Writing Faith-based Fiction

Sometimes people ask me how Christian fiction or other faith-based fiction is different from other genres, genres like romance, mystery/thrillers, science fiction/fantasy, westerns, or a number of other specific genres.

To answer their questions simply, I usually say something like, “Well, Christian and faith-based fiction comes from layering in a spiritual element that might not otherwise be found in the story.”

That’s the short answer. That’s the vague answer.

The longer answer would take, well, longer and would go something like this: Christian and other faith-based fiction occurs when the main character (or hero) realizes a fundamental need for faith. This realization builds throughout critical moments in the novel but really comes to pass around the climax–either just before or during the climax–when, without faith, the character sees that she will not succeed. Without faith she will fail. Faith, then, is the mechanism that drives the character to win against the antagonist (or villain). And, why? Because without faith the villain will win. In other words, satan will win.

But as writers we might find it intelligent to go one step further. We might also want to bolster our already powerful climax when we write that the villain also sees a fundamental change in our hero. That the villain understands the hero now has God and all His glory helping her in the battle. When the villain sees God’s might, the villain then quails against our hero because of God. Ultimately, making satan quail against God also. This makes for a two-fold win for our story.

Maybe you’re wondering what other experts say about Christian fiction and how it differs from other genres.

Wikipedia explains Christian fiction as: A Christian novel is any novel that expounds and illustrates a Christian world view in its plot, its characters, or both, or which deals with Christian themes in a positive way.

Late in 2014, The Library Journal wrote this about Christian fiction that will crossover to other readers and not just Christian readers: If the Christian content is subtle and organic, such readers are willing to consider an inspirational novel. I think this is why my novel THE DEER EFFECT has done so well. It was slated more in the inspirational categories and won two awards for inspirational novels because of the subtlety of the message on belief. Of course, it also one an award for religious fiction and the other for Christian fiction. So, you can see how a more subtle approach will be more widely read.

And, isn’t that what we Christians authors hope for our readers? For those readers who might not be fully vested in the idea of Christianity see the possibility of the existence of Jesus and His promise of life everafter?

Our Christian faith teaches that we are supposed to minister to nonbelievers even when we find them persecuting us. My faith has led me to minister through writing within a faith-based genre. But, then, again, all of my novels have always dealt with the existence of God no matter how subtle I was about weaving faith into the story.


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