I’m Starting a New Genre: Clean Fiction

I’ve been thinking about this thing for a while. Since this morning, actually. You’ll either think I’m brilliant, or you’ll brand me a heretic. Either way, here goes. There should be a new genre, a stepchild to the Christian market, and it should be called: Clean Fiction. If we can make that happen, people, that’s where I’ll be.

Because I’ve noticed a divided camp on what authors and readers think Christian fiction should be, and I know there is a multitude of people out there who don’t read it because they have some preconceived notions about what it is—like maybe it’s just 300-400 pages of conversion-oriented evangelism dressed up like a story. Or it’s filled with perfect Christian characters…doing what?

*crickets chirping*

Right.

Because that just doesn’t sound very interesting. I’m not a proponent of perfect. In fact, I think that intentionally cultivating a perfect image alienates people from Christianity. You might say it even borders on irresponsibility. And people get this idea of Christianity from somewhere, even it is not always completely accurate.

So where does such an inane idea come from? Maybe because there are so many topics that are considered unacceptable for publication in the Christian market because they are too dark, too racy, and so on and so forth. Those stories end up in the general fiction market where they may be too clean.

So I think it’s time for a new genre—one where characters are allowed to say “crap” or “that sucks” or maybe they drink a glass of wine or get caught up in something unseemly that they have to conquer—and when they get really, really super mad, maybe they let a (mild) curse word fly, or maybe they don’t. But at least it’s honest and it’s real.

These kinds of books are out there. People just need to find them. Google “clean fiction” and you’ll see what I mean.

And I think more people would publish as Christian if it weren’t for the paradoxical risk of Christian criticism where something is always too Christian or not Christian enough. In the end, meaningful fiction can touch people’s lives without feeling “religious.”

And readers should be able to find books they can feel safe with–where they can trust they are not going to stumble into a graphic sex scene after they just gave a copy of that same book to their teenage daughter or Christian coworker.

And that, my friends, is my big thought for the day.


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