Why Some Evangelical Christian Fiction ‘Needs’ a Salvation Message #ChristianFiction

Preachy fiction— or ‘messagy’ fiction if the message is about global warming, critical race theory, LGBTxyz rites, or atheism— annoys most readers. Even Christian readers don’t like a sermon in a work of fiction— we can find our own sermons, thank you.
Salvation messages in Evangelical Christian fiction seem really off purpose, since it’s the already saved Evangelical Christian that’s the sort of reader that’s drawn to this type of fiction.
But there is a reason why there is some tradition behind including a salvation message in Evangelical Christian novels. At one time, there were a few scattered evangelical denominations which taught that when you got saved, you gave up certain worldly things— drinking alcohol, playing cards, wearing make-up, and reading worldly novels.
I’m not sure any churches exist today that are that strict. I think that in every church out there, the majority of church members have televisions and view worldly programming to some degree.
But back in the day, a salvation message reassured the already-saved reader that he was, in fact, reading a work of fiction that was NOT worldly. It was like a kind of permission slip to read that book.
“Christian fiction” has a bad reputation these days— even among people who admit they have never read a single work of Christian fiction. In part, it’s because many readers, even Christian readers, were put off by that Christian fiction that inserted salvation messages, sermons, and moralizing (works righteousness) to the detriment of the goal of fiction— entertaining the reader with a good story.
Christians might think— but what if some unsaved person picks up a Christian book? Shouldn’t it have a salvation message, just in case?
Well, this is my experience. For a part of my life I was not a Christian but had abandoned my childhood faith and chosen Asatru (Norse Paganism) as my faith.
During those years, the Left Behind series came out, and I read them eagerly, because it had an exciting story. But I never came back to Christianity because of the messages in that book, and later when I did return to Christianity never joined a church that believed the Rapture theory taught by the Left Behind books.
I think Christian writers of all church backgrounds are well advised to concentrate on telling an entertaining, fast-paced, action filled story. Don’t preach sermons— you aren’t qualified to do that unless you’ve been to seminary, anyway. Plant seeds of faith. Don’t hit your readers over the head with the hammer of a hard-sell Christian message. Trust the Holy Spirit to work in people’s hearts.
Have you ever read a book where the author’s message got too intrusive on the story? Did you enjoy that or did it annoy you. What about fiction that merely ‘planted seeds’ of a message, Christian or otherwise?
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Why Go on MeWe? #freespeech #censorship

Why go on MeWe, an alternate and more free-speech-oriented social medium? Imagine this scenario.
You have a new book coming out and you are trying get the word out to your fans. You usually use Facebook. But, surprise! You’ve just got suspended from Facebook.
What did you do? You don’t have to do much. You said an ordinary think that half the people in the country might say, or shared a meme with it, or quoted the wrong Bible verse, or you commented the wrong comment on someone else’s post like the above. I have heard of grandmothers getting suspended or banned, even though Facebook is their main way of staying in touch with grandchildren and other relations.
That’s a good reason not to depend on the pro-censorship social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pintarest) and build up something up off the reservation.
My own chosen alternative media are MeWe and Gab. Both have their problems. And one major thing we writers have as a problem is that it’s hard to get some of our fans to follow us to an alternative social media. But Facebook, for one, seems to be out to chase away its user base with their constant attempts to control the conversation about a stolen election, a vaccine that doesn’t work, and about ‘extremism.’
Since many use their MeWe (or Gab) as a backup, I think we need a greater number of contacts on an alternate than on our pro-censorship media accounts.
I have:
431 Facebook friends.
1404 Twitter followers.
194 MeWe contacts.
172 Gab followers.
To get started on MeWe: open an account, using your real name or pen name— whichever you use for writing. Put up a profile picture and a cover photo like on on other social media.
Join groups. Most groups have the problem that people post stuff— often off-topic spam— and then run away. Don’t be like that. Interact with what other people post in a friendly way. Do that for a few days in each group. And when you make your first post, don’t make it a book spam! Instead, ask a question for other people to respond to. Be a group nurturer, not a group spammer.
Here are some groups I am in:
Heinlein’s Rules for Writers (I’m the admin)
Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance
Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans
Christian Speculative Fiction Writers
Space Opera Writers (no promos)
And you can always use ME for your first MeWe contact: https://mewe.com/i/nissaannakindt
The biggest hint— use MeWe every single day that you use ANY social media. Use MeWe first. Post links to every blog post you make there. Post a little something every time you visit MeWe. Share memes, but also say stuff for yourself— and not all book spam. Have an ‘author persona’ that’s interesting to follow— or weird, or funny, or angry about crooked politicians or anti-Christian elements of society, or anti-semitism.
OK, as working writers does that mean we have to give up Facebook and Twitter in protest of censorship? Or boycott Kindle Direct Publishing even though it’s a major income source? No. We can still make our money off the pro-censorship forces. My own blog posts get posted automatically to my Twitter through a trick of WordPress. (They promise to do the same for Facebook, but that doesn’t work and I’d have to revive my almost-dead FB author page.)
What about you? Are you on MeWe? Please share your link so I can make a contact request to you. If you have other free-speech social media to recommend, let us know about it.

