The object of this article is to explore a
rapidly growing segment of writing titled "Christian
Fiction". Although it has been referred to and
considered a genre of its own, in reality, it
The Christian Booksellers Association (CBA)
considers it an umbrella term to a wide variety
of sub-genres, such as these Christian categories:
Allegorical, Apocalyptic, Biblical, Chic Lit,
Contemporary, Westerns, Fantasy / Science, Historical,
Romance, Mystery / Suspense, Thrillers and Supernatural.
The CBA books basically have no explicit sex
or swearing, and generally, possess a strong
evangelical message, which sets them apart from
secular houses. In most cases this differs from
the books carried by the American Booksellers
Regardless of what these two associations condone,
people have always loved a good story. This
can be proven by Jesus Christís numerous recorded
parables in the New Testament of the Holy Bible.
A parable, as explained in the dictionary, is
designed to teach a moral. This is the case
in all books of Christian fiction.
Author Janette Okeís book Love Comes
Softly, released by Bethany Publishing
in 1979, which covers historical, Christian
and romance fiction demonstrates to a reader
that Christian love can have an impact on relationships
despite adversity and hardships. Her series
of novels has opened the door to allow a flood
of new writers to enter the field of Christian
In keeping with today, people are finding themselves
confronted with issues of faith to cope with
economic stress. The poor and downtrodden have
always raised their eyes to the heavens for
relief from their every day miseries.
Each time there is an economic crisis, religious
books climb to a new height on the best sellerís
list. The last few years have once again proven
that fact and has given birth to the latest
buzzwords "growing up" pertaining to Christian
fiction. To quote author Jan Dennis, "Itís becoming
more sophisticated," which means its involving
more realism and different themes that deal
with the nationís current problems.
Faith, to some, in many cases is tied to truth,
which can be related through Christian fiction.
But, only if the reader comes away from what
is inscribed upon the pages with a strong sense
Christian fiction can be intended to instruct,
such as Aesopís fables, which are didactic stories.
This method is the simplest way to connect a
relationship to God and a reader. Real issue
stories tend to allow the reader to become "in
mind," a character in the biblical story. Thusly,
helping the reader to give God a significant
role in their lives.
Older books pertaining to Christian fiction
were usually set in a small town about ordinary
people in ordinary situations. Their pace was
normally "slow and gentle" and didnít contain
profanity, strong violence, addictions and the
sexual conduct of a character.
Now, the writing has picked up speed and more
of the worldly situations are within the pages
of Christian fiction books. This has been caused
by todayís "now generation," which seems to
crave allowing the devilís heavy hand to slip
The additions of more sub-genres have increased
the Christian fiction segment substantially.
Why? Because the stories are more "aggressively
evangelical," which has been proven by a 2003
study that produced evidence that half of Americans
read Christian books and one-third buy them.
Take for instance, the seventh in the "left
behind" series Indwelling: The Beast Takes
Possession (2005) by Tim LaHaye and
Jerry B. Jenkins which sold over two million
copies of the forty million that have been sold,
to date, in this series. This relates that fiction
is one of the fastest growing categories in
Letís take a look at one of the hottest categories
in Christian fiction: "Urban Christian
Fiction" (UCF). This sub-category usually
portrays the everyday lives of the minority
classes that depict their vivid and emotional
conflicts that mix God, faith and the Urban
Urban Christian fiction doesnít omit violence
or sex from its story line, but weaves it into
the plot thatís based upon its relevance. In
some cases it can be called "Street Lit," except
God plays an important part or is the center
of the charactersí lives.
There are two main elements of Urban Christian
Fiction: raw honesty, where the characters donít
fully hide their feelings when it comes to God,
themselves or men of the cloth, such as, pastors
/ deacons / priest / clergymen. However, blasphemy
is not acceptable.
Drama is the second element and it must contain
situations where the characters donít always
do it right and sometimes they get caught doing
it wrong. UCF neither hides nor covers up the
sins or faults of the storyís characters. In
exposing the characters' shortcomings, it also
shows to the reader that God is all-powerful.
It is unpredictable, which allows the protagonist
to get gritty and raw, and the story endings
donít necessarily fall into a cookie cutter
mold. In plots, the evil forces of the demon
can sway the protagonist even with a strong
relationship with God. This is especially true
where there are church scandals that are eminent
and unavoidable, which add to the drama of the
Personally, I tend to believe that this segment
of Christian fiction is very forthcoming and
will, eventually, take a strong presence among
the top sellers.
There is a need for new talent in this fast
growing field. But, donít begin to think that
breaking into any segment of the Christian fiction
market is easy. A successful writer in this
field must possess the natural talent of placing
enthralling prose that will keep the reader
turning pages. You must stay within the parameters
of the CBA, which has been mentioned in the
opening paragraphs of this article. First, learn
the rules and dictates that apply to this segment
Here are a few recommended technique tips from
successful Christian authors (too many to mention)
on how to write or create a page turning Christian
- Look up the word "Christianity" in the dictionary
and understand the meaning of religion that
follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.
- Read the Bible. You donít need to be a Christian
to write Christian fiction, but it pays to
understand their ways and beliefs.
- Use the Internet and its search engines.
This will help you create a source for a reference
list to store information and for possible
biblical quotes. The Encarta Online Dictionary
is a very valuable source of definitions of
Christianity and Christian.
- Nearly any subject is open to write about,
just remember to use prudence in how you handle
- The majority of Christian fiction readers
want to be entertained, taught and inspired
as much as readers in other genres.
- There is a trove of family value plots in
the Holy Bible.
Finally, religious didactic writing is on the
up swing, but what you create must be a good
product with spiritual artistic quality to be
successful, regardless of what genre you use.
Itís a safe bet to consider writing about contemporary
issues, where faith is tested by the challenges
of the real world. Remember the conflict between
good and evil isnít new, but it can be presented
in many different ways.
As stated earlier, this segment is "growing up" and becoming more
sophisticated, so keep that in mind if you decide to take a stab
at writing any form of "Christian Fiction." And, of
course if you do, I hope you the best in your endeavor.
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