Recently, I received an email concerning Christian authors writing for the general market. The message went like this: ‘Dear Vanessa, I want to use my talents and become a professional author. I am a Christian, but I don’t want to write for the Christian market. I want to write for the general market, but don’t want to displease God. Is this wrong?’
My initial answer to this question would be no, there is nothing wrong with a Christian author writing for the general market. Many have done this, using what is known as an allegory style of storytelling, such as CS Lewis, with his infamous Chronicles of Narnia series.
But, when probing this potential author further, I realised what their main issue was. Most Christian authors, who want to write for the general market, struggle about where they ought to draw the line, especially when writing fiction. They want to keep it realistic, but without compromising their faith. For example, if there is a romance scene, how far do they go with the romance, without it being erotic? Or how can they portray a character being angry, without cursing?
Well, the Bible states that we must live to please the Lord: ‘Then the way you live will always honour and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better’ (Colossians 1:10 NLT). All that He has given us must be done to please and glorify Him.
Although, as a Christian agent, I have at times represented books that aren’t necessarily Christian-based, I do not want to compromise the Word of God. If you’re a fiction writer, and you are writing a passionate scene, would it please God if the two characters went beyond a kiss and they weren’t married? Would inserting a swear word please God? The Bible states: ‘Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them’ (Ephesians 4:29 NLT).
Yes, you have to be realistic, but do all things in moderation. I represent authors who write in a genre called ‘edgy Christian fiction’. Normally, in most Christian-based fiction books, the characters are ‘perfect’, can do no wrong, and don’t portray issues that reflect real life. However, there are authors, including the ones that I have represented, who have stood up against that.
Their books contain characters with flaws, going through the dramas of everyday life. Not once have these authors diminished their faith values and ethics to write a story, yet these books are written for the general market, and are being enjoyed by many readers today.
Remember, whatever talent you have been given, use it for God’s glory. You are Christ’s representative. Whether you choose to write for the general audience or not, you can write a good entertaining book – without forgetting your foundation in Christ.