What Time Should You Write Every Day? #writing #writinglife

Remember Heinlein’s Rules for Writers? Number one is: You Must Write. Number two is: You Must Finish What You Write. That implies that in some specific time, you will be writing. What is the best time to write?
The time that you have open. All writers have lives and day jobs and laundry to do and cat boxes to clean. Somewhere in we must set aside some bit of time to write.
This does not need to be some perfect ‘best time for ME.’ It just needs to be time you are not required to be doing something else.
Some writers with very demanding day jobs and lives get up a couple of hours early to write, or write late at night when everyone is asleep. Others take snatches of time during their working day— during breaks and lunch— to write a few words into cell phone or notebook.
Do you need other people’s ‘buy-in’ or permission to write? No. If your husband or wife laughs at your writing ambition, just do it on the sly. You don’t have to tell anyone what you are doing. Maybe people can be made to assume you are spending too much time on MeWe or Facebook.
Monica Leonelle teaches writing in 8 minute writing sprints. Surely you can find 8 minutes lying around somewhere, right? 8 minutes isn’t much. We may spend that much time changing TV channels looking for a program that sucks a little less than the others. But 8 minutes a day, every day, adds up to something.
If you watch TV, or futz around on social media, or listen to radio, you probably have minutes, even hours, you can repurpose for writing use. Yes, maybe you can’t binge-watch that cruddy reality TV show quite so long, or you have to bring your social media usage under better control.
But the rewards of making time for writing is getting to write, which is fun if you do it right, and having a writing career. The ‘punishment’ for not making the time is not being a writer. You don’t have to be a writer. Maybe it’s more fun for you to play golf or bongo drums. But writing demands your time. It may also munch your soul, just a little. But that’s what it takes to be a writer.
Have you ever had a problem making time to write? What worked for you?
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From Head-Fiction to Words on a Page #writing

