Readers say they want reality. Publishers say too much reality is a downer and downers don’t sell. They say people who are in the midst of debt, depression, bankruptcy and loss don’t want to read heavy topics. Readers need something distracting and uplifting and the sales numbers bear it out. So we try to tell our stories in positive, uplifting ways but if the story subject is heavy to begin with, how do you even market the book? How do your write back cover copy that conveys both realism and hope – something that will make readers want to take a chance?
How much reality do people really want?
During the 30s, Hollywood produced movies like Gone with the Wind, Wizard of Oz, Snow White, Captains Courageous, and Stagecoach to distract the public from the problems of the Great Depression. Escapism. These stories couched realism in fancy. A woman survives the Civil War, a girl learns she has power over her situations and another runs from her dysfunctional family. A boy learns what it takes to be a man, and a man becomes a hero. Let’s face it, these are great stories, regardless of the financial climate.
Latayne and Patti led us into some great discussions on authentic writing this week, and many of you shared from deep places in your lives. So much potential for great storytelling! And while there are wonderful, authentic stories in the Christian market that require us to wade with the protagonist through swift, muddy waters to the shores of spiritual growth, there are others that simply distract us from our problems for awhile. A bit of escapism is okay, too.
For those of us who prefer the swift, muddy waters, it is quite possible that we are not the target audience of Christian fiction. If so, where does that leave us as readers and writers? Tell us what you think.