Where Readers & Writers Connect
What are you to do if you’re a Christian author who is about to take the plunge and write for the general market? First of all, write a really good novel. Write a novel with compelling characters that readers will care about. Make the reader laugh, or cry, as the case might be.
A number of Christian writers feel they’re called to reach nonbelievers who only purchase general market novels. So, a fair question would be how does the Christian author reach that reader? Well, first of all, a novel that delights the folks in the pews is most likely not going to do much for the general market reader.
The Christian author who intends to reach the nonbeliever with the message of hope that is the Lord Jesus Christ might want to think of their novel as seed. If they intend for their novel to be read, they might have to write one that functions in terms of seed planting. The novel that speaks to the nonbeliever will probably introduce the notion that God is something the reader needs in his/her life.
When I was a child, American society was at the tail end of the period where the nation could be said to have a heavily Christian culture. Now there are only remnants of that Christian culture and those are being eradicated quite quickly. What I’m trying to get at is that years ago, Christian symbolism in a general market novel was not verboten. Most Americans were comfortable with Christian symbols and understood the basic tenets of the faith. This is no longer the case. So, the cross-over writer will have to explain some of the most rudimentary elements of the faith to readers, but not seem to.
No, I’m not suggesting trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the reader. Not at all. I’m suggesting that this explanation of the Christian faith should not take away from the story. First of all, the plotline should be riveting. The reader should want to turn the pages. The characters should be fascinating. The reader should be so enthralled with the heroine and hero that he/she doesn’t want the book to end. And in addition to all this, without showing the heavy hand of the author, seeds of faith can be planted.
When gardeners go to a nursery they might purchase a small tomatoes plant in a plastic cup to give them a head start on the growing process. This is not a seed. In my opinion, a Christian writer who chooses the general market intending to write for nonbelievers must pray and ask the Lord to show them how to reach the nonbeliever who has absolutely no idea who our God is and what He’s about. When I did that, the Lord reminded me that a mustard seed is very small indeed.
Nike Chillemi, author of Burning Hearts, the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction and was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category.