Don’t get me wrong. I am a strong advocate of Christian fiction. Most of what I write is Christian fiction. Although conservatives in my church often look down their noses in disapproval of anything with the word “fiction” associated with it, writers within my church have been writing fiction for generations. And I believe there is much to be said for fiction and its ability to cut to the meat of the matter on some subjects. “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth,” wrote Albert Camus.
But with the advent of the Internet and the simplification of publishing, more and more people are writing and publishing their own work. Some of them are even writing what they consider “Christian fiction.” And therein, as they say, lies the rub.
Some of the books I have seen advertised on Amazon are Christian in name only. One book was vilified as being raw and filled with profanity. Another that I started to read–and didn’t finish–told of a spy organization that was formed to rescue Christians from persecution overseas. There was no mention of the good work they were doing, or their calling by God. There was no inspiration, only action and weak characterization. So for me, it isn’t true Christian fiction unless it has an inspirational element in it. It needs to remind people why we are Christians and what obligations and promises lie before us. I needs to provide hope through salvation by Christ.
On the other hand, I grew up with a tradition of Christian books that were inspirational, but were lacking in basic ability to tell a story. And as I browse around Amazon, I see that kind of book still exists. It’s not enough to feel you are called by God to be a writer. You have to be willing to spend hours and months and years sweating and typing until you hone your ability to tell a story into a semblance of something professional. Too many people today say to themselves: Hey, look. I wrote a book. It won’t be too long until I am rich and famous. Folks, for most of us, it doesn’t happen that way.
No, Christian writers interested in writing fiction have a double responsibility. Just like every other writer out there, we need to invest ourselves in what is necessary to hone our craft. I am talking 10,000 hours or a million words, whichever comes first. At the same time, we have a responsibility to God to represent Him in a way that is honest yet appealing, inspirational yet exciting. It’s not easy, but if it was, everyone would be doing it. Wait a minute….
I have not trouble with Christian fiction, if it is done right. Trouble is, there are far too many “writers” who haven’t learned the craft, and aren’t committed to our calling.