I’ve been making up stories in my head since early childhood. I’d go walking— ideally in the nearest wooded or wild spot— and take along my ‘imaginary friends’ and think up stories for them. I don’t know quite how early these story walks began, but I know I went for unauthorized walks when I lived in Arvada, Colorado, and that would have been when I was kindergarten age.
My earliest story friends were characters from TV shows— Batman and Robin, the crew of the Enterprise, the people of Dark Shadows. My first original characters were people I made up to interact with my TV characters.
My head-fiction wasn’t exactly like real fiction from a book. My stories didn’t have a proper beginning, middle and end, nor much of a plot. I would re-run scenes I liked and ignore what might have happened next.
As I developed an identity of myself-as-writer, thanks to the character ‘Jo’ in Little Women, I began making up stories that weren’t set in the Star Trek universe, but were my own stories. I even started writing things down.
I quickly figured out I couldn’t just set down my imaginings from my head. The stories had no plot, my dialog went on pointlessly, just to give characters a chance to make more smart aleck remarks, and it didn’t go on to an ending.
I realized I had to learn more about writing, and so I got my first-ever how-to-write book, ‘Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print’ by Lawrence Block. I knew Block’s writing from his short stories in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.
Block gave his readers a bum steer. He said they should start out writing novels instead of short stories— even though Block himself started out writing short stories. His reasoning was that there was no market left for short stories, and so writing short stories wasn’t a selling proposition.
But the thing is this: most of our first efforts won’t be sold for money anyway. Any more than a professional artist was able to sell the first rough sketch he did in childhood. We have to practice first.
Once one learns a little bit of the structure of a short story or novel, you can start plugging your head-fiction into the structure, and create some ideas to fill out the rest of it.
This means doing a bit of an outline or pre-planning. If you feel you are a natural ‘pantser,’ go on ahead pantsing— you can plug in the structure things in a second, ‘taming the chaos’ draft.
Planning a story ending is hard for me. it’s like saying the fun time and my beloved characters should be scheduled for death. Which is silly. As a writer your fun time can go on and on through many different stories, and you might use the same characters in other stories. Even characters you’ve killed off— just give him a new name, appearance, and characteristics.
When you sketch out your story’s beginning, middle and end and the various plot points, remember you are not committed to use any part of this plan if something better occurs to you in the course of writing.
I have still not fully mastered the trick of turning my head-fiction into words on a page. Some of my head-fiction remains at the childish, fragmented stage, and that’s okay. It has a different purpose than the fiction-fantasies I have on purpose about my current WIP. I may go for a ‘plot-walk’ to work out how the next scene up will be scheduled to go.
What about you? Do you have fiction running around in your head? What do you do with it? Have you worked out any tricks for turning it in to written-down fiction? Share in a comment!
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AspieLife: A Solitary Confinement Life

People with Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder) lead lonely lives, almost always. We don’t make friends easily. We often have fearful social interactions in which we are bullied or blamed, often by people who should be protecting us from such things.
Earlier in my life, before my diagnosis with Aspergers in middle age, I felt like I was living life in solitary confinement. It seemed like everyone else on the planet had at least one friend, while I could barely find someone who would tolerate talking to me for a few sentences.
Of course, the solitary confinement idea wasn’t too accurate. If I was sent to a supermax prison for a life of solitary confinement, I’d see correctional officers every single day, and perhaps also a trusty to deliver my meals and my library books, if the prison had a library. And I could talk to the cons in nearby cells. I’d have more social interaction in one day than I normally have in a week.
The internet is a real plus for people like me. Before Facebook went into full mind-control mode, I found lots of people to interact with there, including some of my cousins, my brother, and my nieces. Many of these internet friends of mine have backup accounts on MeWe or Gab, so I’ll still be in contact when Facebook gets wise to me.
Social media are not the same as real social interaction. I think of my internet friends by their screen name and profile pic, either of which may be subject to change. But when I feel down, my magical internet friends try to be helpful. (The magical internet trolls, on the other hand, try to tear me down. Which is funny.)
If I lived in the big city, I might be able to parlay my social media friendships into real-world social contacts. I do have a few local people as social media contacts— I bought my baby chicks from one.
But my decades of lonely life have made me ‘institutionalized.’ Unlike when I was forced to attend school classes, I’ve been alone for years, with my only social interaction being to say hello to the cashiers who sell me cream, coconut oil, meat, low-carb bread and other life essentials. Thanks to coronavirus hysteria and Michigan Fuehrher Gretchen Wittmer, I can’t even go to Mass any more.
If you have Asperger Syndrome, cherish any social connections or family that you have. Don’t expect perfection from them, though you shouldn’t let them boss you around, either. You need whatever social connections you can have— even if the other people involved are weirder than us.
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Building a Writing Routine.

