Bad Novel Ideas for New/Young Christian Authors


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Can you spot the kitten sleeping in this boot?

When you are young and/or new to writing, you may go through a phase where you are not sure what kind of writing ideas to have. Some of the early ideas are sure to be bad ones.

If you are also some sort of Christian, you may feel you need to write ‘Christian fiction,’ whether you have ever read ‘Christian fiction’ or not. One problem with that is that most of us think of Evangelical Christian fiction when we hear the words ‘Christian fiction.’ If you are Catholic or LDS or even a non-evangelical Protestant, Evangelical-style fiction likely won’t be right for you.

The common bad writing ideas will trip writers up no matter their denomination. They are ideas lots of Christian writers have that few Christian readers will buy. Since many naive Christian writers self-publish these novels anyway, you will have much competition for a tiny share of readers.

Retold Bible Stories – Have you ever met someone who was just dying to read the story of King David from his favorite goat’s perspective? Or the life history of Hosea’s wife? Maybe if you are a noted Biblical scholar whose Bible commentaries are traditionally published and well-known, you could do this without boring or offending all potential readers. For the rest of us, we need a better idea.

Allegories – The famous book ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ is a Protestant allegory about the Christian life. I read it when I was a Protestant, and liked it. But that didn’t mean I was raiding the bookstores for more allegories to read! The Narnia series contains allegory, but also has a lot of content that isn’t direct allegory. But even this less-allegorical type isn’t an easy sell to Christian publishers or readers. If your planned story has a Jesus-character in it, like Aslan, perhaps you should think again.

Conflict-free Historicals – Prairie romance and Amish romance are popular escapist forms of Christian fiction. Many Christian readers want to escape from their current woes where they get mocked at work for being a Christian. But Amish and prairie stories have to be realistic enough to show real conflicts. Conflict is the life blood of fiction. Even escapist fiction.

The best thing the would-be Christian novelist can do is read within the genre. Find out what books are selling well, and read them. If you are not Evangelical, look for authors from your own faith background and read their books. If you can’t find any sort of Christian fiction that you like and that inspires you with writing ideas, maybe you should consider secular fiction. There ARE Christians who write for the secular market, like Dean Koontz. That might be what you are called to do.

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Bad Novel Ideas for New/Young Christian Authors

  1. I found this through post through Facebook. I completely agree with you. You should be aware of what readers who pick up books in the Christian market are expecting. Otherwise, you’ll piss off a lot of people. If the story is more secular, it should go into the secular market. By the way, I had no idea Dean Koontz was a Christian. That’s so cool to find out!

  2. I am probably garbling this quote attributed to Flannery O’Connor: “To write a Catholic novel, it is not necessary to be a Catholic or even a Christian. It is, unfortunately, necessary to be a novelist.”

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