Christian fiction needs new creative storylines

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Published in the February 8, 2017 issue of The Bells

I am getting tired of reading Christian fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Christians are able to find books that don’t have expletives, bedroom scenes, drinking and vampires, but Christian fiction lacks variety compared to secular novels.
A quick search on www.familychristian.com shows that in the top 20 best-selling Christian fiction books, only five of them were not historical or Amish romances.

Being an avid reader, I’ve read many books. And the Christian fiction industry has become predictable.
Every time I pick up a book of fiction, I know that it’s going to have a girl (usually Amish) who is looking for the perfect husband or just happens to meet the perfect husband. Either the female or the male is not saved, which causes problems for the couple.
Despite these obstacles, the couple continues to fall in love. Along the way, the unsaved one finds God and they live happily ever after. This is the Christian fiction plot in a nutshell.
I love a good romance, but when 80 percent of the Christian fiction industry has this same non-realistic plot, it gets redundant.
To be perfectly honest, only a handful of Christian writers are able to pull this plot off. The rest of them come off sounding forced and cheesy with little literary merit.

I’m not expecting a Pulitzer prize-winning novel each time, but it would be nice to read a Christian fiction novel that has a little more depth than they do now.
I want books that don’t stop at the wedding. As Christians, we struggle, and getting married isn’t going to stop the struggling.
I think these books set up high expectations for future husbands that they may never be able to fulfill.
I am thankful for writers such as Terri Blackstock, Frank Peretti, Francine Rivers, Ted Dekker, and Dee Henderson who haven’t succumbed to writing “bonnet fiction”- a term equated with the highly popular Amish books taking the Christian fiction genre by storm.
Why don’t we have more writers like Blackstock who explore the dangers of social media in books like Predator? Or writers who write about the spiritual warfare that happens every single day like in Peretti’s This Present Darkness? Or writers who write about the backlash a rape victim receives when deciding to follow through with a related pregnancy like in Rivers’ The Atonement Child?

I own a shelf full of Christian romances at home, so I am in no way saying that I want them gone.
I just want Christian writers to target real issues occasionally instead of always going back to the girl-meets-boy-lets-live-happily-ever-after-after-you-get-saved type of novels. Romance is good, but not when it constantly dominates the plot.
Christian fiction is a wonderful genre, but please Christian writers, give us some more variety.

Author: Lauren Lum

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