To be a real writer, you have to treat your writing like a job, not like a hobby you do just when you feel inspired.
Say you got a job at a Walmart. You’d get your schedule and it would be up to you to get up and get dressed on time, and to get yourself to the store ready to work. No matter how high up in the world you think you are, if you didn’t come in on time or if you came in but you insisted on eating your fast-food breakfast and drinking your coffee before you actually did anything, before long some other fellow would have your job.
Writing is a way of being self-employed. You have to be two people— the poor schlub that does the work, and the manager that tells the poor schlub what to do and when to do it. For a lot of us writers, the hard part is teaching our poor schlub self how to have a good work ethic about writing.
Time to write.
When you have a day job, when it’s time to work, you go in, prepared to do actual work. You should feel the same way about the start of your daily writing stint. You sit down in your writing area, turn on your writing device (I’ve got a keyboard and a cell phone at the moment, typing in to an Evernote document) and you get going. It helps not to have distractions around. If you put on the television, next thing you know you will be caught up in a program and not writing at all. The same goes for putting on the radio. I don’t even put on recorded music much any more, because if I hit a tune I like, I may want to get up and dance. (If you know what I look like, try hard not to visualize this.)
Real work first.
Many professional writers only count the new words, writing forward, that they have done in their day’s word count. Outline-writing, world-building documents, and that 57th draft just do not count. Blog posts for various blogs and topics also aren’t counted.
I’m not so strict with myself. I’m writing this blog post right now, as the first part of my daily writing stint. It’s actually a little easier to write a blog post than buckle down to my story. (I won’t be posting this or sharing the published post on my social media as part of my writing stint— that would be a distraction.)
I write from minimal plans/outlines, and if I don’t have such a plan ready to go, I’ll work on that as part of the writing morning.
But the big deal is when I’m actually moving forward— adding new words to an initial draft. (I don’t call what I do after a draft ‘rewriting’ or ‘editing, I fix the stuff that needs fixing and then send the story out into the world.)
Word count or time served?
Many writers, influenced by Nanowrimo, use a word count to define their daily writing stint. I used to do it that way myself.
But then I read a few books on writing pulp-style fiction, which criticised the idea of padding out one’s fiction into long, bloated works (Game of Thrones, most of the Harry Potter series.) I thought word count goals might be rewarding myself for padding out, and punishing myself for writing to the point.
So my goal is in chunks of time instead. I’ll work for about an hour, get up, make coffee or tea, deal with a naughty cat, and then go back and do another hour. (I note down word counts in a little notebook, but I’m not defining the writing stint by that, as in, another 300 words and you are done for the day.)
Morning writing or evening writing?
I feel at my best when my writing stint is at the start of the day. Other people love to write in the evening— or even late at night when everyone else is in bed.
I have read about the writer Mercedes Lackey, that in the early stage of her writing career she had a demanding day job, and she did her writing after she got home from work.
Sometimes you have to do that— let the time of your writing stints be dictated by the other things in your life.
Timed writing sprints.
Especially if you feel you are having to write at the ‘wrong’ time, doing timed writing sprints may help you get into the swing of doing your actual writing work. Some authorities recommend short sprints of 5 or 8 minutes, and lengthening it into longer ones.
The best thing about a short sprint is that it doesn’t take much time. If you are setting your writing stint at a time you didn’t normally write in before, doing just a 5 minute sprint doesn’t feel like much. But it’s better than not writing at all.
If you get the the point where you feel you ‘have to’ write for two or three or four hours every time you sit down in your writing space, you may be stymied. There are only so many hours of the day, and you may not be able to carve out a block of time that long.
But you might be able to do short sprints, perhaps a few at different times of the day, or when you are waiting around being bored. Those lost minutes could add up to more writing work done.
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Murder in Fiction.

