Christian fiction is often ignored by readers looking for quality fiction, and not without good reason. All too often the characters in the standard Christian fare are too perfect (both physically and emotionally), the stories are cliché, the endings neatly wrapped up. Publishers avoid stories that touch on controversial issues. Many Christian publishers have a list of “don’ts” that writers need to follow: Christians shouldn’t smoke, drink beer, dance, play cards, etc. Church’s should be “community” or “Baptist”. Even infant baptism is seen as too controversial. The result is a story that is removed from reality. Add that to substandard writing skills, and you have a product that even the most avid reader will set down before finishing.
Over the past few years, some writers have broken through the box that the Christian market has placed them in. More authors have been able to craft stories with authentic characters living through real life situations. The quality of writing has improved along with the stories.
Following this entry, I’ve highlighted two authors who have dared to break the mold: Dale Cramer and Charles Martin. Both write colorful fiction whose appeal goes beyond the Christian audience. Their books present a witness without being preachy. If they are representative of where “Christian” fiction is heading, its outreach will finally draw in the secular reader it covets, as well as the Christian.