Why I Don’t Share My Faith Through My Fiction


English: A cross close to the church in Grense...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a Christian author. There, I said it. And I’m not ashamed of it. I know it’s semantics and to some it doesn’t mean much (and to others it means a lot and they’ll vehemently disagree with me) but I’m not an author who is a Christian. For me, the Christian part comes first . . . and should in everything I do. A Christian father; a Christian husband; a Christian therapist. Not that I have to state it in such a way every time I mention one of the roles I play but for clarification it needs to be said once in a while. And I need to be reminded once in a while.

For me, my identity as a Christian, a follower of Christ, comes first. It’s my foundation, my starting point and my ending point. The worldview through which I view and interpret the world around me.

So when I write fiction that worldview, that Christian belief system, finds its way into the story. It has to because it’s who I am as a person, as a writer. If it didn’t I wouldn’t be true to myself and my art.

And as a Christian we are called to share our faith, not to jam it down any listener’s throat, not to burden people with it, not to use it as a battering ram, but simply to share it. So the challenge is before me:

How do I share my faith without being preachy or heavy-handed?

The answer, for me, is simple: I just don’t. That’s right, read it again. I don’t share my faith. I let the characters share their faith. Readers don’t want an author preaching at them, that’s not why they pick up a novel. What they want in fiction is to be entertained, to be moved, to learn something about mankind and maybe themselves, to see the world through different eyes, but not to be heckled with preachiness from the author.

So I share the faith–a faith that carries such hope and love and peace–through the lives and struggles and questions and triumphs of the characters I create. And if I do my job effectively readers will accept that because it’ll be some of the same questions they have, the same struggles and trials and valleys, the same quest for meaning and hope, the same desire for unconditional love and belonging. And it’ll hit home and reach into the readers’ heart and touch that cord that will send a deep, meaningful, lasting thrum through their soul.

And really, for me, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what motivates me to keep pressing on, keep writing, keep creating characters who will share their story, their faith.

Question: At what point does faith in fiction turn you off? How much is too much?

(If you liked this post, I invite you to check out my other blog, Michael King, Stories of Faith and Family)

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About mikedellosso

Mike Dellosso is an author of wide-eyed suspense. He writes stories that not only entertain but enlighten.

Posted on July 3, 2012, in Christian Fiction, Christian Living, Writing craft and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I think you have great points here. My own walk with Christ has shown me that the best way to share my faith with someone is after I’ve developed a relationship with them. In a book , or music, or any sort of art form, you are developing a relationship with the person who is reading the book, or listening to the song or whatever art is presented.

    In that relationship, since you are a writer let’s stick with books, the reader expects honesty so the faith presented must be honest and organic, not forced. I know that you have been accused of tricking readers with “Scream”, and maybe other novels, into reading a “religious” book. But the conversion by Mark Stone made sense, especially after the things he experienced. It was more than fair.

    I think audience is important too. I know Christian musicians who play in bars specifically to be a light there. Their approach is much different than a musician who plays only in a church. So maybe an author who writes for a secular publisher may approach things different than one who writes for a Christian publisher. I haven’t made it that far yet, but hopefully I’ll find out soon. 🙂

    To answer your question, as long as the faith presented is honest and doesn’t feel forced, it’s fine. There’s a part in the book I am working on now where I wedged faith in there. It jumps out at me and dances around. I know it doesn’t belong there.

    Sorry for the blog post. 🙂

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    • Shane, please don’t apologize! You have spoken truth and appreciate your input. I agree totally that the delivery of faith must be organic and natural, not forced, and yes, it is a challenge.

      On another note, a lot of authors of faith-based fiction get accused of “tricking” readers into reading a Christian novel but the reality is that the author has little if any control over how the publisher or seller positions the book. But the author takes the rap. Boo-hoo. 🙂

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  2. I have read books that are written both ways, with a small amount of faith shared and then so much that it is on the preachy side. One of my favorite CF authors has very little mention of faith issues in his stories but what he does include makes great impact as it is things that we face in everyday life. The character struggles with the issue or issues and doesn’t necessarily come to a decision by the end of the book but you know that their thought process has taken a different turn.

