Can Christian Fiction Writers be Too Preachy?
One writer has a good discussion of this particular challenge.
What is the purpose of good fiction? To entertain and to so thoroughly draw a reader into the center of the story they never want to leave. To provide an escape, a chance for release for the reader. When we read a book, none of us want to be bashed over the side of the head with a message that is well… obvious.
“Preachy” comes in many different forms and all of them can be fatal to our fiction’s shelf life.
Ways of being preachy:
~ A gospel/ salvation message that is tacked on, that has not grown organically from the story.
~The author has an agenda that they must get across, and thus come across as a pushy argument instead of entertaining fiction.
~Everything always comes out the way the author wants. They have set up an agenda and then to make sure it always comes out their correct way, do everything within their power to make it happen, even if it doesn’t make sense for that character to do that.
In short, like I said above, all preachy fiction is agenda fiction.
It is true that when we start a story we have an idea of the message we want to get across to our readers. And that is the joy of writing in the CBA market. We can talk about our faith and show the love we have for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but the truth of the matter is, it has to make sense. I have read book after book that is agenda driven fiction for the word of God. A salvation message after salvation message meant to draw the reader to Christ, when all it does is push them away, because it isn’t real.
Fiction has to have believability to it. It has to make sense and before you can have a conversion scene, you must build that character up. Make him or her aware of their spiritual depravity. Then give them the full benefit of a good sermon. But even in that moment, you must be careful to not preach. There doesn’t need to be play by play scripture of the full conversion experience, in fact you are going to get across to the non- Christian reading this a lot better if you show the character after his transformation and his obvious change of attitude.
Think of it this way: who do you know has walked into a church for the first time in their life, with no spiritual training and bent their knee in the first service? Not. Many. And your readers know it.
I have agonized over this in my novel in progress. I would like your thoughts about this challenge. Thanks in advance.