OK, before you come at me with pitchforks and passive aggressive prayers for my well-being, here's what I mean:
Christian fiction needs to portray life as it is, not as we want it to be.
Before we dive into that let's cover ...
What this doesn't mean:
1. Adding an F-bomb every other word because "that's how people talk." Sure, yes. But people also talk using "umms" and awkward pauses, that we remove from dialogue.
2. Adding gratuitous sex scenes, acts of violence, or R-rated elements because we want to make it more real.
3. Adding basically anything that seems forced such as a sudden cutting habit in teenagers or a character suddenly plunging into severe depression because it makes the story seem more gritty and relatable for teens. Not because the plot led the author or character to these decisions.
We still want our stories to be authentic and carry a message of hope. That being said:
I love a sweet, feel-good romance. But about ten romance books in, I need a slight dose of reality. I need something that punches me in the gut. I need authenticity, real authenticy. Something that says, yes, I go through this, too. Yes, life is hard, but worth it.
- Where the character gets severe stomach problems because he's launched into a scary school situation and has previously wrestled with anxiety before.
- Where this character's best friend deals with an abusive dad who no longer lives with their family because it was too toxic.
- Where three-quarters of the main characters have single-family parents because, yes, even in Christian circles divorce happens at the same rate that it does on the national level.
Yes, this all happens in Den. A work of YA fiction with some Christian themes.
And yes, this all happens in real life.
If you plan to write for the inspirational market, I encourage you to write beyond the picture-perfect presentation we often will receive in inspirational media. Sure, it feels good, like a chick flick or certain comedies. But, those are like candy. Too many, and you'll get a stomachache or a cavity.
We need to taste bitter things to remind us of the sweet ones. We need to see darkness to appreciate the light. We must have an inkling of despair if we are to ever understand hope.