Christian Speculative Fiction discussion

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Grit in Christian fiction

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message 1: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
I thought I would through this thought out there. What makes a book "gritty" and is it fine in Christian fiction?

The reason for this question is that I find most of the Christian fiction I read fun, but definitely not gritty. A book doesn't have to be gritty, but the one I am currently trying to write needs it. Is grittiness caused by moral vagueness? violence? controversial issues? What makes it more intense than the standard Amish historical Christian romance stuff that's out there?


message 2: by Stan (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
Lara wrote: "What makes it more intense than the standard Amish historical Christian romance stuff that's out there?"

Since I've never read any books in that particular niche, I can't answer that question. As for grittiness, that's a different story (no pun intended).

I think our own Steve Pillinger did a good job with gritty in the Mindrulers books. He includes a lot of the realities of non-Christian morality, but I think he struck a good balance in not glorifying it.

In the Cyberpunk stuff I'm working on, very few characters in the beginning will be Christians. So, when they see things or end up in certain situations, the things they think and the things they do won't be squeaky clean. Their motives will not be Christian motives. Most will be self-centered, or at least self-interested. When the non-Christian characters meet the Christian characters there will be a marked difference.

I see this as a contrast to much of Christian fiction where most of the characters in the book, major or minor, are really pretty good people. About the only thing that distinguishes the Christian characters from the non-Christian characters it the Christian characters will pray, witness, or give "Christian advice".

Where is the immoral? Which character cheats on his or her taxes? Which commits minor fraud? Which character has hidden agendas? Which characters are sexually immoral?

What I see in much of Christian fiction is that most of it considers people to be good. In the Bible belt, that was probably true in the recent past. It is less and less true every day.

So, gritty, to me, shows a little more accurate picture of sin and sin nature. It doesn't have to be graphic. You don't have to use profanity. But, I really think a true picture of lostness is the key to gritty.

I look forward to hearing other responses to your question - especially from those who have read the Amish Christian Romance niche you mention.


message 3: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Westlund | 25 comments I think serious subjects do the trick. Abuse. Sex. Violence. For me, seeing abuse and violence on screen (the screen of my mind) is not a problem as long as evil is represented as evil. Sex, on the other hand, is different, because . . . I guess rather than seeing something evil that I want to remedy, I see something good that I desire in a context that I shouldn't. I don't know. What gets me is swearing. I don't like to read books filled with f-bombs. But, with my upcoming novel, I have little cuss words like a, d, h, and b. My dream would be for a publisher to take interest, but I feel like Christian publishers are prude when it comes to language. And I say that as someone who believes in holiness. It's just that, making your bad guy say 'crap' and 'dang' and 'heck' is silly. And the narrator describing what was said, censoring the dialogue, gets old. You can't tell me that 95%+ of the people reading these books don't watch PG-13 movies. Maybe they need a sticker that's less hard core than the 'Contains Explicit Content' one. 'Be Warned, this Book Contains Soft Cussing.'


message 4: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Westlund | 25 comments I had a work friend who used the f-word as his 'staller,' which sucks because I catch myself doing it in my head sometimes.


message 5: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Westlund | 25 comments I also had a Christian school teacher who when someone said 'I screwed up,' she replied, 'Not in my classroom.'


message 6: by Stan (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
Daniel wrote: "And the narrator describing what was said, censoring the dialogue, gets old."

I've been reading some books written in the late 1800's and early 1900's - novels. They had some very creative ways to express cussing without using the words. "Angry and cursing he replied...". Stuff like that. One really humorous one described a person who "used many choice often confined to sailors and few they don't even use." There are ways to express it without writing it, in many situations. In fact, we read of Peter cursing once in Scripture, but we don't know what he actually said.

That said, I do also believe that sometimes the actual word is the best word to use, though I would exclude the f-bomb from that. And, personally, I don't cuss and I can't recall ever having written a cuss word in anything I've written. Also, I honestly think almost all of the profanity in novels is unnecessary.


message 7: by Stan (last edited Jan 29, 2020 08:41AM) (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
Daria wrote: ""They had some very creative ways to express cussing without using the words."

I confess this is what I look for in fiction. Even though I try to overlook the express use of profanity and work amo..."


