Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Edgy - Should Christians Write on the Edge?

As you move through the process of presenting your work, you'll be bombarded by the typical industry 'lingo'. Some might come in the form of a rejection letter or others in conversations making suggestions regarding your writing. Before succumbing to the lingo you need to take time to understand what the terms mean and how they will affect your book - or if they even will.

Perhaps the most used catchphrase today is edgy. The tide has been turning against classic, solid timeless storytelling to edgy. But what exactly does edgy mean? Edgy is different for adults than young adults, though some are heavily pushing more adult material into young adult, juvenile and even little children's books. Certainly edgy in secular fiction is quite different than in Christian novels. Or is it? Have the lines blurred so greatly between secular and Christian fiction that the distinction is barely visible?

To an editor, edgy means to push the envelope, to take people just to edge of improper and pull back. In short whet their appetite and go a little further next time. Is that really what we’re called as Christians- or even authors - to do? Bring people the edge of sin and pull back? To entice them into wanting more darkness and then satisfy induced curiosity with further edginess? Where does the author’s responsibility come into this trend? All publishers are in the business of making money and will follow current trends to help their bottom line – profit.

Fortunately, in my experience, despite the push toward edgy, people aren’t biting. I’ve encountered many who are rebelling against the trend. Parents seek suitable substitutes for these edgy books on school reading lists in favor of what they feel is more appropriate for their children. Even kids want fun stories. In the Christian market the Amish books dominate. Some of the most popular secular kids books are Narnia, Percy Jackson, and oh, yes, the ultimate of edgy - Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

So when an editor, publisher or agent throws the term edgy at you concerning your manuscript, ask them what exactly do they mean? How will it help your book? Does their suggestion compromise what you want to say in your story? Don't go edgy for the sake of publication. Just like trendy fashion fads come and go but classic styles remain, so fiction styles change, but timeless, well-told stories live on. Do what you feel is right for your story, your peace of mind, your readers and ultimately, the impact and legacy your books will someday leave behind.

Shawn Lamb is the author of the epic Christian YA fantasy series Allon, along with The Huguenot Sword, and once wrote for the animated series BraveStarr, produced by the same studio that did He-Man and She-Ra. She has won several screenwriting awards including a Certificate of Merit from the American Screenwriters Association. This year she is among The Authors Show - 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading 2011.
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