1. Travis Perry says:

    Becky, thanks so much for this article. I’ve been noticing a great deal of current Christian speculative fiction tries hard to avoid preachiness, to the degree the story is gutted.

    Our great predecessors did not hestitate to insert commentary and powerful themes, sometimes subtle and sometimes not, into their tales. And I don’t just mean Lewis and Tolkein. Just in science fiction, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.G. Wells, Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark, Jerry Pournelle, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Frank Herbert and many others did not shy away from strong themes (not that I agree with the themes of the bunch I named–mostly not in fact). Nor should we!

    Congratulations on the re-release of your books by the way!

    • Becky Minor says:

      Thank you for your kind affirmation of my thoughts here, Travis. It’s very true that authors throughout history have brought their opinions, viewpoint, and even biases to their fiction. As Christian writers in the 21st century, we have a duty to make sure our side of the thematic spectrum remains part of the artistic conversation. Easier said than done, of course, depending on how you seek to publish a book.

  2. Kessie says:

    As I’ve been prowling the wild world of fanfiction, I’ve found that you can preach all you want as long as you keep it within the language of that world. I’ve written whole sermons about divine justice, grace, and mercy, and my readers loved it. Because it fit with the world and with those characters. I’m currently writing one about the mystery of marriage, but it’s all couched in fantasy terms and wrapped around the story of the redemption of a cursed weapon. CS Lewis observed that nobody “got” the message in Out of the Silent Planet, and that believers can use these genres to sell the Gospel wholesale. It’s somewhat baffling to me that Christians can’t figure out how to do this. Heck, if I can do it, anyone can.

  3. Many times, it’s not really about what people do, but how they do it. If something is expressed at the right time and in the right way, people might still enjoy reading about it even if they completely disagree with it.

    Even if presentation makes all the difference, though, different people are still going to have different tolerance levels for stuff. If something is preachy or toxic, many people are more willing to accept it if they happen to agree with the stance the writer is taking. In spite of that, if they even THINK(based on conclusions they jump to) that the writer believes or behaves a certain way, they will get angry and/or call something preachy, even if the author was very subtle and wrote skillfully.

    So, like, writers should always consider reviews for any info they can use to improve. They should also always be honing their craft and communication so that it’s effective and not preachy. But authors should remember that sometimes it really is just the readers. Or maybe the author did make a flaw in the book that should be fixed, but the readers might be completely overreacting to that flaw.

    But, another thing about reactivity is how real a topic feels to someone. Like, an ardent atheist that avoids religious people in real life might be just fine and entertained by reading about a made up religious group in a story. They might even have respect for some aspect of those religious chars. But if they learn that the story is actually a metaphor for Christianity in some way, they might get very upset, because suddenly it has to do with real life and reminds them of real life issues they take with Christianity. And, suddenly, they feel like someone was trying to manipulate them simply because the story turned out to be something different than they expected.

  4. I dislike propaganda even when it’s for “my side.” However, watching people live out their beliefs will never offend me, even if they spout propaganda. It’s when the author joins in with the manipulation of the scenes and language to tell me that I must believe like one of the characters that I take off.

What do you think?