I mentioned in a thread some time ago that an accurate film of the Bible would be rated R, at least. I also don't understand Christian fiction with sex scenes. If one wants to say a couple shacks up - say it that way - don't give details! Scripture did not find it necessary to give us details in that department. Even Song of Solomon describes it in code!


message 8: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
This conversation is giving me some great thoughts about my project. I sometimes get nervous writing what I actually see happening in the world around me. In my book the main characters are Christians, but Christians with a past. In the book there will also be good Christians who were always Christians, judgemental hurtful Christians, hypocrites, people who don't really care about religon and yet somewhat good, and those who have no morals at all. None of these are the villan. My most controversial character is a homosexual nonmoral character who acts with more kindness to my main characters during the crisis of the book than anyone else. Even though the plot is historical fantasy, the theme explores faithfulness and unfaithfulness in all it's facets. I find myself wanting to sanitize the thoughts and struggles of my Christian characters though, but if this books is honest, it must show how being a Christian is tough when life gets hard. Another words, it is easy to say "don't steal" until your child is starving and you have no money to buy food. Christian fiction tends to have God provide miraculously. I find in real life, we end up having to find a solution such as selling something important and valuable to us just to stay faithful. Sometimes God acts to help us, sometimes he allows us to go through trial and pain.


message 9: by Stan (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
Lara wrote: "I find myself wanting to sanitize the thoughts and struggles of my Christian characters though, but if this books is honest, it must show how being a Christian is tough when life gets hard."

Sounds like you're working towards being realistic. If you haven't yet, you might want to show a little of Christians working through what it mean to take every thought captive. Keep moving forward with it!


message 10: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
Thanks!


message 11: by J.L. (new)

J.L. Pattison | 65 comments Looks like I’m late to the party . . . but here’s my two cents anyway.

Too often when the topic of “grittiness” comes up, we immediately think of profanity. And when you see a Christian author say their work is gritty, that’s usually code for: “I sprinkled profanity throughout the book.”

Organic grittiness comes from the subject matter, whereas superficial, cheap grittiness comes from throwing profanity or sex into the story in an oftentimes lazy attempt to be controversial and edgy.

When I wrote my book, The Island, I did not set out to be “gritty.” But dealing with governmental conspiracies (spawned from the real life disappearance of MH370), it just happened that way because that’s what comes naturally when dealing with a government hijacking a plane and kidnapping its occupants. The story became “gritty” without trying to be, and without the “need” to add sex and profanity. Even readers identified it as gritty as evidenced by this excerpt from one of its Amazon reviews:

“It's rare to find a book that has a gritty and compelling storyline without using sex, language, and violence, but Pattison pulls it off.”

The grittiness of a story should stand or fall on the plot alone. Too often sex and profanity are added as merely cheap window dressing for a weak, unengaging plot.

Lara: You said, “I find myself wanting to sanitize the thoughts and struggles of my Christian characters though, but if this books is honest, it must show how being a Christian is tough when life gets hard.”

I think this is so valuable in a world of sugary Christian fiction. The Christian life is hard, and it is a struggle. Depicting it genuinely is a refreshing change, and it can still be done tactfully. Therein lies your challenge.

Dari: Thanks for the heads-up about the podcast. I consume lots of podcasts and did not know this one existed. I will definitely be checking it out.

Stan: As I was reading this string, the thought came to mind of how novels of old did not feel the “need” to use profanity and they managed just fine, so today’s excuses seem to be just that . . . excuses. Then I saw you beat me to the punch.

Also, you echoed my exact sentiments when you said: “I honestly think almost all of the profanity in novels is unnecessary.” A hearty amen, sir.


message 12: by Stan (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
J.L. wrote: "Looks like I’m late to the party . . . but here’s my two cents anyway.

Too often when the topic of “grittiness” comes up, we immediately think of profanity. And when you see a Christian author sa..."


Thank you sir. And thanks for joining the party and adding your two cents - it is (almost) never too late!


message 13: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
J.L. wrote: "Looks like I’m late to the party . . . but here’s my two cents anyway.

Too often when the topic of “grittiness” comes up, we immediately think of profanity. And when you see a Christian author sa..."


Thanks! I totally agree about getting past that surface fake grittiness to the real.


message 14: by Karley (new)

Karley Conklin | 12 comments Lara wrote: "This conversation is giving me some great thoughts about my project. I sometimes get nervous writing what I actually see happening in the world around me. In my book the main characters are Christi..."

Just want to say that your book sounds like something I'd love to read. I think you're completely right to want to make your book realistic and to show that life is tough.

