In the last two entries posted here, I might have offered an opinion or two on what annoys me about Christian fiction (“I’m fine” and endless zings). Turns out a few other people are annoyed as well. Their comments here and on Facebook were interesting, funny, and pretty much spot on.
This is the last in the three-part series on the topic. Lest you think I hate all Christian fiction, my next couple of posts will be about what I like about the genre. There is plenty to like, and I’m naming names.
Read on for comments from readers about Christian fiction.
—I don’t like it when the author makes the good characters so good that they don’t make any wrong moves.
—The protagonist is almost always teeny tiny skinny and amazingly beautiful. Yes, there are skinny people out there but are they the only ones we can write about?
—All the zings simply get nauseating to the point I don’t want to know any more about the characters. Then reading time is done … SLAM!
—Zings, in real life, are rare and precious things! Twice a page makes them ordinary.
—I had to stop reading much Christian romance (especially shorter novels) because it annoyed me to no end that these people were always meeting, falling in love, and getting engaged in less than a week.
—It’s not only a “show, don’t tell” failure but also a lack of faith in the reader’s perception and imagination. We need not fill in all the blanks!
—As a single/never married, I would like to see a strong single not always get her man. I know that may not make for a good romance novel, but not everyone gets married. There should be a strong female character who wants to get married but who wants God’s best more!
—I hate books that publishers and writers try to pass off as having a strong female role and in the first five pages she meets a guy and the only thing we hear from her the rest of the book is how great he is. Are females only strong if they have a guy?
—I hate when a woman has great goals and dreams for her future, but none of them matter once she meets “the right one.” And really, do we believe (or even want to believe) there is only ever one right one?
—As an editor, the health of characters is something I pay attention to (food, rest, bodily functions, etc.). They don’t have to happen “on stage,” but there has to be time for them. I’ve been known to leave a note like, “btw, gangrene is setting in about now . . .”
—Why the heck does every character under stress forget to eat? Or simple forget to eat (fill in meal or meals here) when busy. Some of us eat more when stressed and we never go for a 10-mile run to relax. Can writers please find a different way to relieve stress besides running?
—Another pet peeve? How beautiful someone’s eyes are. Okay, so you want to keep it clean, but does every love interest have to have the deepest (insert eye color) we have ever seen?
—Am reading my second “Christian fiction” series and I wish they would leave all the beautiful women and handsome hunks of men out on the prairie. Of course it was the late 1800s and maybe they were all that back then.
—Sometimes the characters need to be more human and not super human.
There you have it. Editors, take note. Authors, take more notes.
FYI: Last week’s blogging was preempted by the Breathe Christian Writers Conference. I help plan this event held in Grand Rapids, Mich., and I couldn’t be prouder. We set a record for attendance; no crises occurred and attendees had lots of positive comments. Check us out at www.breatheconference.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Next year’s Breathe is Oct. 6-7, 2017, with keynote speaker Leslie Leyland Fields.
I want characters who are flawed. Like I am. Women who overcome obstacles. Women I can cheer for. I suppose that’s why I don’t read romance.
One of my biggest pet peeve in Christian fiction: Amish romance novels. How has this become such a huge part of the market? There is not an ounce of reality in these books, and I wonder…have the authors ever lived near an actual Amish community? I live in an area with a large Amish population, and let me share a few realities: horse apples all over the roads, car-buggy accidents, mistrust, scraggly facial hair, B.O. (Yeah, I said it.) Yes, they are kind, hard-working people, but the women are not all strong, the men are not all good-looking (I haven’t met one who is), and the children are not all above average.
Notes taken. Annoyances heeded. Ann, pretty please don’t ever let me fall into these potholes.
Love it. I bet this post could even be longer if you let it. 😀
I need to add that I dislike fiction books with a Christian label that are not purposefully trying to enable the reader to become a more faithful, more holy, more Christlike person. I think this verse applies to Christian writers even as they entertain readers: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph 4:29). For Christian writers “who are saying something” to entertain others, there is no such thing as neutral entertainment, not according to this verse. There is no neutral. If you are in a position of teaching, and have the ear of a reader for x number of hours, you had better not waste their life. Even if they want to waste their life. You are telling them something, so the message as it entertains must make them a better person or don’t say it. Because no message gives a message as well. Just saying. I wrote an infographic about what Christian literature should be, because what Christian fiction has become since Pilgrim’s Progress is shocking.