18 August, 2005

Hot Christians In Print

Christian Fiction is the latest lifeboat for the financially beset [article requires purchase] U.S. publishing industry. This can only mean one of two things. Either we will start seeing quality Christian Fiction in the marketplace, or readers will have to get used to mediocre trade paperbacks with 16pt double-spaced type.

Step into any Christian bookstore or mosey over to the Religious Fiction ghetto in a mainstream bookstore and pick up any random piece of Christian fiction. Ninety percent of the time you will get:
1. Large type
2. Double spacing
3. Low page count
4. Continued story through multiple volumes, requiring seperate purchase.

I haven't figured out if this book design structure is due to the primary demographic skewing older or because there isn't that much book to these books.
If you plan to jump on the bandwagon, here are some suggestions from a Conservative Christian Bibliophile to help you with your writing.

The Thoene Rule Christians aren't generally mentally subnormal as an overall group. We can handle more complex characterizations and plot structures.

The Livingston Hill RuleMost of us are aware of the existence of sex, drinking, card-playing and cable television. Most of us partake of at least two of the four activities at some point in our life. Don't shy away from making your characters real, but please feel free to avoid the word 'tumescent'.

The Jenkins LaHaye Rule If you have one story to tell, try to fit it in one book. I get that your publishers would rather stretch it out to a multi-volume series but readers catch on. It's a shoddy practice and makes your carefully crafted work look simplistic.

The Peretti Rule Please avoid writing a book about the Sins of the Community turning into a tangible beast/serpent/dragon unless you are absolutely certain that you can pull it off. Hint: you can't.

The Holmes Rule Bible characters had interesting lives. Not all of them necessarily require you to rewrite their story in long form.

The Holmes Rule Part II: Rivers Clause It is also not necessary to 'reimagine' Bible characters in a different time period or setting. If you find your outline summary containing the sentence 'It's the story of Abednego, but set on Alpha Centauri' you may want to try again.

I spend thousands of dollars a year on books. In the last five years I have spent a grand total of $32.95 on Christian fiction. I'd like to see more of my money go in this direction, but please meet me halfway. To paraphrase Hank Hill: Make Christianity better. Don't make fiction worse.


At 3:01 AM, August 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 8:57 AM, August 18, 2005, Blogger Michael said...

katherine, you are just cool. I mean, you got a SPAM comment and everything...LOL

I'm with you on the Christian fiction. I hear people sing out platitudes for the Left Behind sereies and Peretti's work as "best books ever" and I go...am I reading the same book? I mean, they're good, but they're not great. I often wonder if I'm not "Christian enough" to "get them." Or maybe it is that I've been brought up to think and analyze things and to call sub-par fiction sub-par. I mean, I keep thinking of the South Park ep where Cartman and company have a Christian band because you can have less talent and if you change a word or to from you to Jesus, you will make a ton of cash. I wonder if it's the same thing in Christian publishing...

I mean, I heard Frank Peretti on the radio talking about Monster and I was like--hey, this sounds good. So, I checked it out of the library and...nyah, not so much. He had a good idea, but his agenda comes into the book so early and often that it's like being hit upside the head with a two-by-four repeatedly.

If you want Christian fiction that actually meets the merits you describe, I can recommend Robert Whitlow. He writes contemporary Chrisitan legal thrillers and before you go--yeah, right, let me say that hs characters think and act like humans. Yes, it's a bit predictable in that the protagonist is generally "saved" by story's end, but it never feels trite or cliched like, let's say, half the cast of the Left Behind books.

Also, Phillip Gulley's Harmony book are light, easy reading fare...they won't change your life, but they are fun to read.

At 9:21 AM, August 18, 2005, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Oh dear. These spam commenters are something, aren't they? I just noticed that one.

You've recommended Gulley before. I think I'll track him down.

At 1:45 PM, August 18, 2005, Blogger John H said...

Oldies but goodies: Narnia Chronicles..well-written by a master with good stories and saccarine-avoidance.

At 2:02 PM, August 18, 2005, Blogger Kat Coble said...

We need more Lewis and less LaHaye in Christian fiction these days.

Till We Have Faces and the Silent Planet trilogy are some of my all time favourites. And of course, The Chronicles of Narnia.

Where is that writing now? Why are we content with Janette Oke?

At 9:08 PM, August 18, 2005, Blogger Patrick said...

BTW, Blogger lets you delete specific comments in its interface.

I thought the Jenkins LaHaye rule was:

When you write a book with the intention of having one sequel, don't succumb to the temptation of stretching it out into a seven to eleventy-nine book series.

I personally have read a grand total of one of the "Left Behind" series. I can't commit to the whole durn thing.

At 9:19 PM, August 18, 2005, Anonymous Rapture Ain't Just A Blondie Song: BOOK ONE: Martian Cross said...

The man named Saul stepped from his rocket ship and looked down at the planet beneath him. It was a different planet, far far from the Earth that his God had made. Here, he thought, he would be safe from the tumescent serpent that had risen from the middle of the town after the gay marriages had begun. He had been one of them himself then, leaving the nightclub called The Damascus, but it was the site of the dark serpent made of sodomy and Judy Garland lyrics that had knocked him back onto a rock, and it was from that rock which the foundation of his church began.

At 9:20 PM, August 18, 2005, Anonymous Rapture Ain't Just A Blondie Song: BOOK TWO: The Second Flood said...

Saul knew he and New Christburg would flourish. But he was worried. What of the sins happening on the East side of New Christburg? The area by the dam? What if the rains kept falling, no matter how he prayed to his Lord for them to stop? Would the sinners be washed away in a Second Flood before they were saved? Saul knew there was only one thing to do: he had to change his name.

At 7:01 AM, August 20, 2005, Blogger Kat Coble said...

You do realize that whoever you are, I find you hysterical. In a good way.


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