Christian writers constantly face the dilemma about whether or not to mention God or Jesus in their fiction or how much Biblical information and Christian morals should they put in their writing. They have to wrestle with the decision of trying to reach the unsaved or simply write for the Christian reader.
But what about the Christian reader and/or the traditional Christian publisher? If you write for this market, does your entire manuscript have to be squeaky clean? Do your characters have to be perfect? Do you have to be preachy?
Of course, almost everyone has a different opinion. I entered a contest for Christian writers a year or so ago and I am hoping that my novel will reach both Christian and non-Christian readers who like historical fiction stories that don’t have profanity, explicit sex, or excessive violence.
Does that mean my characters are perfect and the story squeaky clean? Absolutely not because real people would not be able to relate to such a character or story. We all make bad choices and have to live with the consequences, and those of us who live the Christian life also do our best to change our behaviors/choices for the better, but we all struggle.
So, back to this contest. My main character is an honorable man who believes in the Lord and tries to do what’s right, but like everyone else, he faces challenges and temptations. Very early in my story he tells a lie, but before the scene is over, he admits the truth. My submission to the contest didn’t go to the next level because one of the judges was highly offended that my main character–the hero of the story–tells a lie and gave me low scores in all areas because of it. The judge also proceeded to tell me that the Christian Hero in a story must be righteous and cannot do something like tell a lie. This judge also said that no traditional Christian publisher would publish such a story.
Now, since I still haven’t quite finished the story, I haven’t even begun to look for a publisher of any kind, but I do know that I will never create a perfect character for thee reasons: 1) I want my readers to be able to relate to my characters; 2) I want my characters to be realistic; and 3) I want my stories to be interesting and hold my reader’s attention/keep them turning the pages.
I know that I would not read a story in which the main character does not face any struggles and does not show growth and change by the end of the book because such a story would be boring!
What about you? What are your thoughts about Christian fiction — perfect characters or characters who struggle with some of the same things you struggle with?