As a lover and follower of Jesus, I know that my gift of writing (along with the desire to write) is from Him. Thus, I want to use my gifts for the furtherance of His Kingdom. Oh, to publish a book that might bring someone to salvation or encourage them in their walk with God! It doesn't matter if it won't be as popular as secular books - living for Jesus is far more satisfactory than living for this world.
The only problem is, my favorite writing genre of all time is fantasy, with science fiction, especially dystopian, in second (scratch the space ships and aliens... that's not what I mean). But the problem with that is: how do I openly demonstrate Jesus' love in either one? The answer is, I can't. At least not without a certain amount of difficulty. Sure, I can always turn to weaving subtle meanings into certain phrases or sentences, but what I'm looking for is a way not to be subtle, and yet to stick to the genres I love.
The obvious non-subtle ways would be 1) a fantastical analogy, and 2) realistic fiction. As you are about to see, there is an advantage and a disadvantage to each one.
Advantage: Fantasy is my absolute favorite! I love its magical, unrealistic sparkle, the way it takes you far away from the real world, and to someplace equally - or even more - messed up... but where there are so many more possibilities. Reality is just plain boring compared to the liveliness of a fantasy world. And to think! With an analogy, not only am I caught up in the genre I love, but also in the love of Jesus! That's a two for one!
Disadvantage: Hard, hard, hard. Ever heard of The Chronicles of Narnia? Yeah, thought so. This well-known series was so popular as to be accepted by Hollywood for film adaptation, and the author's name, C.S. Lewis, is familiar to everyone. But really, all he did was sit down, think about God and His love and the beauty of salvation, and come up with a super cool picture of Christianity. Simple, right? Not. At. All. Never has the saying "easier said than done" been more relevant. What would be especially challenging would be finding something original. I know I can borrow ideas from C.S. Lewis' amazing series, but I worry that I'll borrow too much and plagiarize - or something close to it. An analogy would definitely require careful planning and a deep plunge into the imagination, but with the Lord's help and my own determination, I hope that someday I manage to come up with the fictional analogy of the century! (Or at least just a good one)
Advantage: The plot is easy-peasy. I already know what it would be - vaguely, yes, but still. I literally came up with it in less than five minutes. You see, thinking about all the Christian YA realistic fiction novels I have read, which is a surprisingly small number (the specific genre has been a huge disappointment to me), led me very quickly to what I would want to do with realistic fiction. Our options today are pretty much all romances, and it pains me to put it in words, but some YA Christian romances are right on the edge of "inappropriate." One good example is Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK by Betsy St. Amant. Her illustration of what high school is like these days is great, but we kind of already know how terrible it is, so it's not like we need any more elaboration. I know the book has an underlying and overall Christian message that's fairly clear, and the main character goes through things that other teenage girls can relate to. Bravo! But some of the stuff in it seemed way too emphasized, making me feel like I shouldn't be reading it. So I stopped.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Did I just see myself write that? Christian books aren't supposed to make me feel like I shouldn't read it! Christian books are supposed to be a way to take a break from the stuff that makes me feel like I shouldn't read it! It may be that Addison Blakely is geared toward the older teens, which might be the problem. But really, if it's not good for younger teens like thirteen or fourteen, how good is it? In this case, at least?
One of my favorite quotes is from C.S. Lewis himself: "If they won't write the kind of books we like to read we shall have to write them ourselves." Amen to that. What I would really want to read is something Christian and yet not romance. At least, not the romance you're thinking. I mean, what about the relationship that makes something fall under the label "Christian" in the first place? The relationship between a person and God? Is there seriously no book out there that is all about how God reveals Himself to a hurting, brokenhearted person, and how that person begins to realize what they need, and then they are born again into His family, and out of it all springs an everlasting bond of love between the two? Like, without any guy or girl coming on the scene to totally veer the plot off-course, from where the true romance lies? I would LOVE to read a book like that, and if you know of such a novel, I beg you to tell me in the comments!
But anyway, back to the C.S. Lewis quote. Since I want to read it so badly, and yet can't find much of anything like it, the solution is simple. I should write it myself. And that's where the advantage lies. It's so un-cliché, so perfect. And I already know the general plot. Simple and easy.
Disadvantage: Okay, so the disadvantage to this is pretty small. Whenever I've tried to write realistic fiction, I've given up. It bores me. I need my fantasy, people! My novel-in-progress is fantasy, after all, and I've not given up! Yay! The worry is that I might bore myself with this realistic fiction idea, no matter how fabulous it may seem right now, as I enthusiastically update this post. But hopefully it'll stay fabulous, and I won't have a problem with boredom. In fact, I'm more than hopeful. I'm pretty certain.
To wrap up this way-too-long-but-extremely-fun-and-satisfactory (to me) post, I would like to encourage Christian authors and writers everywhere to kill the cliché of faith-based romance and come up with something different. There are plenty other ways to weave your faith into your books, and frankly, filling the pages with romance can very easily do the opposite of turn others to Jesus. Take the time to plan a fresh analogy or think of something completely original. I believe in you.