Why I Write Christian Fiction by Carol Cox
Why do I write Christian fiction? First, let me say that I don’t see myself as a writer of Christian fiction as much as a follower of Christ who happens to write fiction. That may sound like a fine distinction, but it makes a difference in the way I look at my writing.
Maybe it would be a good idea to define terms so we’re all on the same page. I can’t think of a better definition of the genre than the one developed by the founders of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction. Since the entire statement is rather lengthy, let’s just look at a few of the points that apply to this discussion.
Christian fiction is a category of stories written by novelists whose Christian world view is woven into the fabric of the plot and character development.
As writers, our worldview will always be reflected in our work, no matter what our background or belief system. It’s a natural outpouring of who we are, the way we think, and what we believe.
I am a Christian who believes in God’s grace and His redemptive love for humanity. Because that belief is so much a part of me, those themes permeate the books I write—not as a means of bashing readers over the head with some sort of “truth hammer,” but as a natural outpouring of who I am.
Although this definition might seem either simplistic on the one hand or overly broad on the other, this grouping of novels is as comprehensive and as varied in age, interest, and spiritual depth as its readership.
Some people have a tendency to lump all Christian fiction—and Christian writers—together, but the sub-genres that come under the heading of Christian fiction are as widely varied as the authors themselves. And that’s the way it should be.
The Bible talks about the Body of Christ being made up of many parts, each with its own gifts and purpose. The same applies to Christian authors, each one following the writing path he or she is led to. Some books tackle gritty issues head-on, while others (like mine) tend to be lighter reads that also carry a message of truth. There’s no one-size-fits-all mold that we have to try to wedge ourselves into, and I’m grateful for that. I don’t have to try to be someone I’m not. My responsibility is simply to be faithful to do the best with the gifts I’ve been given.
Let’s look at another snippet from that definition:
Good fiction, whether or not it is identified as Christian, will provide a memorable reading experience that captures the imagination, inspires, challenges, and educates.
That sums up what I hope to create: good fiction. My books aren’t intended as sermons or thinly-veiled tracts. Frankly, I’m turned off by stories written with an agenda at the expense of a good story, no matter who the author is. No one—including me—likes to be manipulated.
I don’t sit down to write a book with the thought that it may change a life. Transforming people’s lives is the Lord’s job, not mine. My job is to write the best story I can, and leave the results to Him. He’s the one who knows the needs of the people who will read that book and which words will meet those needs far better than I ever could.
The final part of the definition that I’ll share with you contains this wisdom:
Because the essence of Christianity is a relationship with God, a Christian novelists’ well-conceived story will in some way, whether directly or indirectly, add insight to the reader’s understanding of life, of faith, of the Creator’s yearning over His creation.
What a challenge! There are so many stories yet to be told, each one of them an avenue that can be used to explore yet another facet of God’s timeless truths. That’s enough to keep me honing my writing skills for a lifetime.
Carol Cox: “As a third-generation Arizonan, I have a special love for the Southwest and its history. Life in the Old West was never easy, but the American Frontier had a way of drawing people who were resilient, who met adversity with a quiet inner strength and a reliance on God’s provision. From the deserts to the canyons to the towering pine forests, the history of my home state is filled with tales of characters whose courage and tenacity helped shape this part of the country.”
Note From Nikki: Yesterday, I featured a few links that critically discuss Christian fiction. Today is the last day of, “Christian Fiction: Is It Effective?” Send me an email and tell me what you thought of the posts. To read more about this series and to catch up on the posts click here.