Good morning! Coffee Time with Kara is a new, weekly feature here on the blog where I–Kara Leigh Miller, Editorial Director for Anaiah press–will share tips, tricks, and secrets about writing, querying, publishing, and everything in between. So, grab your cup of coffee and get comfy…
As a Christian publisher, we get a lot of submissions that don’t qualify as Christian fiction, so I thought I’d take some time today to discuss exactly what does and doesn’t constitute Christian fiction. Before I dive into the details, though, let me preface this by saying every agent and publisher has different guidelines (tired of hearing me say that, yet? 😉 ) so everything I’m outlining here pertains to Anaiah specifically. As always, be sure to check guidelines before submitting.
So, what is Christian fiction?
In the broadest sense of the definition, Christian fiction is a genre of fiction that illustrates a positive Christian worldview via its characters and/or plot.
Does Christian fiction (CF) require the plot and/or characters to suffer from a crisis of faith?
No. While that certainly adds an element of conflict to the story, it’s not required. If your characters are Christians and behave accordingly (following the teachings of the Bible, praying, attending church, etc.), and those characters rely on their faith to deal with whatever obstacles are thrown in their way, that is enough to qualify as Christian fiction.
My characters don’t pray or go to church, but they say “Oh, God” a lot. Does that make is CF?
No. Exclaiming “oh, God” in the heat of a moment doesn’t make a character or a story CF. In fact, that could be considered taking the Lord’s name in vain by some people.
What about angels? Or a demon? My book has angels and demons in it. That’s surely CF, right?
Not necessarily. If the angel and demons are there as part of a good vs. evil plot–wherein good wins–and the characters use their faith to overcome said evil, then yes, it would be CF. But if the angel / demon is there as a romantic plot, then for Anaiah, that’s a hard no.
Do my characters have to be squeaky clean, or are they allowed to sin?
We are all only human. We all sin. And so we expect our fictional characters to sin as well. The key to making it work within CF is to ensure the characters learn from the error of their ways, seek forgiveness from God, and move on to live a better life.
Okay, what if my character starts the story without any faith but finds it along the way and by the end, s/he has come to Christ?
YES! We love stories like that. Following a character on their path to Christ is often very powerful and will speak to a lot of readers.
Is there a place in CF for books with gun fights and murder and other types of violence?
Yes, within certain limitations. For anyone who’s read the entire Left Behind Series, you know that as the books progress, they become increasingly darker and more violent. But it works because it’s true to the plot–there’s a purpose behind every act of violence. A good rule of thumb is that as long as the violence isn’t gratuitous, it’s okay.
While I’ve only just scratched the surface in terms of what is and isn’t CF, this is a good starting point to determine if your book fits within the Christian market. And if you’re unsure, seek out a beta reader or critique partner or freelance editor who is well-versed in CF to help you figure out where your book belongs.
Be sure to come back next Monday when I’ll be giving tips for self-editing your book before submitting to agents and/or editors. In the meantime, if you have any questions or have a topic you want me to address, leave it in the comments.
Keep on writing 🙂