Christian authors writing secular fiction

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Phillip, Apr 7, 2006.

  1. Phillip

    Phillip
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    I'm just wondering what each of you think about authors that are Christians (or claim to be) and use mild cursing in their text to keep it realistic with the characters that are speaking. I don't mean books with lots of really bad language or using the Lord's name in vain, but minor curse words at certain locations. Somewhat like John Grisham.

    Thoughts and discussion?
     
  2. Gina B

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    That, my friend, is a great question.

    I've done so a number of times, and later revised my work. Rarely was it very difficult to do, it just took a little more thought to get across the exact emotion I wanted to convey, but a good author can do that.
    There were a couple times that a minor word just really put the punch in there that I needed, and I could find no substitute. However, as a matter of conscience, I removed them. I personally wasn't comfortable with it.
    If another person who claimed to be Christian were to write fiction that contained curse words, I'd be disappointed when I read the text.

    It can be very tough though.

    I wrote a piece of short fiction a few months ago that had no curse words at all, and I had a number of people that just thought it was great, it was powerful, and worthy of being submitted for publishing.
    I decided I couldn't do it because of the content. It was a violent story.It may have been jaw-dropping and kept people glued from the start, but my conscious bothered me. It still bothers me to have written it and just dropped it, I'd never attempted fiction before and that was my baby, wrote it in a fit of creativity quickly, and the only mistake was messing up one name...
    SEE? I can't even shut up about it.
    It's hard to let it go. It would be like finishing a popular painting, or planting a beautiful garden, or cooking a five course meal, and having to destroy it.

    It isn't fun. But right is right and wrong is wrong. When I write stories, I try to ask myself if Christ himself would not just have no problem with it, but would he approve of it? That sounds like a tough standard, and it can be, but it's the right one, the one we should have.

    Too often, the answer is no.

    That should also apply to what we read. What would the reaction of Christ be to reading such a piece? Would he shrug and dismiss it, or would he feel some disgust at it? It wasn't a slip of the tongue, a minor indiscretion, the word was chosen, reviewed, (probably a number of times) and then put into print. It had thought put into it, and there was time to change it, but the author didn't choose to do so.
     
  3. Phillip

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    Thank you for a great post Gina. I certainly appreciate and respect your opinion. No debate here. [​IMG]
     
  4. John of Japan

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    I don't think Grisham has been saved that long, has he? Maybe he'll grow out of it.

    I've written some on the Christian martial arts in English and several books in Japanese (self-published). I've tried to write secular stuff, but just can't. I don't think it's wrong to--I love a good novel. It's just that the Lord doesn't seem to let me write anything secular. [​IMG]
     
  5. John of Japan

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    Very good, Gina. I agree that a good author can get across what he wants without using profanity, etc. I just read one of the "Saint" detective novels by Leslie Charteris, and there was almost no swearing at all. A great read by a great author!
     
  6. Petrel

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    This is one reason why most Christian fiction is garbage. A lot of it ends up being sanitized and thereby rendered totally unrealistic. I don't think that you need to insert curse words very often, but sometimes if you're depicting the average unsaved person in a certain situation there's one exclamation that would be used 90% of the time.
     
  7. AVL1984

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    When I was away from the Lord, I too wrote several works of fiction that included cursing and some mild adult situations. When I came back to the Lord, I had to go back and revise these works. As Gina said, right is right, and wrong is wong. I think the manuscripts are better with the revisions anyhow.
     
  8. Rubato 1

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    Too many Christians lose their opportunity to influence the world for good by little compromises like these. It's been said many times, that if all Christians would do what they are supposed to do, the world would be evangelized. I hate compromise! So does God. Rev 3:15. Cold or Hot, Buddy. Pick one. Don't compromise, even if its small, even if the "Literary Community" will look "down" on you.
     
  9. Petrel

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    How does writing unrealistic fiction influence the world for good? All it does is contribute to the already tremendous amount of bad writing in the world.
     
  10. Mike McK

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    Depends on the author.

    About four or five years ago, I saw an interview with a famous comedian and they asked him about his one curse word.

    He was known at that time for his family friendly material (although he now associates with a couple of other comedians who are "R" rated), but had one gag that contained an exaggerated profane word.

    The interviewer (I think it was Terri Gross) asked him, "Why, when you go to such lengths to make the rest of your material so clean, do you not only use that word, but make a point of using that particular word?"

    He replied, "[My writing partner] and I sat up all night with that and we went through about a hundred different words and phrases and not one of them carried the same comedic weight as [the 'S' word] did".

    Likewise, somebody once asked Mel Brooks what the funniest number was. They asked him jokingly, thinking that he would give a humorous answer but, instead, he looked very thoughtful and said "Thirty-seven. Thirty-seven lends itself to comic timing more than any other number". He then proceeded to explain the history of the number thirty seven in comedy (who knew?) and concluded, "Who knows why? That's one of the great mysteries of the Universe. Some words are just funnier than others and nobody knows why".

    In the same way, there are times, even though we may find certain words distasteful, when they are the only appropriate words.
     
  11. Rubato 1

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    Aesop and Doyle, for example, provide good respite for a busy mind, not to mention books that whet the appetite for young readers. [​IMG]
     
  12. Petrel

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    That's not what I mean. I'm thinking of Tolkien's idea of a Secondary World. The world we write can operate by completely different physical laws, but to allow for believability it must be internally consistent. One thing that hardly anyone attempts to meddle with is human nature. In general characters in a story think and act the same way in Middle-earth as they do on Perelandra. But some Christians want to sanitize the actions and thoughts of characters in books so they end up with two-dimensional characters that we know are bad or carnal just because the author says so. I would rather such authors just didn't try to handle anything more serious than children's books if they're going to turn everything into fluff.

    There's the additional hitch that explicitly Christian fiction is usually written to advance an agenda, unfortunately.
     
  13. John of Japan

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    I disagree here. There is more and more good Chrisian fiction out there that doesn't feel the need to insert curse words, etc. I think the works of the Thoene's are one example.
     
  14. MRCoon

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    While I understood your point I had to chuckle at the reading of it -
    :confused:

    Isn't fiction basically 'unrealistic' by definition? [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  15. JamesBell

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    The topic brings us to a good question. I read little fiction (just don't have the time usually) but I did manage to get through the Left Behind series. Clearly there were times that the unsaved characters would have used curse words, but in the book they stayed away from them. While reading, I can't remember it ever being an issue. I never thought "Oh, this is trash, he would have cursed in that situation!" However, it is true that the books could have been more "real" if the authors would have included some cursing. But then you are left with another issue. We all know people that use curse words in nearly every sentence. To not include this in a work of fiction would also detract from the realism. However, I don't really think you could use a "F" word a couple of hundred times in a book and still call it "Christian". Maybe it is just me, but I will settle for the "clean" version. It gets the point across just fine and isn't any less real than a book that uses just a few curse words.
     

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