Monday, October 29, 2007

Violence in Christian Fiction

Drop by Spoiled for the Ordinary, where Jason is discussing this topic which came out of a blog tour for ILLUMINATED by Bronleewe. This topic has come up now and then since Christian publishers began to allow more grit and edge into the works that are being offered to readers.

Join the discussion if this topic is pertinent to your work or to the material you read. I left a comment (which I proofed and tweaked to copy here, cause I never proof my comments and I end up looking like a semi-literate yokel):

Some readers cannot tolerate any but the most minimal level of violence. Others can take more.

I want the violence in fiction to have something actually to do with the theme/characterization. I don't want violence thrown in just cause, "Oh, the book was getting slow, so let me shoot someone in the face."

People are violent. A quick look at any history of humankind, Biblical or secular, or any morning paper clears doubts about that fast. And the nice people who live around you will become violent given the right circumstances. As long as we can be well fed, housed, etc, we can fool ourselves that we're non-violent. But have someone come up and put a knife to your kid's throat, and most so-called pacifists are gonna start looking for a gun or rock or whatever.

And if there's only one loaf of bread left to eat in the city, people will kill to make sure they are the ones who get to feed their own bellies or their kids' bellies. Even nice grandmas will find a way to rip their way to that loaf of bread.

So, fiction, which distills the human experience, whether it's joyful or horrific, has room for the most violent and offensive of human behavior. How does one write about, say, inner city life, a war zone, the Holocaust, a riot without violence? To do so is to whitewash the horror that being human sometimes can become. And the heroic behavior of some is less heroic if we don't properly depict the awfulness in which they act heroically? If someone risks their life to save someone in the midst of a shooting spree, it is deceptive not to show the real awfulness of that shooting spree. Or that bomb. Or that riot. Or that home invasion, etc.

I think that any level of violence is acceptable if it's warranted by the story's genre, tone, the characters, and the situation--that crucible in which we place characters.

For those who don't like the awful truth, there's always escapist fiction of the sweet sort. That has its place and purpose, too. :)

If you wanna see/buy some of the books that have gotten "violence in fiction" discussions going, here they are:


Jason said...

Thanks for the link and comments Mir. I'm interested in where the discussion will lead, and am happy to have good people giving their 2 cents.

BTW, good to see you up and blogging regularly again! Keep up the good fight!


I'm not "in" to violence for violence's sake, but if it fits the story, I write it.

In my local writers group (all of us are Christians), I'm the only one who doesn't shy away from including the violence, but I'm also the only one writing battle scenes or stories with swords and crude medieval guys. I've pretty much given up on sharing anything of that nature with the group because it's either not understood or it's deplored for even existing.

I don't get some crazy high from either reading or writing violence, but I want to be true to characters, eras, etcetera. My work's not excessive in detail, either.

After all, what's more graphic than the crucifixion, the linchpin of my faith?