Fiction is different from real life— fictional life makes more sense. Everything that happens in fiction is part of a plot. Real life is just one thing after another.
Fictional murders, even in ‘gritty, realistic’ stories, tend to make more sense. In real life, a murder often seems motiveless or senseless, or the reason is crazy, like that serial killer who claimed he had to kill people to prevent an earthquake.
Fictional murders, like other fictional behaviors, have to be motivated. And in most fiction, that motivation has to be something an ordinary person might understand.
Murder mystery murders.
In conventional murder mysteries— the kind now tamed down and called ‘cozies,’ the murder at the center of the plot has a commonplace motive. Financial gain is very common, as it allows there to be a number of suspects, especially if the murder victim was wealthy and had a number of heirs.
Marital jealousy, a big motive in real murder, doesn’t work so well in a murder mystery since that motive points to one suspect usually. If that proves to be the motive of the ultimate killer, that factor must be hidden to make the killer’s identity a mystery.
Murder to prevent a revealing of secrets is also a possibility, especially if the author can frame the victim as someone who habitually ruined people by revealing their shameful secrets.
The suspect individuals in a mystery may have a variety of possible motives, rather than having them all after money or all protecting secrets. The main thing in the traditional murder mystery is that there must be a variety of suspects. No one can be standing over the dead victim with a knife in his hand— unless that someone is actually innocent and the real killer must be located.
Criminal enterprise murder.
In many types of adventurous fiction, the murders go back to a central criminal mastermind or Dark Lord.
The initial corpse can be a result of whatever the criminal enterprise normally kills people for— someone who didn’t go along with the gang’s extortion plot, a witness, a rival gang member, a young wizard whose magic powers might be stolen, whoever owns the McGuffin….
Afterwards, murders tend to be plot complications in the quest of the hero to stop the criminal villain. Witnesses that the hero wants to question might get murdered first. A friend or associate of the hero might get killed to intimidate the hero.
The more murdery your criminal enterprise villain or Dark Lord is, the more important it is for the hero to stop him. Also, the more corpses the hero encounters along the way, the more power the villain seems to have. Does it seem hopeless? It should. You want your hero to face an almost impossible challenge and win.
Incidental murders.
Every fictional life is precious. But some minor charaters must die or disappear as part of the plot, and sometimes murder is the cause.
It’s common to make fictional characters orphans, since that makes them more vulnerable. Sometimes that orphaning happens by means of a murder.
Murders in your character’s backstory can be just sad events, or perhaps your character will need to get justice/revenge for a murdered father. This need not be the central theme of the plot, however.
Sometimes an incidental murder might just be an obstacle to your hero’s actions. That one person with the important information is now dead so the hero must make other plans. At other times, the murder can point up dangers. If your hero goes to a dangerous city and the first person he speaks to ends up murdered by the end of the day, that illustrates the dangers of the city.
The hero kills.
In commercially viable or non-grimdark fiction, the hero can’t be a murderer. If the hero kills, it must be justified— defense of others or self-defense, ideally. Sometimes a bad guy just won’t surrender and must be killed to protect others.
In certain circumstances, the hero may do a ‘justice killing.’ In a remote region— in the pioneering West, or on a remote planet— there may be no realistic way to get a murderer to formal justice.
Also, in a dystopian totalitarian regime like the real-life regimes of Stalin, Mao or Hitler, a killer might be protected by the ‘judicial’ system because he is part of it. If the hero kills such a killer for righteous reasons, that will stop him from going on killing.
A fictional hero must have a very strong motivation to kill. Perhaps he lost a loved one, or has some strong emotional connection with the victim. He must have strong knowledge of the guilt of his target. In a dystopian regime, that killing judge has to be proved to be doing more killings than he needs to, rather than serving as a brake on a killing regime.
The big test of any murders you may commit in your fiction is, how well do readers accept it? Do they feel it is a tragic but necessary part of the plot, or are they mad at you, the author, for an unneeded killing? Reading should take your reader to an exciting adventure, not introduce interesting characters doomed to die so an author can earn his grimdark credentials.
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Fixing the alleged ‘Mary Sue’ Character.

