Like most people who write novels from a Christian worldview, I struggle with parameters. How much violence is too much? How should discussions about sex be handled? Where is the line between gritty, timely, relevant description and that which is salacious and offensive? We’ve touched on this issue here on NovelMatters before but the controversy is perennial.
Some people think I stepped over that line in Latter-day Cipher. (Look at some of its reviews on Amazon.) In this novel, I described the acts of a man who wanted to enact the old Mormon custom of punishing apostates by shedding their blood (a practice known in Mormon history as blood atonement.)
Long ago, before I ever wrote a novel, I had a theory. I thought that it would be proper for a Christian to write within the parameters of the Bible. (I thought it was my original idea. Probably not.)
Should be fairly straightforward, it seemed: Just talk about what the Bible talks about, in the way it talks about it.
Sounds good? Well, let’s see. That would allow discussions of incest, gang-rape, murder, corpse desecration, child sacrifice, and other horrific subjects.
It would contain very little of what we call romance (except that steamy Song of Solomon, but in the narratives – almost nowhere.)
And it wouldn’t address a boatload of “hot” issues like global warming, drug abuse, or social media. (Or any media except books and letters, for that matter.)
You see the problem?
Could this be done? Is it possible, without descending into legalism, to set such boundaries? And what role would the Bible play in setting such boundaries?
I found that some publishers have their own lists of which words can and cannot be used. But aside from just vocabulary, how have others of you who are writing “realistic” Christian fiction handled this issue?