{Note: This post is purely my opinions and feelings. Please do not feel like I’m telling you how you should act or feel. I only want to provide a window into my thoughts/feelings about writing… and my personal philosophy}

Almost every time I read a “Christian” fiction novel, I come away angry. Disappointed and angry. And I’m a Christian. I hate having my own faith jammed down my throat in a disgusting, cheesy, and unrealistic way. And usually, it doesn’t even have a good story. It suffers from Agenda Syndrome.

Agenda Syndrome (my term, every reader’s problem) is when an author goes “I want to address X-Y-Z issue. Let me see, now I need to work something like a plot around it so that readers will swallow it.”. It’s like sugar coating a pill. Writing should never start with an agenda and have the story come later. Start with the story and let the themes (distinction from agenda) reveal themselves as you go.

Too often, Christian writers go “I want to share my faith! I want to use my writing to tell the world about Jesus!”. I’m here to tell you, if you’re going to do that, don’t write “Christian” fiction. The only people reading that will be people just like you. Or people like me, who share the same faith but get mad at you for how you’re handling it, making my very serious belief look like Veggie Tales (don’t get me STARTED!).

If I want to read self-help books about living out my faith and such, I’ll turn to the Self-Help section. I’ll read non-fiction about it. Not some soupy preachy Christian novel that I wouldn’t even want to read in first grade Sunday School.

Here is what I want to do with my writing:

I want to reach people. I want them to connect with my characters. To share their struggles and feel their pain. To see through my writing that THEY ARE NOT ALONE. I want them to feel empowered by my stories, to feel like they are stronger and their struggles are not for nothing. That they can rise above their past, everything that’s holding them down, and be more.

I want to show them hope.

Hope is the power that drives our fight. If we lose hope, we lie down and quit, giving up and surrendering to the opposing forces in our life. Hope is the light that draws us forward, helps us stand, and keeps us truly alive.

I want to show them freedom from their chains.

I don’t need to shove the gospel in their face. I don’t believe this is effective or even fair. If they ask, I will be right there, ready to explain what I believe and show them the way and answer their every question. But to Thunder Cake them in their fiction? Like tricking little kids to eat vegetables by sneaking it into their dessert? That seems just deceitful to me.

My worldview will come through in my writing; such is to be expected. But I don’t need to stand up on a podium and jam it down their throats. I don’t need to say, “okay, kids, eat your peas”.

The last thing I want is the world looking at Jesus and my faith like cough medicine or Brussels sprouts.

Veronique from Attempting Authenticity says this about her fantasy-writing philosophy, and I couldn’t agree more or put it better:

And here’s the thing. I don’t want to write “Christian” fantasy. And I don’t feel guilty about that. To me, fantasy = a physical portrayal of a very real mental, emotional, and spiritual battle. Every human struggle is an epic battle. Every mental, emotional, and spiritual victory is an epic victory. I can’t literally chop off depression’s head with a sword, but I can write about it in a way that anyone can relate to it and feel victory over something, and feel inspired to actually have victory over things they struggle with…

That’s what I want to do. I want people to come away from reading my books feeling victorious. Thinking, “I can do this. I can beat this. I am stronger than this. I am chosen to do this because I am the only one who can fight my own battles inside myself. There is a greater good force with power over this thing.” {hint: it’s God, but if you don’t believe in Him, give it time}

That’s proper fantasy to me. That’s epic, beautiful, profound, pure, lovely, mouth watering fantasy. And that’s what I want to write. I’m not trying to be Tolkien. I’m trying to be the best fantasy writer that I have the capacity to be. I have a vision of what I’m working towards, and I know I’ll get there.

My writing “philosophy of war”:

Share truth

Portray real struggles

Tell powerful stories

Create connectable characters

Reach people’s hearts

Show pain, but show the healing too

Depict strong, real relationships

Inspire

Hold out hope to the world

Tell of freedom from things that hold you back

Believe in the impossible

Empower readers

And in the end…

Be real.

I want to tell real things in real ways that are effective and powerful in real life. I don’t want to spout a string of platitudes that don’t really mean anything. I don’t want to write stories that make people walk away angry. I want to write stories that make them walk away full. Stories that make them think, make them laugh and cry, make them ask questions and search for answers. Stories that make them feel alive, vibrant and empowered, stories that make them feel victorious. Stories that tell them the truth that “you can do this too! You can slay that dragon in your life. You can defeat the grip your past has on you. You can find your place in life where you truly belong. You can find the answer to life’s most burning question.”

I want to tell them the story of life.

~ Kat

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