In the world of Christian fiction, we tend to worry that everything has to be very light and fluffy, but that's not the case. Life is gritty and messy (and when we look at the Bible, we find that Scripture can get pretty gritty too). Part of writing a book that portrays authentic Christianity is letting the rough edges show through. Like you said, sometimes God provides miracles, but sometimes He asks us to walk through the trials. It's important to tell our audience that they can be faithful despite hardships, despite the sometimes confusing reality of cold and hypocritical brothers and sisters in Christ in contrast to loving, kind atheists, and despite the moments where we wonder if God is even listening.

Showing the grittiness of life is so much more valuable than pretending that everything is perfect. I definitely think you are creating an important story by showing characters who do have a past, characters who aren't living as they should, and characters who are portrayed in a positive light despite having a different worldview than the main characters. All of what you mentioned is true to life and important to tell. :)


message 15: by C.S. (new)

C.S. Wachter | 351 comments When I wrote The Seven Words series, especially The Sorcerer's Bane, I didn't set out to write a 'dark' story, but, to be honest, if I was dealing with the evil of a demonic sorcerer seeking to prevent the fulfilling of prophecy, it was going to get gritty in places. Rayne/Wren, my main character, suffers abuse as he is trained from childhood to become an assassin. But, as others have pointed out above, I do not glorify the evil. Throughout the series, the One (God) acts to instill courage and faith in his Light Bringer (Rayne).

Though some have called the book graphic, I do not see it that way. I've read 'graphic' and have a difficult time with it. (I do not usually like horror.) But I didn't want to gloss over the 'reality' of Rayne's circumstances within the fantasy. The Sorcerer's Bane is a deep, moving journey of a child of prophecy through the darkness of slavery and abuse. It is not 'fluff'.

Having said that, however, I do not believe in a constant diet of 'darkness'. As was stated in a review by Lorehaven Magazine:

How can The Sorcerer's Bane feel so dark and yet remain so bright? The secret's in the scale. Those petty cruelties that daily crush Rayne's spirit are matched in specificity by small kindnesses unlooked-for. Readers behold brief visions of beauty in everyday life, and simple joys like morning light,fresh snowfall, or honey on toast. Lorehaven

So ... gritty? Yes. But limited profanity and no sex. And yet, I've had many Christians say, "I wouldn't read that."

To me The Seven Words is a story of light overcoming darkness and shining so brightly at the end that I am uplifted and filled with joy.


message 16: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
Karley wrote: "Just want to say that your book sounds like something I'd love to read. I think you're completely right to want to make your book realistic and to show that life is tough.
..."


Thanks! With how crazy life has been right now, it's great to hear I'm on the right track.


message 17: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
C.S. wrote: "When I wrote The Seven Words series, especially The Sorcerer's Bane, I didn't set out to write a 'dark' story, but, to be honest, if I was dealing with the evil of a demonic sorcerer seeking to pre..."

I think your book does have some of the grittiness I am talking about in the difficulty of your main character's journey. I think that one can definitely be honest about how dark the world can get without glorying in it. I think that is the balance I will have to wrestle with.


message 18: by Reggi (new)

Reggi Broach | 38 comments C.S. wrote: "When I wrote The Seven Words series, especially The Sorcerer's Bane, I didn't set out to write a 'dark' story, but, to be honest, if I was dealing with the evil of a demonic sorcerer seeking to pre..."

I loved reading "The Sorcerer's Bane," and I look forward to the next one. It was darker than what I am accustomed to reading and it pushed me to the edge of my comfort zone, but not over the edge.

Everyone has a "comfort zone" of their own. Some people won't touch sex scenes but violence is okay. Others may live around those who use foul language and don't think twice about it. Some people recognize the situations as representative of what we deal with in real life and accept it while others are looking to be completely separate from the world. I know that people practice immoral values where sex is concerned, but because of my own weaknesses, I stay away from reading books with "grittier" uses of sex. It keeps me safe, not that the writer did anything wrong. I believe there is a balance between fluffy fairy tales and being dragged through the gutter. We can't please everyone with our writing. The Bible is the best selling book of all time and some people hate it. Some grit is necessary.


message 19: by C.S. (new)

C.S. Wachter | 351 comments Reggi wrote: "C.S. wrote: "When I wrote The Seven Words series, especially The Sorcerer's Bane, I didn't set out to write a 'dark' story, but, to be honest, if I was dealing with the evil of a demonic sorcerer s..."

