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Done To Death: Getting It Right

Last time, I wrote about the reason why I don’t think it’s a good idea to write “milk” in Christian fiction. And I also promised to talk about some books that I think “got it right,” so to speak. So here we go.
| May 9, 2012 | No comments |

So my last few posts have been about who the intended audience should be for Christian fiction. Last time, I wrote about the reason why I don’t think it’s a good idea to write “milk” in Christian fiction. And I also promised to talk about some books that I think “got it right,” so to speak. So here we go.

First of all, we have Sharon Hinck‘s The Sword of Lyric books. This is apropos since she’s in the midst of re-releasing them in expanded edition form. In these books, Hinck deals with some weighty themes such as being called (in the second book) or the Christian’s response to evil (in the third). Actually, it’s not just Hinck’s fantasy books that fit the bill. I also found this “meat for believers” in her book Renovating Becky Miller. In that book, Hinck once again addresses some weighty “mature” themes in one subplot, namely the question, “Does God always think that bigger is better?” It’s these sort of themes that I wish I could see more often in Christian fiction rather than just the simpler “milk” themes. Or maybe I’ve just been reading the wrong books.

But Sharon Hinck isn’t the only example of an author who “got it right,” as far as I’m concerned. For that, we have to look at another epic fantasy, namely Karen Hancock’s Legends of the Guardian-King series.

If you want to find out more about this series, you can check out the massive re-reading review I did two years ago. And while I had some minor quibbles and gripes with the series, I still think this is an excellent series for mature Christians. Now granted, it does have a redemption aspect to the story, a “beginner’s” tale, so to speak, but it’s confined only to the first book. As Abramm Kalladorne continues his journey, Hancock doesn’t simply rehash the simpler spiritual themes that a new believer would encounter. Instead, she delves deeper. For example, in the third book, Abramm wrestles with past sins and whether or not he’s really forgiven. And again, in the fourth book, we see the question of how a believer faces off against the forces of evil.

In both cases, I think Hinck and Hancock hit the concept well. Rather than try to “cross over” to non-/new believers, they focused on the people that would read the books: Christians, ones who have been in the faith long enough that they’re looking for Christian fiction.

Now, this is just my grubby little opinion. I know that there are lots of folks who don’t agree with me. And that’s okay. Maybe I’ve been engaging in a bit of hyperbole over the past few weeks, deliberately overstating my case to get my fellow authors thinking. Who are we writing for? And what do they need to hear?

So that’s it on this one, I think. Honestly, I have no idea what to discuss next. Any suggestions? I occasionally take requests. 😉

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Galadriel
Guest

I’ve only read the Light of Eidon, and if I remember correctly, wasn’t that impressed by it. I want to read the Restorer series, but I have yet to find it at the local library.

Morgan Busse
Member

Ok, maybe it’s because I’m weird, but your title made me laugh. Done to Death: Getting it Right. It made me wonder if there is a wrong way to be done to death ;P
 
Now, more serious 🙂

Literaturelady
Guest

Would C. S. Lewis fall into your category of authors that “got it right”?  His Narnia stories focused on aspects of Christian faith, portrayed by how the children react to Aslan.
As for what to discuss next, I would love to see a poll/discussion on whether writing romance in a story (speculative or otherwise) is a male or female trend!  My theory is that writing a romantic sub-plot is largely a female trend, but I could be wrong, and it would be great to hear what others writers think or have experienced.
You’ve made some great points in this Done to Death discussion.  I’ve enjoyed reading these articles, and they will be very helpful if I ever start writing Christian fiction!
Blessings,
Literaturelady

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

John, I agree that stories written for Christians need meat. I also think you’ve highlighted two great authors. I’m just not so certain we need to limit ourselves like this, however. I mean, I do think Christians face unique issues and that it is right for us to delve into those through fiction. Kathryn Cushman, writing women’s fiction, is great at doing this.

However, I just don’t see C. S. Lewis or J. R. R. Tolkien setting out to write stories aimed at Christians. They took a different tack — they wrote great stories infused with their Christian worldview, and lo and behold, Christians love them but many non-Christians do too.

Personally I think that kind of writing has been missing for far too long, and I’d like to see us get back to it. Sadly, though, the book business discourages this by focusing on sales. That’s what paying attention to audience is really about, I think — who is going to buy your book.

The bottom line is, we don’t really know. Jerry Jenkins, for example, has said he had no idea that millions upon millions of people would be reading the Left Behind books. J. K. Rowling has said essentially the same thing about Harry Potter.

I know it sounds trite, but I think we should write the stories God wants us to write, the ones He burdens us with, the ones He brings to our minds. Yes, I hope that means there will be some meaty fare for Christians, but I think that can come from stories written with overt Christian themes or with a Christian worldview about something entirely secular. These last should be stories, I would think, that non-Christians can also enjoy.

Becky

Jeanie
Guest

I think that can come from stories written with overt Christian themes or with a Christian worldview about something entirely secular. 

Sheryl
Guest

I hope that means there will be some meaty fare for Christians, but I think that can come from stories written with overt Christian themes or with a Christian worldview about something entirely secular.

Kessie Carroll
Member

Here’s a question I’ve been pondering. Is the superhero genre unique to Christian fiction? I have yet to run across any superhero fiction in the secular arena, aside from comic books. Maybe they just haven’t become bestsellers and therefore and running beneath my radar?

kim
Guest

THis is how I like writing my books, with meat, not milk.  What cracks me up is people who aren’t saved doesn’t see it.  They just see a cool God in a cool story.  Weird, huh?

Laura
Guest

I do think Christians face unique issues and that it is right for us to delve into those through fiction. Kathryn Cushman, writing women’s fiction, is great at doing this.

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Yea! I’m so glad to know others are as big a fan of Kathryn Cushman’s books as I am. 😀

Becky