A common writing worry is of writing an alleged ‘Mary Sue’ character. I personally don’t believe in the ‘Mary Sue,’ and I hate the trend of giving unpopular traits common women’s names (as in Karens.) This is not fair to those named Mary or Susan or Karen.
But if you have gotten feedback that calls your favorite character a Mary Sue and you want to fix any problem with that character and his plot, here are some steps.
  1. Ask for more details. Why did that feedback-giver or beta reader call the character a Mary Sue? If it was because the character was described as popular, making the character less handsome and a bit pudgy won’t fix the problem.
  2. Check your story’s villain. Is he stronger than your alleged Mary Sue? Does he present a real challenge to the character? The villain must seem almost unbeatable for your plot to seem like a challenge to the character.
  3. Make a list of your alleged Mary Sue’s traits. Underline any which seem very un-Mary-Sue like. Did you actually mention these things in the story? Should you show them a bit more?
  4. More action. If your beta reader has time to slow down and call your character a Mary Sue, maybe the pace of your story is slacking. Bring in a man with a blaster or a sword, or even a gun. Get your character fired or evicted.
  5. Swat your alleged Mary Sue with more trouble. He may need more of a challege.
  6. If your character is Superman, invent Kryptonite. In author Declan Finn’s Saint Tommy series, Tommy Nolan is blessed with special spiritual gifts (like bilocation) but these gifts seem to attract loads of scary demon-possessed bad guys, so Tommy Nolan is very well challenged.
  7. Believe in yourself and your character. Just because someone said the Mary Sue word about one of your characters doesn’t make that criticism true. You are free to write the story you want with the characters you want. You may find that while some people call your character a Mary Sue, others find that character to be a favorite.
  8. Write a short story featuring your character. Post it on Wattpad, Inkitt or a blog. If you can get some feedback from multiple sources on this character in the setting of a short story, you might be able to make any needed improvements of that character for a longer work.
Talk about characters as ‘Mary Sues’ is common among neophyte writers, but that doesn’t mean it’s something a serious neophyte writer should be worrying about. If your character has a proper level of challenges to cope with, and fails before he succeeds, chances are your character will not have one of the shortcomings of the ‘Mary Sue’ type of character.
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Stuck on Wattpad

As readers of this blog might know, I am currently limited in my writing capabilities by my lack of access to technology, caused by the poverty of being on SSI disability.
I’m currently writing some short stories using the Lester Dent formula as a guide. But I can’t submit the completed stories to anthologies or gather them into a collection and self-publish. The only thing I can think of to do with the stories is publish them online at Wattpad.
Wattpad isn’t a friendly environment for people like me. Most of the users seem to be teenage children writing what they describe as ‘smut.’ I worry— in what way is ‘smut’ written by the underaged, with underage characters, not kiddy porn?
They actively promote ‘pride month,’ but allow hostility towards Christian authors because Christian fiction should include more Islam.
So you can believe that every story segment I post on Wattpad was written on Evernote first, so if Wattpad chooses to take anything of mine down I have a copy.
The first completed short story of my short story ‘binge’ is called ‘Banned Books, Banned Girl.’ It’s a near-future story, set in a country which has lost its democratic freedom. Main character is a girl with Asperger Syndrome, threatened with government ‘mercy’ for being defective, who has escaped government control and survives as a ‘ghost worker.’ Her job includes pullin newly banned books off the shelves of a bookstore.
I wrote the story because I believe in free speech. I don’t like it when people get censored or deplatformed because some one thinks they are expressing an opinion not on the approved list. I was appalled to learn there are some Christians who approve of the censorship on Facebook, to the point they won’t say punishing someone for quoting the ‘wrong’ Bible verse is censorship. But if we don’t stand up for our own freedoms, we can’t complain if we lose them.
I don’t know what good writing my little stories will do, especially if it is so hard to get them out into the world where people can read them. But stories are my thing, see?
The Lester Dent formula for writing a pulp fiction short story can be found online— that’s where I found it. It’s also mentioned in some of the available books on how to write pulp-slyle fiction. It can help in creating whatever level of outline you need to write a short story.