Well stated! You're right. Sometimes it is hard to find the balance. I strove to find that balance when writing The Seven Words series. I am glad you enjoyed The Sorcerer's Bane and want to continue reading the series. Thank you.


message 20: by Karley (new)

Karley Conklin | 12 comments C.S. wrote: "When I wrote The Seven Words series, especially The Sorcerer's Bane, I didn't set out to write a 'dark' story, but, to be honest, if I was dealing with the evil of a demonic sorcerer seeking to pre..."

:) Best of luck in your endeavors!


message 21: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Westlund | 25 comments I think this is a big issue, and probably the lack of grit in Christian fiction is the number one thing keeping Christian fiction irrelevant. Sorry, I’m a little fired up about this issue because I’ve received a number of poor reviews because I deal with abuse, rape, and my evil characters use baby cuss words. I’ve said earlier in this thread that I understand the tension, and believe in holiness. But come on, folks. Are we divorced from reality that a__, d___, and h___ are going to prevent us from reading a relevant Christian book? Do we really think bad people in the world say aw shucks and golly gosh darn when they get upset? Have you never looked at the trending movies on Netflix and seen the filth that’s out there in the world? How on earth can we expect to reach this culture with the Gaithers? They see us as irrelevant, Amish prudes they don’t understand, and it’s hard to blame them. But I suppose we’ll just keep writing irrelevant stories to ourselves because we wouldn’t want to see the ugly world out there as it is, even portrayed as ugly, because it makes us feel yucky. And I say this as someone who has done some review exchanges and am fed up with crap Frank Peretti knockoffs, and stories where every character is Christian, or if they aren’t, they get converted by a glib one-minute speech.


message 22: by C.S. (new)

C.S. Wachter | 351 comments Daniel wrote: "I think this is a big issue, and probably the lack of grit in Christian fiction is the number one thing keeping Christian fiction irrelevant. Sorry, I’m a little fired up about this issue because I..."

Just a disclaimer here. These are my off the cuff comments ... my opinions. Nothing more. I hope I don't offend anyone, just felt I needed to share this here. Thanks for not taking offense.

Boy do I hear you. Though compared with so much that's graphic out there, I think my The Sorcerer's Bane is mild and yet I've had people condemn me for including child abuse. My antagonist is a demon. Because he is a demon, he does terrible things. The humans who work with him likewise do terrible things.

Most of my reviews are four and five stars but I did get a one-star on Amazon. It said: This story has a lot of potential, but I found the repeated references to sadism extremely disturbing and sickening. I stopped reading partway through Chapter 6.

By stopping at that point, the reader is left with the ugly darkness and never experiences the light and joy that also permeate the series.

One of the best series I've read lately is Brothers' Creed by Joshua C. Chadd. And yes, there is foul language. But it fits the characters and the story. He didn't just add that language for the shock value, but because it was raw and honest. This is zombie apocalypse material ... not Amish romance. Personally, give me gritty before vanilla. And I am a strong, conservative Christian. We need to get past vanilla and judge books by how well they are written, not by the fact they may contain some violence or language.

I didn't include foul language in my The Seven Words series (except for the term 'bastard' to describe someone born out of wedlock) because I never felt the need for it in this story, but if in the future I feel it fits the story and character, I wouldn't avoid it.


message 23: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Westlund | 25 comments C.S. wrote: "Daniel wrote: "I think this is a big issue, and probably the lack of grit in Christian fiction is the number one thing keeping Christian fiction irrelevant. Sorry, I’m a little fired up about this ..."

Yes! A fellow traveler. I appreciate the cathartic affirmation, sister. Tough for me when I did a book exchange with someone, rated their book higher than I should have for their feelings, and then they came in and gave me a harsh review for the reasons above. I've found Pubby is useful so that I have less conflict about giving honest reviews, although the problem there is most people don't read my book cover to cover.

Wow. Your demon is evil. I prefer my demons to pick flowers and listen to Stephen Curtis Chapman.


message 24: by Carla (new)

Carla Thorne | 10 comments Daniel wrote: "I think this is a big issue, and probably the lack of grit in Christian fiction is the number one thing keeping Christian fiction irrelevant. Sorry, I’m a little fired up about this issue because I..."

