I didn’t start out writing Christian fiction. I actually didn’t even know Christian fiction was a whole genre until 2017 or 2018, when I actively sought out Christian books to read during a difficult time in my life.
Years before I discovered Christian fiction, I got my master’s degree in creative writing. As part of that, I wrote a novel. I didn’t even know how to classify it back then, which is probably why I wasn’t successful in finding an agent or a publisher for it at the time. 🤷♀️ Now, I’d probably call it women’s fiction, although it was a little darker than most of what’s on the market these days.
Anyway, after I started reading Christian fiction, I got the itch to start writing again. And what I wanted to write had changed in the fifteen years since I’d written that first book. I loved the sweetness of the romance in CCR, and because my own spiritual journey is important to me, writing about a character’s spiritual growth really appealed to me.
As an unpublished author, a lot of things scared me about writing in this new-to-me genre, but I believed in my little book and soon found an agent who believed in it, too. She sent it to an editor at Love Inspired who liked it, although she requested A LOT of changes.
One of the things I had to work on as I rewrote the story was striking the right balance with the faith element in the book. I never, ever want a book to come off as “preachy,” but I do want my characters to grow in their relationship with God. I want them to pray, but I don’t want those prayers to overwhelm the plot or sound unnatural to readers who are coming from a wide variety of different churches and denominations. I want them to refer to Biblical truths, but I don’t want to devote entire paragraphs or pages to lines of scripture.
Sometimes even choosing a verse that a character refers to or thinks about in a story is fraught for me. I’m not a pastor or a Biblical scholar, I’ll tell myself. What if the way I’m interpreting this verse is wrong?
I do spend time researching the pieces of scripture that end up in my books to make sure that I’m not wildly off base in how my characters are thinking about them, but for me, it’s still one of the scariest parts of writing CCR.
And those little seeds of doubt about whether or not I’m including the right verses can sometimes morph into bigger bouts of distrust in my ability to write Christian fiction.
The biggest one?
What if I’m not “Christian enough” to be writing this novel?
When that insecurity pops up, I know that I need to ask God for help and trust that He wouldn’t have given me the desire to write these stories if I couldn’t do it in a way that brings Him glory.
Do you like it when authors include prayers and Bible verses in CCR? How much is too much for you? What would make you call a book “too preachy”?