, whether we know it or not, and agree that portraying this truthfully in all it’s sin and victory is what sets good speculative fiction apart from the rest. It doesn’t just make it great fiction though, it truly speaks to the condition of our hearts and inspires. Thank you for a particularly great post!
Great post. I left a comment there in support with my reasons.
I am a writer and one day I hope to see my books on a shelf. I believe as a writer that for characters to be real, they have to face real life situations which include dark items. It is just the way life is and in essence all a writer is is “a reporter to a slice of life we witnessed” (from me but I bet someone else already said something like it). It doesn’t matter if we placed that life in a spaceship or a medieval castle, it is still a slice of life. If we shy away from elements of life then it would be like a reporter leaving out some of the facts and when that happens people know something is missing. And then your story will suffer.
Anyway, I could go on and on with this LOL!!
Thanks for the comments, everyone. And for going over to Spec Faith and reading the post (and in Pat’s case leaving that thought-provoking comment) I appreciate your feedback and elaboration.