I have a comment here, but as an editor, let me ask - what category do you have your books in on your retail sites? Are you calling them Christian Fiction?


message 25: by C.S. (new)

C.S. Wachter | 351 comments Daniel wrote: "C.S. wrote: "Daniel wrote: "I think this is a big issue, and probably the lack of grit in Christian fiction is the number one thing keeping Christian fiction irrelevant. Sorry, I’m a little fired u..."

You made me laugh!!!!!!!!


message 26: by C.S. (last edited Apr 27, 2020 12:43PM) (new)

C.S. Wachter | 351 comments Carla wrote: "Daniel wrote: "I think this is a big issue, and probably the lack of grit in Christian fiction is the number one thing keeping Christian fiction irrelevant. Sorry, I’m a little fired up about this ..."

I do market my books as Christian fantasy. Mainly because I hate the reviews that say things like: you misled me. I didn't know I would find Christian themes in this book! I'd rather just be upfront about it. Perhaps I'm shooting myself in the foot doing so, but that's where I've landed.


message 27: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Westlund | 25 comments C.S. wrote: "Carla wrote: "Daniel wrote: "I think this is a big issue, and probably the lack of grit in Christian fiction is the number one thing keeping Christian fiction irrelevant. Sorry, I’m a little fired ..."

Mostly. Christian Futuristic and Christian Science Fiction are my most successful categories. I have some non-Christian categories but those are tough hills to climb.


message 28: by Carla (new)

Carla Thorne | 10 comments C.S. wrote: "Carla wrote: "Daniel wrote: "I think this is a big issue, and probably the lack of grit in Christian fiction is the number one thing keeping Christian fiction irrelevant. Sorry, I’m a little fired ..."

Thanks. Just my opinion and open to discuss...
If it makes you feel any better, I do agree because I understand your reasoning. Well-developed characters written with depth and realism do not always 'look' like the characters certain conservative audiences expect. A CIA agent hero on the run with a wanted heroine is not going to say darn and aww shoot in the heat of a gunfight. They're just not. I get it. And fantasy writers who write a depiction of Biblical hell with demon characters are not writing it in fluff. Because it isn't. It's ugly and barbaric, and it's human suffering at its most terrifying.
But, as an editor, I have this "warning" conversation with my clients all the time, and it's based on market expectation. Readers buy covers, tropes, and from keyword/category searches. We all know this. No matter how well you write or what you do, as soon as you put Christian fiction on it, there is a market expectation. Sadly, that expectation is narrow and slow to change. I wrote inspy romance for years as Carla Rossi and all of my bestsellers were turned down by the traditional publishers because I didn't write one-dimensional characters who did nothing but pray, attend church, and wouldn't consider anything other than a kiss on the cheek. Excuse me? I had a fit at a Christian writers conference once and demanded to see the woman who didn't desire her husband before she married him. (They eventually let me back in.) So, sue me, I write broken men and women who make mistakes and have pasts and didn't handle every ridiculous situation in their crappy lives by listening only to worship music. I gave up and have had a good career on my own because I write a good romance. BUT... I did follow market expectation and did not use curse words or put my characters in too many places deemed 'inappropriate' by the masses. That was a tactical business decision, and I encourage my clients to do what the market demands. When I re-branded as Carla Thorne for my Warrior Saints YA Fantasy series, I purposely did not choose Christian Fic as my category for all these reasons we are complaining about. I'm using a good vs. evil paradigm with a Creator and a Destroyer and an ultimate battle. I didn't need cursing, and I wouldn't write sex in YA, but I do tackle some real YA problems with honesty and sensitivity - suicide, mental illness, sexual aggression - things like that across the series. (Not all in one book.) It just launched, but it's been very good. I can tell there are some that think it's not hardcore enough, but others who appreciate it's just a "YA supernatural fantasy mystery" they can hand any kid/teen and it not be too far either way. I covered a lot of questions teens ask about a variety of belief systems. I did this with broad strokes but made sure there were clear good and bad choices being made all along the way. It was easier for me to straddle these genres and try to find my new audience rather than defeat myself before I started with the total Christian Fic target audience, or stretch myself into uncomfortable territory and deny my personal worldview. All this means is that I found it possible to write a good fantasy series without it be overtly religious and it's working for me. Writing to the strict standard works for others and there's nothing wrong with either. I've been at this since 2006 and the stories of this going either way would astound you...
Bottom line: market expectation will always be your worst enemy if you're going to try to color outside the lines. Can you adjust your approach without compromising your theme?


