1. Sherwood Smith says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. chrisd says:

    You had a conversation about this without mentioning the amazing writing of Carole McDonnell?


  3. sheesania says:

    Yes!! I find human sexuality and gender fascinating, and it is so frustrating that I can’t find Christian fiction that really dives into and engages with the questions surrounding these subjects. There are LGBTQ people in my own work, but as I write these characters I have no models to follow and no real ideal to live up to. If anybody has suggestions for specific works of Christian fiction that do engage with these questions, it would be wonderful if you told me!

    The only thing I have to add is that please, if you’re going to add other beliefs, sexual orientations, &c, don’t use stereotypes. Please have more than just the “militaristic” atheist or “tattered, drug-smoking” lesbian. If anything, stereotyped “diverse” characters actually hurt understanding of diversity because they continue to propagate false or, at best, incomplete ideas. Do your research! Listen to others’ stories! We’re writers, complex and nuanced human beings should be our favorite kind both inside and outside of literature.

    • notleia says:

      I’d say you’re better off getting to know real-life LGBT’s, unless you mean you want examples of how to portray them in a way that would actually be touched without a ten-foot pole by a Christian publisher. Which I fear might be a bridge too far.

      Tangential thought: We’ve had writing prompts before, why don’t we have writing prompts about people? Like doing our best to portray people we may or may not know (or amalgamations of people we may or may not know) as practice to write realistic characters?
      Like I found out recently that the church lady who lived in a little ranch house across the street from my grandma’s little ranch house, who has been passed for a few years, had a hobby of growing all kinds of irises. She and her sister would mail-order special new cultivars, and they’re probably still chugging along, neglected, in the back yard. Mom wants to ask the early-twenty-something kid who lives there now if she can dig up a few, but us kids are all like “He won’t even notice if you just walk over and poach half the beds.” Plus, it’s okay because he’s a friend of my younger sister’s boyfriend.

      • sheesania says:

        Naturally – if I want to get to understand real-life people, then the best way to do that is to, well, get to understand real-life people, not just book people. That being said, though, I think literature can let you engage with ideas in a different way than real-life people do. It’s complementary to actual relationships – it can’t replace them, but it can help make them better, I guess is what I’m saying.

      • Zac Totah says:

        I’m not quite sure what your first point, is Notleia. What I’m suggesting is authors be more open to looking outside the Christian box. As for the purpose of, for example, including an LGBTQ character, that’s up to the author, and should be done without stereotyping or slandering, but in a realistic, respectful way. The problem I see is that Christian authors either don’t want, or don’t think they have the freedom, to go down that path in their stories in the first place.

        Love the writing prompt idea! 😀

        EDIT: Didn’t realize you were replying to Sheesania’s comment. :-/

    • Zac Totah says:

      Great point about avoiding stereotypes. That’s another trap Christian authors often fall into, in sooo many ways. If we’re going to include these diverse characters, we need to do them justice and present them in as real a was as possible.

  4. Karisa Noble says:

    Wow, good thought. I would love to see a good novel about the struggle of an LGBT youth written from a perspective that doesn’t encourage it as a secular viewpoint would, but doesn’t hide from the much needed conversation from a biblical worldview. That would be rather helpful and potentially culture changing in a good way. Good food for thought Zachary. 🙂

  5. Tamra Wilson says:

    This is something I’ve felt strongly about for years. I wondered, when I read Christian fiction, where were the black, Asian, etc. people? They all seemed to be about WASPs living in America. So I made it my personal mission to have as many diverse characters as is conceivable, Black, Asian, Native American, you name it, I more than likely have at least one character who fits the bill.

    • Zac Totah says:

      That’s great, Tamra. Good for you! In my not-so-work-in-progress fantasy series, I have a race with darker skin. Not exactly African, since this is a fantasy world, but definitely not “white.”

