A Seven-Step Process to Solve Moral Quandaries in Christian Storytelling

When I was younger, I wrote without any intention of showing my stories to anyone outside of my immediate family (and sometimes not even them). The stories were for my enjoyment only, since I was tired of borrowing books from the library that I would have to set down because of bad content.

A_Seven-Step_Process_to_Solve_Moral_QuandariesThen one day I discovered the power of storytelling. Without my knowledge, my grandma loaned the book I’d written to a friend who was an English teacher. Later she told me what she had done, and the feedback I received from the teacher was positive and incredibly motivating. I decided I wanted to share my stories with an audience larger than my relative fan club, so I began to explore how I should approach writing as a Christian. In doing so, I encountered more and more questions concerning acceptable vs. unacceptable content until the list became daunting and seemingly endless. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Rolena Hatfield
Rolena is a country loving girl who wears cowgirl boots and has dreamed of being Cinderella since she was four. She has an explosive imagination that leads her on crazy adventures in other worlds, yet she somehow always ends up back at her desk with a pencil and cup of coffee in hand. Beside writing at late night hours and devouring books, she has a tremendous love of music and musical theater. She blames them both for not being able to stay off a stage since age eleven, becoming a vocal teacher and now directing dramas. Her favorite places to be are up in her library (yes, she has a special room in her house just for books), outside for a romp or any place with people. On her shelf of favorite books you’ll find The False Prince, Once on This Island, Princess Academy and Bella at Midnight. Her favorite thing to do is laugh. Though she has tried to stop writing, she’s never been able too and has no intentions of doing so in the near future. Or ever for that matter.

http://daughteroftreasure.wixsite.com/daughteroftreasure.

Blurring the Lines Between Light and Darkness

By Melody Faith

Writing or reading a dark book can be a very debatable topic for Christians. How dark is too dark? How much gore is too much? It has gone back and forth for years.

Recently, I read an interview with Ted Dekker discussing the darkness in his writing. He explains why he feels the need for it. He wants a distinct difference between good and evil in his stories. He wants readers to look at evil and be repulsed by it while they look at good and see the beauty in it. I found this to be a masterful way of describing how to handle darkness in Christian stories. blurringpinterest

Today’s media and pop culture really likes to blur the lines.

Disney’s 2014 retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, Maleficent, is an interesting example. The story portrays Maleficent as the protagonist, while King Stefan as the villain. I personally found it to be very confusing and down-right disturbing. I struggled to find a character to like, pity, or care about. I really despised all of them, even though I knew they wanted us to love Maleficent. I had a hard time pitying her. She was evil. She chose to be evil and did wicked things. None of this was addressed as wrong; you were simply pressed to pity her.

Another example for this is Tim Burton’s 1993 Nightmare Before Christmas. While I adored the music and the simple story, I was disturbed by the twisted worldview. It portrays Halloween characters, who in themselves are not evil. They simply do their job every October 30th. But for some odd reason, no one likes the Boogie man. He is bad, and they mean really bad. It struck me as so odd. Who was to say he was worse than Jack? Where was the line? Jack the Pumpkin King was the one you cared about and loved, even though he was in fact a skeleton and the King of Halloween. But the Boogie man, though he was like any other evil Halloween character, was still the evil villain. Our hero and villain were both evil characters. A cute, creative story, but a twisted perspective.
[Read more…]

The Wince Factor

By Hannah Krynicki

Have you ever experienced the Wince Factor?

It goes like this: One evening you are enjoying a new “family” movie with younger friends or siblings, chuckling at the jokes and sobbing at the tragic moments (and, as a writer, probably analyzing every element of the story). All at once, a jarring image flashes before you and the younger children. Mortified, you snatch the controller, but it’s too late. The kids around you have already witnessed that gratuitous bit of evil, and as the oldest person present, you feel responsible. For the next week, you shudder every time you think of it. I call this infamous image “the Wince Factor.” wincepinterest

Now here is a pretty puzzle: not all Wince Factors are bad. You’ve seen the good ones. A well-placed Wince Factor can bring a sense of credibility to your story and keep your readers on the edge, wondering just how the characters will deal with this. The bad Wince Factors, however, have the biggest reputation. Most are so dreadful because the guardians, especially parents, are trusted with the job of protecting young hearts. When the bad Wince Factors turn up, they feel as if they have failed.

Director Peter Jackson once joked that while working out fantasy action sequences, “You actually turn into a psychopath.” That’s probably the great fear of every Christian writer. No one wants to be remembered as the psychopath who wrote junky gore and wrapped it up with a bow labeled “Young Adult.” All of us must come to grips and to terms with  questions about darkness and gore.

How much is too much? Should I use the Wince Factor or not? [Read more…]

Dark Christian Fiction: A Contradiction in Terms?

When you pick up a work of fiction at your local Christian bookstore, you can probably expect a couple different things in it.  You can expect it to center around Christian characters that run into some kind of a problem.   You can expect there to be either a really nice atheist or a really mean atheist who ends up converting by the book’s end.  You can expect the main conflict in the book to be challenging—but not overly so, because by the book’s end, everything will need to wrap up in a happy ending.

And it’s because of this that some of you may be doing a double-take upon reading the term: “dark Christian fiction.”  Is Christian fiction really allowed to be dark?  Doesn’t writing for the Kingdom and shining Light in our fiction mean that we want to avoid writing fiction that’s going to be really dark?darkchrisitianfictionpinterest

There can be some fair cautions that should be taking when portraying darkness in fiction that I’m going to address later on in this article.  But what I want to argue in this article is simply this: Darkness must not be excluded from Christian fiction.  We can have a lively discussion how darkness should best be portrayed and how much of it should be shown.  But a refusal to accept dark tones in fiction is problematic.  And because of this, dark Christian fiction is therefore not a contradiction in terms but one that we ought to accept not only as a valid category, but also a necessary category in the world of Christian fiction.

Darkness in Christian Literature

Let’s go back to the hypothetical bookstore that you’re perusing.  You pick up a random book off the shelf, read a couple pages, and soon discover that the book is about a man who was unjustly imprisoned for twenty years and who, upon being freed, proceeds throughout the rest of the book to take revenge on everyone who had wronged him.

Perhaps a bit shocked, you put the book down and pick up another, hoping for something better.  But in this book, the main character is a college-dropout without a real job who within the first several chapters ends up murdering his landlady with an axe for a variety of reasons and as the book progresses, goes on to fall in love with a prostitute.

Both of these books would perhaps be tough sells to make in today’s Christian market.  [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here as he works toward achieving these goals.