Warrior Saints - Creator


message 29: by C.S. (new)

C.S. Wachter | 351 comments Carla wrote: "C.S. wrote: "Carla wrote: "Daniel wrote: "I think this is a big issue, and probably the lack of grit in Christian fiction is the number one thing keeping Christian fiction irrelevant. Sorry, I’m a ..."
Carla ... thanks for the input. I'm just uploading the first book in my next series on Amazon and I think, since it isn't as overtly Christian as The Seven Words series, I'm going to try to market it as YA fantasy and leave off the Christian category. I didn't think I could do that with The Seven Words, but Stone Sovereigns has a different feel.


message 30: by Carla (new)

Carla Thorne | 10 comments C.S. wrote: "Carla wrote: "C.S. wrote: "Carla wrote: "Daniel wrote: "I think this is a big issue, and probably the lack of grit in Christian fiction is the number one thing keeping Christian fiction irrelevant...."

And remember, you can have up to ten categories on Amazon, so you can add some after you see how it's going. You can also do AMS ads and just target certain audiences. Ex: I just took an ad class so I could do it right and not waste money. Though I am not in a Christian Fic category, I have an ad targeted to YA Christian Fic teen readers and parents because it is clean and will pass there. I'm not misrepresenting, just manipulating who sees what I have available to suitable audiences.


message 31: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Westlund | 25 comments Carla wrote: "C.S. wrote: "Carla wrote: "Daniel wrote: "I think this is a big issue, and probably the lack of grit in Christian fiction is the number one thing keeping Christian fiction irrelevant. Sorry, I’m a ..."

Well said!


message 32: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Newson (matthewnewsonbooks) | 5 comments First, thank you Lara for asking the question and starting the discussion. Thank you, also, to each of the authors who responded with their exceptional insight. I find this discussion fascinating as my newly launched series has been described as “gritty” or “dark” though it was a necessity of the content. As mentioned by others, the Bible does not sugar coat the violence of the battles or the grittiness of Lucifer and his deception. But, as others mentioned, what the Bible does do is balance that grit with the overwhelming theme of hope and life through Jesus. Perhaps that is the best place we can be as authors, engaging our readers with the gritty reality of the darkness that seeks to divide and kill, but highlighting more of the hope. To be honest, I feel at this stage the things that are most intriguing to people (both Christians and non-Christians) is the supernatural realm. They are desperate for understanding and clarity of the spiritual battle raging around them, but they have absolutely no idea what they are actually seeking. That is one goal of my writing, that my readers will be able to understand the spiritual realm from a more story-based narrative and be given tools (through Scripture references and acknowledgements of God and Jesus) to be able to seek more of the good. To be able to start from a place where they are comfortable and move into the knowledge of hope in Jesus over time. It is all a starting place.
On a different note, I entered my book in a BookFunnel promo in April that highlighted, Christian Fiction with Grit. If you want to see what types of books were listed, you can find it here (https://dashboard.bookfunnel.com/bund...). To be honest, when I first signed up, there was no mention of the promotion title, so it was intriguing to me that the host chose Christian Fiction with Grit. Looking through the list, it appears to be primarily Romances with a few Speculative Fiction thrown in. I may reach out to the host now that it’s almost over and find out more!
Overall, I think we (as Christian Fantasy authors) need to keep pushing the envelope, because without it the only narrative people are hearing pushes them towards the darkness.
Thank you again!


message 33: by Carla (new)

Carla Thorne | 10 comments Hey, Matthew - I love your series, The Man Wrapped in Darkness. I think some would call it gritty because it's a vivid and graphic depiction of hell and all its horror - and of Lucifer's treatment of the people who end up there with him. Best wishes as you launch!


message 34: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Westlund | 25 comments One writer around here who is amazing at this is Joshua David. Seed Judgement and Seed Charged are two amazing books. Somehow they are filled with violence, a bit of sex, and remain thoroughly Christian. Can't recommend them highly enough. Seed: JudgmentSeed: Charged


message 35: by Stan (last edited Apr 28, 2020 01:14PM) (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
Daniel wrote: "Wow. Your demon is evil. I prefer my demons to pick flowers and listen to Stephen Curtis Chapman."

