What Makes Christian Fiction … Christian?

05 Oct

FaithHouse_w11619_680I’ve been pondering this question lately for two reasons.

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all the hubbub in the industry created by the bankruptcy of Christian Family Bookstores, publishers are not looking at unpublished authors.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.

WaitingForLilyBloom_w11738_1K.225x225-75The 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.

Silver White WintersBright Copper Kettles Book CoverEvery 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.

OneChristmasEve_h11283_300Finding Amanda coverI 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.


~ Pegg Thomas

Trooper and Pegg cropped



Posted by on October 5, 2015 in Pegg Thomas, Writing


Tags: , , , , , , ,

8 responses to “What Makes Christian Fiction … Christian?

  1. Robin Patchen

    October 5, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Pegg, I hadn’t thought it it that way before, but I think you’re right–Christian fiction deals with every aspect of life from a Christian worldview. I’d like to see less of a dividing line between “Christian” and “secular” fiction. I believe all readers, whatever their beliefs, are searching for truth, and so I hope that in the secular market, folks with a Christian worldview can point the world toward the Truth.


    • Pegg Thomas

      October 5, 2015 at 6:45 pm

      I’m glad we have both. As a mom, I loved having the “safety” of Christian fiction with a pre-teen who was reading way above his grade level. I didn’t have time to pre-read every book ahead of him. But I read secular fiction too and I love finding the pearls amid the dross. You have to look for them – but they are there!


  2. Candice Sue Patterson

    October 5, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Great post, Pegg! I’m with you–that’s why I read Christian Fiction. We all are guilty of making wrong choices. But I don’t want to read a book where those choices are viewed as acceptable when according to the Bible they’re not. I desire to see the characters’ grow as humans and grow in their relationship with God. I also understand not everyone feels that way and I think it’s great that Christian authors write in the secular market as well. Their stories may not have a faith element, but the characters still have morals and the stories are clean. There’s definitely a need for these genres as well.


    • Pegg Thomas

      October 5, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      Those characters in secular fiction can “show” what wouldn’t be tolerated if it was “told.” 😉


  3. Kara (@KaraHunt2015)

    October 5, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Another great article, Pegg. Something for readers and authors alike to think about.


  4. Jericha Kingston

    October 8, 2015 at 10:34 am

    You always blog on excellent topics, Pegg. Wish I could be at your presentation!


    • Pegg Thomas

      October 8, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Ha! Thanks. Let’s hope those attending feel the same way. 😉



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