How My Faith Informs my Fiction. Part 2.
So now that I’ve established that I don’t write Christian fiction and explored my reasons behind it, it maybe time to talk about what exactly I do write about.
Of course, taste is a big factor in any kind of art. I write what I want to read. But being a Christian, there are many things that I don’t add into my books because I am opposed on a moral level to them. There are other things that I do add into my books that cause some of my more conservative fellow believers to cringe but I feel like I have freedom to do so.
It’s taken me awhile to find my balance and sort out my reasons for the more controversial aspects of my writing. I strive to set my standards with as much wisdom as I can and I use the Bible as my reference as culture and subculture can often be slanted.
In today’s post I’d like to address two of these things.
Fictional violence doesn’t bother me unless it is excessive and unnecessary. One of my favorite shows, Vikings, crossed the line on more than a few occasions and is one of the reasons why I stopped watching it. I don’t however, feel like there is any moral problem with violence. If there was, we would see much less of it spoken of in the bible.
While the Bible doesn’t revel in gore, it doesn’t shy away from truthful depictions of the events in it. The story of the Levite Priest and his concubine as well as most of David's story are great examples.
I feel like the level of violence depicted is more about taste than about morality. There is even a level of gleeful violence that I’m OK with when it is played to humorous effects. As with most things, I’ll give a bit of extra slack for humor.
What I am not ok with is “torture porn” or basically, blood, gore and pain for its sake alone. It is the main reason that I don’t watch or read horror almost at all. It is also the reason why you will never see any sort of serial killer thriller of the like from me. Human life has worth, it has value. Even in fiction. A bit of fictional blood is expected. Danger makes for a good story and if you are going to depict danger you have to know the consequences of failure, but there is a difference between violence that furthers a story and violence that is the center of a story.
On that note, sexual violence is something that is particularly abhorrent to me and it is something that I try to use only with the utmost respect I can. I cannot promise that it will never pop up in my writing but I can promise that I will never depict the act. You will probably see more of that in the following post.
I do write dark fiction, and violence is often a factor. I don’t like my heroes to get away easy and I don’t like to promise danger without showing it. I try to model my action sequences after those in the Bourne Trilogy, but sometimes stray just a bit further. It’s taken me awhile to find my balance and it might change with the genre, but if you go in expecting some fast paced and sometimes bloody action scenes, you won’t be disappointed.
Bad language actually seems to be a more sensitive topic on a lot of Christian circles than violence. Of course, language is also a lot more difficult to gauge. That is because bad language is often a cultural thing.
Once again, there is strong language in the Bible. It is a natural part of human communication often used to express strong emotion when other things fail. While you or I might not interpret the language in the Bible as swearing or profanity, culturally there was a fair share of it and a lot that was even more shocking than what we use today.
There are a few things that I try to abide to when I use swearing in my work. Firstly, the Bible does warn against using the Lord’s name in vain as well as imploring us not to make crude jokes. I have done my best to stick within those guidelines as far as I am able to culturally. I can’t account for how cultures that I am not familiar with might read into a saying.
The Bible also tells us to avoid deliberately offending fellow others, even if we disagree with their beliefs. Because I write adult science fiction that is not in a Christian category, I feel like it is accepted and even expected that I use some language, particularly with the characters and world I’ve built. Despite that I tried to stay to mild swear words, most of which are not even considered swearing by many people. When I do choose to use a harsher word, I try to only put it into a context where it will further the story.
While I don’t believe if it sinful (there is no clear word on it in the Bible, which makes sense because it is so cultural in nature) I don’t personally swear. I don’t mind watching movies or reading books with it in either, provided there is not a lot of crude humor around the subject. I just don't feel like this is a guideline I have to work around in my writing when it will take away some of the impact if I do.
So if you do pick up my book, be aware that there is some swearing. I try not to use it without cause and I do believe that using the words I chose, which I looked at carefully in regards to culture and history, help reader immersion and allow for a better reading experience.
This post was a bit longer than usual, but hopefully that helped give you some insight into the content of my books and my reasoning behind it. Stay tuned for next week when we discuss the things that you will never see in my book, no matter what the end might be.