This just about made me spit out a mouth full of coffee this morning! That's just so accurate that I need to cry over how ridiculous some people are, perhaps naive is the better word. So few Christians have the slightest notion of just how evil people really are - and they would deny it if you told them.

I've been working on some backstory for my Cyberpunk world and characters. Cyberpunk is all about "the dark future." So, some days I question how I think Christian Cyberpunk would actually work. And, I'm thinking it will probably be more like Shadow Run without the fantasy races.

Anyway, when you look at a character class like "nomad" (automobile and motorcycle cowboys that travel in packs) and think through their worldview of death, funeral, and succession of leadership in a godless world - let's just say no one present is listening to Stephen Curtis Chapman and the only flower picking is a veiled reference to things Christians don't want in their books. Oh for Victorian literature garden strolls!

But, here's the thing, if you know anything about Burning Man (and I know very little), you know that my nomads and their worldview are not actually very fictitious. But, when some nomads are human traffickers, how do you write that? Is it okay to describe without detail how they break children and turn them into slaves?

Then, when you have one or two characters who are Christians in that world, light is obviously light. It is similar to the Fellowship walking into Rivendale and experiencing refuge and rest and peace - things they have not experienced in months, or longer. Imagine someone who had never experienced those feelings suddenly realizing that such peace was possible. The only way to arrive in that situation is to live in an environment which is devoid of peace.

But, most Christians read fiction because reality is too real for them. Anyway, right now in world building phase I'm left with stories that aren't Christian and aren't YA.

Anyone else ever run into this problem?


message 36: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Newson (matthewnewsonbooks) | 5 comments Daniel wrote: "One writer around here who is amazing at this is Joshua David. Seed Judgement and Seed Charged are two amazing books. Somehow they are filled with violence, a bit of sex, and remain thoroughly Chri..."
Thank you Daniel! I will check him out!


message 37: by Stan (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
Just a quick note. I like to read books written in previous generations. They were often witty and gritty without being explicit. Here's an example from Little Fuzzy.

--“I take it they wanted you to sign this report, too?” “Yes, and I told Kellogg he could—” What Kellogg could do, it seemed, was both appalling and physiologically impossible.

I think many authors today are either too lazy or lack the creativity to turn a phrase like this that manages to avoid profanity (or other grittiness). Or, perhaps it is just the general rush to turn out books that prevents authors from taking the time to do so. Personally, I haven't gotten far enough into my story ideas to work on this level of creative expression.

What do you all think of working on creative expression to avoid certain words? Is it too unrealistic to write that way today?


message 38: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Westlund | 25 comments Stan wrote: "Daniel wrote: "Wow. Your demon is evil. I prefer my demons to pick flowers and listen to Stephen Curtis Chapman."

This just about made me spit out a mouth full of coffee this morning! That's just ..."


Love this post. Sounds like an interesting idea for your book. My book gets cyberpunky, but not apocalyptic. The villain is stopped in book one before he can take his cyberpunk abilities to their natural conclusion.

I liked the example you gave in your later post about avoiding cussing, but that is tough to do often, and would become a bit much and distracting if it happened all the time. But yeah, there are ways to handle it. Wish I just could use the beep sound like on The Goldbergs. That turns cussing from offensive to funny.


message 39: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Westlund | 25 comments Matthew wrote: "Daniel wrote: "One writer around here who is amazing at this is Joshua David. Seed Judgement and Seed Charged are two amazing books. Somehow they are filled with violence, a bit of sex, and remain ..."

If and when you do, reach out to him. He'd love to hear from you.


message 40: by Hannah (new)

Hannah McMillin (hannahchristine) | 3 comments When I think about "grit" in writing terms, I think about sand grinding under someone's boot as they walk. I think it's more of a writing style, that works to ground a story in reality by pointing out the seemingly insignificant things that are a huge part of lives, but that let us know we're alive- and pain and darkness play huge factors in that.

Unfortunately, the majority of the Christian fiction genre has been uncomfortable thus far to include certain, basic elements of everyday life, because they could have the appearance of evil or make someone stumble. Though I've read and enjoyed my share of fluffy and comforting Christian fiction (and quite a lot of it) I don't think it's always an edifying approach.

As Christians, we live in the world but aren't part of it, we eat and talk with sinners, but don't practice sin ourselves. I wish the Christian fiction community and the church, in general, were more willing to allow the darker parts of living in a fallen world in their reading.


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