What It Means to Write Christian Fiction

My most recent book is a redemptive story where the heroine initially thinks God has forgotten about her as a result of the mistakes she's made in life, and then finds healing as she realizes her conception of God's mercy has been wrong so many years. Because of this, the scene where the heroine reconciles her relationship with God is very openly Christian in its framework... I list Bible verses, and she goes through steps of spiritual healing. But much of the rest of the book is more thematic in its Christian content.

So as I'm working on plotting my latest project, I'm contemplating where the heroine is on her spiritual journey and am considering making her more "Christian" from the outset, because I think it suits her character well.

I have read several books by writers like Robin Jones Gunn that are clearly geared toward equipping a Christian audience, and when written well (as in the case of any of Robin's books), these stories have really impacted me to deepen my own faith.

But I have also read books where the Christian thread feels so artificial that I wish the author would've just left it out. You've probably heard this joke before, but is it really "Christian fiction" just because someone gets saved in the ending?

Because this is such a hot button topic, I'd love to hear what you think. What makes Christian fiction "Christian" to begin with? Is it Christian themes? Verses quoted? Christian characters? As a reader, are you willing to read "secular" romances so long as they are clean? And second, if you're a writer, what category of Christian fiction do you find yourself drawn more towards?

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  1. Hi, Ashley. I think Christian fiction is anything that contains a Christian world view; characters can be any place in their walk. My historical wip characters already believe in God, but some of them grow closer to him, and some have personal conflicts and have to forgive others or be forgiven.

    I like some secular romance, especially Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series (Victorian Egypt).

  2. Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth! I agree. I tend to think of Christian fiction in a broader way, as fiction being written from, as you said, a Christian worldview. I've never heard of Elizabeth Peters... I' should check that out!

  3. I love Brock & Bodie Thoene's books because their character's lives and struggles are real and gripping. With some Christian fiction, particularly romance, I spend the whole book wishing the characters would simply see what's going on around them. This year I signed on with an agent who said she'd get my work published if I'd write romance. I'm puzzled by all the restrictions that weaken the story, such as having the male and female meet in the first chapter. Since I'm new to the genre, they have to appear together on the first page! All the rules in Christian publishing result in many too-predictable stories. Christian fiction should be real, with a window to the soul and the work of the Spirit woven throughout the story.

  4. Interesting perspective, Jane! I also find books frustrating when the Christian thread feels artificial. I think it's so important that we as Christian writers don't weaken the powerful message of the Gospel by making it feel inorganic, or just tacking it on to the end. Thanks for stopping by!