Recently I've seen something come up on a couple of Christian websites that probably needs to be addressed, because sooner or later some us may find ourselves caught squarely in the crosshairs ... so to speak. Namely, violence in Christian fiction. Not surprisingly the subject quickly found "some agin 'em and some for 'em," as we used to say down South.
In the first group are the … well, call them the "traditionalists", for lack of a better term. Without painting these folks with too broad a brush, they're mainly women, mostly older, and they prefer romance fiction, with a likeminded readership. Violence is anathema to this group, as it should be. These ladies prefer writing--and reading--books with a female lead who is either going through a life crisis or having survived the same, the resolution of which causes them to meet Mister Right. I understand sometimes bonnets are involved. Or something. If that sounds like I don't understand chick lit, you're probably right. But God bless those that do, and God really bless the houses that seem to produce them in freight car lots.
On the other side are the Others (sounds like a Lost episode). For good or ill, I find myself in this group. We're the ones trying to push our books a bit further out. Oddly, this bunch seems (the operative word being "seems") to be growing more rapidly than the first. Is it because our stuff is better-written? Doubtful; over the years I've read some CBA novels going for "edgy" that were simply poorly-penned dreck with Jesus tacked on. Story is still king, folks.
On reflection, I think this group is trying to fill a perceived need: to wit, a dearth of hard-edged fiction that delivers a solid story without "crossing the line" … wherever that is. Sometimes the experiment works, and sometimes it doesn't. When it works, it seems to work splendidly. And when it doesn't ... well.
Which brings us to violence. What's been going hot and heavy on those other boards is the discussion of "how much is too much." In other words, if a story features a showdown between the hero and the villain, what is its logical conclusion? Does the villain suddenly drop his gun, repent his ill deeds, and vow to Walk the Straight and Narrow Evermore? Or does the said bad guy go for his gun (a fraction of a second too slow) and get drilled through the pump for his trouble? Anyone who's ever seen a John Wayne movie can answer that. I'll confess my own stuff tends to the latter resolution. Why? Because as I said upstream, the story demands it. In my world, simply put, some villains are no darn good, and will never be (Adolph Hitler, anyone?).
I'll admit the whole thing is as sticky as new paint, and I'll also be the first to admit that in my own case having a Christian hero who not only packs a gun, but is willing to use it to defend the weak and the powerless, is less than an ideal situation. But we live in a less than ideal world, and sometimes all that's left is to kill a rabid dog rather than trying to reason with it.
At any rate, it's an ongoing conundrum, a debate which has now gotten so heated even the secular press is staring take note. Where will it end? God knows. He really does, though, and about the best we as writers can do is write the most honest story we can.
So with that said, where do you find yourselves on the writing spectrum? Is there a middle ground? Are there some subjects you won't tackle, for whatever reason? Where is your "dividing line?"
Linda Apple is the author of Writing From Your Soul, Writing Life ~ Your Stories Matter, Connect ~ A Simple Guide to Public Speaking for Writers, POW; Promises Kept and Women Of Washington Avenue, her debut novel and the first book in her Moonlight Mississippi series. Her personal experience stories have been published in 16 of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her devotions have been published in numerous devotion magazines and books. She lives in Fayetteville Arkansas with her husband, Neal, their five children, five children-in-love, and ten grandchildren.
Jody Bailey Day writes inspirational fiction from west Texas. Her debut novel, Washout Express, released June 2013 from Harbourlight Books. Her short stories, poems, devotionals, and articles have appeared in Mature Living, Splickety Magazine, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Southern Writers Magazine, and Christiandevotions.us, She is a two time Grand Prize Winner at the East Texas Christian Writers Conference, and a Faithwriters.com Best of the Best award winner. She and her pastor husband have six grown children and nine grandchildren.
Deborah Dee Harper writes from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, by way of Michigan, Kentucky, Alaska, Mississippi, and Alaska (again). Deb is a graduate of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild classes and writes Christian humorous and inspirational books for both children and adults. Her children’s adventure series, Laramie on the Lam, available in both e-book and print, is being re-published as six individual print books. Her Road’s End series (Misstep, Faux Pas, and Misjudge) for adults is also contracted and should be published soon. She is currently nearing completion on the first book of another series. She is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency.
Lisa Lickel is an award-winning multi-published inspirational novelist, blogger, reviewer, and writing mentor. A freelance editor, Lisa loves all things historical. Her work has appeared in Writer's Digest and Christian Fiction Online.
Liberty Speidel has been a voracious reader since reading her first Nancy Drew book. But she was telling stories long before then with her figurines from Disney's Rescue Rangers. When she's not writing, you may find her gardening, baking, crocheting, or hiking. A lifelong Kansan, she now resides in the Kansas City metro area with her husband, children, and chocolate Labrador, where she could rival Captain Jean Luc Picard in consumption of Earl Grey tea. She is the author of Emergence, Retaliation, and Capitulation, novellas and novels in her series featuring superhuman and police detective Darby Shaw.
Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in English literature (Renaissance) and for eighteen years taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His poetry has appeared in leading journals and is collected in his book Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond.His fiction includes a light-hearted mystery, Rhapsody in Red, and two suspense novels, Deadly Addictive and The Lazarus File, and a historical romance, Lightning on a Quiet Night. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ groups and conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he continues to write fiction and poetry, as well as essays on writing, ethical issues, and U.S. foreign policy.
Editor/Author Linda Yezak lives with her husband in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She is a speaker/lecturer for various writers' groups and conferences. Her fiction books include Give the Lady a Ride, The Simulacrum, and The Cat Lady's Secret. Her nonfiction books include Writing in Obedience, co-written with Hartline Literary agent Terry Burns.
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