    I personally would much rather read a book written in this way than one that preaches at you from start to finish.

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  3. I don’t know that I’ve personally read anything that has had too much faith presented in the fiction, at least not that I can remember. But I think it’d be too much if it didn’t personally impact the characters. If a point is grounded in and it doesn’t have anything to do with the current story or one of the characters, then it wouldn’t be appropriate in the book and might start feeling overdone.
    Interestingly enough, as I read your post it did bring to mind a scene that is in a book I’m looking to print within the next couple of months and now I think I need to go back and rework that. It kind of does stick out like a sore thumb when I think about it in the whole of the book. So thanks for this post as it helped point out where I need some brushing up in my own writings! 🙂

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  4. I love this post and I wish every Christian author thought this way. For me too much is when a scene is set up so that a character quotes Scripture endlessly in troubled situations or when it is set up for a preacher to deliver a long sermon that makes the author’s point. I agree with you that the characters should share their own faith, which also comes with struggles and questions.

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  5. Faith in fiction turns me away when it jolts me out of the plot and storyline, especially when it comes towards the end and I feel like they did that to hook me in and then drag me through the awkwardness. I’ve appreciated reading your weaving of faith as a part of the plot and letting it progress in a more natural and discovered way. Not only is this more palatable, but it also seems to be more realistic and thoughtful. Other experiences I’ve had it seems like the author found a place to plop the gospel presentation including the entire Romans Road into the plot after developing most of the story. It was just awkward. Usually the character in these books is written from an introspective, intimate situation and then suddenly they become this extrovert with lots to say. The integrity of the story, the plot and the character are part of the presentation of the integrity of the gospel. As Marshal McLuhan argued, “The medium is the message.” To break the medium in order to present any message is to break the message. The gospel deserves greater care.

    Another avenue that an author has to present the Gospel is in their own life around the books. The author’s life before their fans is an increasingly powerful part of the opportunity to present faith and the gospel. In our current culture, they are not only creators, but leaders of a community closely tied with their product. As leaders they have great power given by those who follow them.

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    • Josiah, a great reminder of how important the story as a whole is to the presentation of Truth. And yes, the gospel deserves great care when delivered in any medium . . . totally agree. And thanks for reminding us all of the responsibility authors have in this current publishing climate where social media has placed us all in the spotlight. What we say and how we react impacts our message as a whole. Authors today have a drastically different outlook than authors of the past. So much more opportunity, but as always, with more opportunity comes more responsability.

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  6. Terri Conrad

    Personally, I think you have it right on. You or any other Christian Fiction I have read so far has not been pushy with religion. I do see the faith through the characters actions as I really get into the characters when I read. As you stated, most people read for entertainment. That is me.

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  7. Hi, Mike — I’m glad I found your blog. This post is timely as I try to pinpoint my writing goals. You’ve given me a lot to think about. I just read The Testament by John Grisham and I was surprised by the conversion scene. To me it didn’t seem to be handled with the care that it deserves (as Josiah says so well, above). I stopped reading contemporary fiction for a time, but I’m getting back to it now that I’m writing again. Do you have a sampler page for any of your books? I don’t usually read suspense, but I might build up the courage to read one of yours.

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    • Hi Darla, thanks for the comment! There are samples of all my books on Amazon on the “Look Inside” feature. Also, for a good sampling of my writing that isn’t too suspenseful you can get my novella REARVIEW on Amazon for just $1.99. It’s a quick read and will give you an idea of the kind of writing I do. Hope you enjoy it!

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  8. thinkingiswrite

    You made a valid point. I totally agree. As a Christian writer myself, I also, “let the characters share their faith.” Thank you for writing this post. Love, Kay Lynté

    Like

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