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Need Content Advice RE: Use of Christian Themes and Scripture in Fiction


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Okay, last one for today. 

 

Probably.

 

My current WIP is part of a series, and is a Christian romance with a worldview element in the development of the female MC. My dilemma is this: male MC holds to Christian values but female MC is not a Christian and has more "worldly" experience, which is the main external conflict for the book. I'm struggling to write this particular aspect of the story without being overtly "Christian," because it is central to who male MC is as a person.

 

As Christian authors, marketing to a Christian audience, has it been anyone's experience that a book can contain too many elements of faith? I honestly don't even know how I would dial it down and still have the same story. 

 

Another option I have would be to write one of the other books in the series first, but I was pretty intentional in how I ordered the books, so I would have to completely rethink the series. This is the only Christian/non-Christian relationship in the series, so none of the other books will be quite so "hit you over the head with Christian themes" as this one.

 

Anyway, that got long and rambly. Sorry. Any thoughts are appreciated. 

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In your title, you mentioned Scripture, though not in your question. I had a suggestion relating to Scripture and you may already know this. If you are going to have your MC quote some verses, I would advise that you use only one Bible version. And on your copyright page, put in the copyright of that Bible. So, since I do not write fiction, I have no other suggestions for you. 😃

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1 minute ago, lynnmosher said:

In your title, you mentioned Scripture, though not in your question. I had a suggestion relating to Scripture and you may already know this. If you are going to have your MC quote some verses, I would advise that you use only one Bible version. And on your copyright page, put in the copyright of that Bible. So, since I do not write fiction, I have no other suggestions for you. 😃

Thank you. I actually only have one scripture that I'm using so far, and MC doesn't even say it to anyone. It's more of a "I'm pondering this verse which relates to what I'm thinking and feeling right now" situation. So not a ton of scripture but a lot of reflection of why we need faith and a definite line in the sand drawn, that being "if female MC does not become a Christian, we cannot be together despite our mutual attraction." As well as a church scene when female MC gets "saved." There are 6 chapters that pretty heavily address the topic, and because of the predicament she finds herself in, will probably need further addressing. 

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30 minutes ago, jayjay said:

As Christian authors, marketing to a Christian audience, has it been anyone's experience that a book can contain too many elements of faith? I honestly don't even know how I would dial it down and still have the same story.

Perspective as a Christian reader - I've read a ton of Christian fiction, and I love it when I come across strong Christian themes! So no, I don't think you can have too many elements of faith. As a reader, I've come across way too many books marketed as Christian fiction that have no elements of faith, and it makes me sad...

 

Perspective as a Christian author - My books all include strong Christian themes/lot of Scriptures/biblical worldview/etc. I've had a couple of readers say they're "preachy," but that's actually a compliment to me. The Christian themes are a big part of why I write. And I've also had readers say they appreciated that my books are actually Christian.

 

So as a Christian reader and a Christian author, I'd say don't ever let anyone tell you that you need to back off the faith content of your books. That's the most important part!

17 minutes ago, jayjay said:

So not a ton of scripture but a lot of reflection of why we need faith and a definite line in the sand drawn, that being "if female MC does not become a Christian, we cannot be together despite our mutual attraction."

This is a great moral!!

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4 hours ago, jayjay said:

As Christian authors, marketing to a Christian audience, has it been anyone's experience that a book can contain too many elements of faith?

Hmm...I think you can put as many elements of faith as you want as long as a.) they coincide with what the Bible says and b.) you don't exclude the elements entirely. What I mean by that is that your book is labeled Christian fiction but really has no Christian elements whatsoever (HK1 covered that already).

 

You know what, just take HK1's word for this. 😆 I haven't been reading as much as I should be; so I'm not much help on the Christian fiction. (Although most Christian fiction that I read is Amish, and a lot of the Amish groups believe in works-based salvation instead of being saved by grace...which is technically not Christian.)

 

4 hours ago, jayjay said:

Another option I have would be to write one of the other books in the series first, but I was pretty intentional in how I ordered the books, so I would have to completely rethink the series. This is the only Christian/non-Christian relationship in the series, so none of the other books will be quite so "hit you over the head with Christian themes" as this one.

 

If you feel that God's leading you to stick to what you have, then go for it! Since this is the only Christian/non-Christian relationship in your series, then you probably should stick with it so that you can show your readers what you believe in. 🙂

 

Did any of that make sense? Sorry, my brain's half present and half not. LOL!

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5 hours ago, carolinamtne said:

I think the important matter is that he practice what he preaches.

I agree. He needs to show his Christian faith more than reciting scripture. I write Christian books, and I do put in quite a bit of scripture, but it's done during a prayer or church service and the pastor is the one doing the quoting. Once in awhile a character other than clergy will quote one, but it's not often. My reviewers have said they loved the subtle, but not over- the-top-in-your-face Christian beliefs. If it is done in a natural manner, with two characters or more interacting, praying, or meditation, you shouldn't have a problem. 

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Heh. Well between all my questions today, I decided to do a little bit of story planning to make sure I knew where I was headed. One of the things that I realized in the course of my story grid is that I'm actually writing a morality sub genre plot for the male MC. So I have a main genre with plot and 2 sub genres with corresponding plots. Nothing like starting with something easy for my first major project. 😬🤦‍♀️

 

Thanks everyone for your responses!

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This is just a suggestion, but maybe if you quit thinking of things like story grids, and a morality sub genre plot and MC (main characters with two sub genres with corresponding plots and just try imaging your story you would have an easier time writing your story.

 

8 hours ago, jayjay said:

My current WIP is part of a series, and is a Christian romance with a worldview element in the development of the female MC. My dilemma is this: male MC holds to Christian values but female MC is not a Christian and has more "worldly" experience, which is the main external conflict for the book. I'm struggling to write this particular aspect of the story without being overtly "Christian," because it is central to who male MC is as a person.

 

Also, if you quit thinking like that, and just got down to writing, it would help, too.

 

I see so many writers get caught up in the writing jargon, and it never turns out well.  But those writers that just get down to the craft of writing, well, it turns out much better.

 

And I really don't mean to be offensive, I really only mean to help.  I wish you all the luck in the world on your story.

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15 hours ago, jayjay said:

As Christian authors, marketing to a Christian audience, has it been anyone's experience that a book can contain too many elements of faith? I honestly don't even know how I would dial it down and still have the same story. 

Old writerly axiom: Show, don't tell. 

 

Of course, there are times when it is better to tell than show, but I'm thinking if you go with the old axiom it's not likely there will be too-manys in your story.

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It would probably just come down to having a beta (or alpha) reader tell you if it feels too much or not. I always struggle with wondering if my writing feels too preachy, but reading it aloud helps me know if something fits or not. Though when having beta readers help, I don't think they've ever said it was too much... can't quote me on that though because it's been a while.

 

And to clarify, I don't think "too many elements of faith" is ever a problem, my concerns would be more like, "am I too repetitive in anything? Am I using it tactfully or does it feel forced?"

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