The first is, with all the hubbub in the industry created by the bankruptcy of Christian Family Bookstores, publishers are not looking at unpublished authors. They are increasingly risk-adverse, relying on the tried and true multi-published authors. I can’t blame them. It is a business. They are playing it safe because they got burned – big time – and they are accountable for their bottom line. I get that. But I may have to look outside of Christian publishers if I want to be published.
The second is, I’m giving a presentation next month to a group of writers on Conflict, Consequences, and Conclusions. The three Cs. The three very important Cs of a story. (Yes, character is important too, but if your characters don’t journey through the three Cs … you have no story.) While researching and putting my thoughts together on this topic, it occurred to me that the middle C, consequences, is what makes Christian fiction … Christian.
Every story worth reading has conflict. Conflict = story. Without conflict … what’s the point? There’s a reason why the happily-ever-after is on the last page.
Every story worth reading has a conclusion. It’s the happily-ever-after – or not – depending on the genre. The book has to end at some point and hopefully that coincides with wrapping up the storyline.
Every story worth reading has consequences. But this is where Christian and many – not all – secular stories part company. The consequences in Christian fiction need to be consistent with the Christian belief system. Adultery happens in Christian fiction. It happens in real life to Christians, so it happens in Christian fiction. But the consequences should be – I’d argue they must be – different than the possible consequences in secular fiction. Christians understand the concept of sin and shame, repentance and forgiveness. Characters in Christian fiction need to deal with those concepts. That’s pretty hard to find in much of secular fiction. Their characters may suffer similar consequences, but their thought processes regarding them will be from a different world-view.
I love reading Christian fiction and I read a lot of it, including the titles shown here in this post. (Click on them to learn more.) Some day I’d like to be published by a Christian publishing house, God willing. But even if I don’t, and even if I have to “tone down” the faith element of my stories to pass muster at a secular publishing house, I hope my characters will always deal with their consequences as a Christian would. Albeit a bit under the radar.