      • Tamra Wilson says:

        I recall reading precisely one Christian story with Asians as main characters… and precisely none with Black main characters. It wasn’t fair, and even as a fifth grade kid I knew it. I don’t know if my books (younger spectrum middle grade fantasy) are the venue for LGBT conversations, but I will have racial diversity, as well as denominational and family type diversity. Family diversity is almost as important as racial diversity IMHO.

        • Tamra Wilson says:

          My “African” characters are actually centaurs so we have something in common there. 😉

        • Zac Totah says:

          The Kinsman Chronicles series I mentioned in the post features several races, and two of the top handful of POV characters are black.

          Yes, good point about family diversity. So many options, yet authors don’t use variety as much as they could.

  6. Lisa says:

    Very good point! Thank you, it’s definitely something missing in Christian fiction and something that is overlooked in discussions about Christian fiction.

  7. Katherine says:

    I’ve had this same thought. In the book I’m currently brainstorming for, I’ve banned myself from using Western cultures as a basis for the primary groups, which means a lot of research.

    • Zac Totah says:

      Good idea, Katherine. And in all honesty, if you’re writing fantasy, avoiding Western cultures is a great way to weed out the many cliches that plague the genre.

  8. HG Ferguson says:

    You’re right, Zachary. Count me in. My novel Jezebelle just released features the murderous ghost of an antebellum southern belle. Her enemy? The HERO? A young southern woman of color. So I, not being of that particular culture and hue of epidermis, engaged in something as diverse as that gets, especially in today’s climate. Diversity is necessary in today’s world if we are the reach the world. Unless we want to stay in our little everyone looks and thinks just like me tide pool. Just sayin’.

    • Zac Totah says:

      Thanks, HG. That’s definitely an original concept. Sounds like a fascinating story. The thing writers have to be careful of when crossing cultural, racial, or any other boundaries, is to be sure they’re dealing respectfully and honestly with the subject, and not falling into stereotypes.

  9. Tony Breeden says:

    My first book features a diverse cast and my protagonist is a person of color. While I don’t regret the choice to cast my book this way, especially given that the book’s theme deals with racism, Johnny Came Home was quite nearly a work of unnatural diversity. Let me explain. The book is set in West Virginia. There was a lot more diversity (percentage-wise) presented in my book than what is actually reflected in my state’s demographics. It worked in Johnny because of the theme, but my point is that the diversity should not be forced into a story for the sake of diversity itself

  10. When it comes to race, I admit to having a hard time noticing it in books. Christian fiction may be behind in that department, but I haven’t read a ton recently, so it’s kind of hard for me to call. I do remember the Seven Sleepers series had a black character in the seven characters. (There was a moral about racism, which was poorly done since it stereotyped the racist character.)
    A while back, I did a blog post about the lack of diversity in stories, where I mostly mentioned moral diversity, which is pretty important to stories but often lacking, especially in Christian fiction. Even in secular fiction, most people seem to have the same morals as the author. It’s rare that anyone will ever believe differently about something, such as drinking, dating, or swearing. (I don’t think I’ve ever once seen a YA book where the guy and girl came from different cultures, say one who prefers dating while another is into courting.) I’ve only seen a few good examples of moral diversity, mostly in Sanderson’s stories and a few shows like Firefly where the good characters have morals that don’t change due to them being converted.
    I myself am a little afraid to include homosexuality or fortification. The reason I’d rather not include these is that they’re currently places where some readers might be struggling with, so I don’t want to normalize them in the readers’ eyes. However, I do have one story where I plan to have a Muslim who doesn’t get converted. Originally, I’d been trying to figure out how to convert the guy, then I realized, “I hate it when the Christian turns their back on Christ in a secular book.” I knew I didn’t want to do that to a Muslim reader, so I decided the guy’s keeping his faith.

  11. D. T. Powell says:

    I know this article is 5 years old, but it encouraged me to see a discussion about this since my WIP works with some things mentioned here.

    Currently writing an LGBTQ-led adult contemporary novel that shamlessly intersects with fundamental Christian faith.

    Both parties are honestly portrayed with no “preaching” involved. The narrative makes its point on its own.

    Hoping to have it published in the next year or two.

What do you think?