How Grimdark killed the Reading Habit

People don’t read anymore— I read that recently in two different books so it has to be true. 😉
Seriously, there is evidence that reading, as a way to be entertained, was a much bigger thing back in the heyday of pulp magazines (1920s and 1930s.)
People, even people who dropped out of school in seventh grade to work full time, bought the many different pulp magazines available at ‘any newsstand’ for a few cents.
By the time I came along, when you wanted to read Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, as my mother did, you had to subscribe to it— which she did in spite of the fact that when the magazine came she often didn’t get to read it until I finished.
People don’t seem to be like that now. In my county, people used to be able to shop for books at the new bookstore in the next county, or else the used bookstore, also in the next county. Now there are no bookstores in the next county, and I don’t know how far I’d have to drive to get to a bookstore. Farther than I can actually get these days.
I have read that a lot of people never pick up another book once they leave school. Which to me is shocking. The only other place to get your stories is from TV and movies which have increasingly lost the ability to appeal to anyone.
Why is there so much non-reading these days? I think a lot of it is because of the schools. Schools have been convinced that the only things worth reading are things that are painful to read— full of grimness and deaths and ‘heroes’ with less of a moral compass than the story’s villains.
I remember one story I had to read in high school, called ‘The Cold Equations.’ The story had two major characters– a space pilot going about his duty, and a girl stowaway on his ship. Being a naive reader, I thought the girl stowaway was more interesting so identified with her. It wasn’t until I re-read the story years later that I realized it was a story about the pilot. All I remember about my initial reading was the shock as I came to realize that the girl stowaway I thought of as the main character was probably about to be killed by being put out the airlock into space.

(Update: the author of The Cold Equations is Tom Godwin.)

Now, this story was not grimdark as we have it today. The pilot tried to work out a way to save the girl, but his mission was to deliver medical supplies to a plague-stricken outpost, and he had limited fuel. Saving the girl would condemn multiple people to death.
But this was a story chosen for a bunch of high school kids to read. We had to, as part of our classwork. It was a painful story, because an innocent character died. I have since wondered if most of the girls in that class had the same shock as I did, from identifying with that doomed character.
Now, this story is not true grimdark. The girl meant no harm, and the pilot had no way to save her, because his mission was to save more than one person and he just didn’t have extra fuel. In a grimdark story, the pilot wouldn’t have had altruistic reasons to kill the girl, and she would have proved to be a villain anyway.
But it was a painful story for high school kids to read anyway. The school authorities must have been convinced that a story with the death of an innocent character was somehow medicinal for us. Instead, it showed us all reading could be painful. Back in those days, deaths of major characters were not a big part of television shows, except for Dark Shadows, where the dead characters came back as vampires or ghosts.
This tendency seems to have gotten worse. Painful reading in schools continues to be the norm, and many schools are ever less responsive to the objection of parents.
Publishing also has gone full grimdark. Instead of fictional heroes that are good guys, we have Dexter, the serial killer who kills other serial killers. I love Dexter and all, but a guy who enjoys cutting other people up while they are still alive has a major-league character flaw.
Traditional publishers seem to think that what people want is fiction without heroes and without a moral compass, but with grim didactic sections about global warming, gender identity, and why ‘white’ people should just die.
Most normal, emotionally healthy people don’t need that kind of grimdark in our lives. We have too much of that in reality. We want to escape into books that will take us on a grand adventure and leave us feeling uplifted instead of hopeless. If the books trad-publishing wants to put out won’t do that, potential readers will look elsewhere.
It is authors of written fiction who have the chance to change this trend. You can’t, from your own home without large sums of money and large numbers of co-creators, make a non-grimdark television series or major motion picture. But you can write a short story or a novel and self-publish it. If you keep on writing, and develop your skills, you can find an audience of people who are still willing to take a chance on a book.
Have you experienced grimdark or painful fiction in your schooling? Have you ever had a hard time finding fiction that bucks this trend, fiction that is actually fun to read?

Here is a link to a short story of mine, Banned Books, Banned Girl.