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My Handout For This Saturday (Edited)

Fantasy is a Christian Genre Too!
Craig Alan Loewen
Lancaster Christian Writers Super Saturday 2011


Christian fantasy is a story that relates fanciful or whimsical elements in a setting that is proactively and adamantly Christian (Roger Elwood’s Angelwalk) or in a theme friendly toward the Christian worldview (Lord of the Rings trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkein).

Thoughts about Christian fantasy:
  • Do not write Christian fantasy. Be a Christian who writes fantasy. The themes will make their way into the work because writing is an extension of your heart.
  • Consider writing for the secular market first; the Christian market, second.
  • You will not lead people morally astray with the genre of fantasy unless you deliberately create themes and settings that are presented as superior to Christian morality.
  • You will not lead people spiritually astray with the genre of fantasy unless you deliberately create themes and settings that are presented as superior to Christian spirituality.
  • You will not harm anybody’s sanity by writing in the fantasy genre. Fantasy readers are no strangers to thinking in the abstract and they know that animals do not really talk (Walter Wangerin, Jr.’s The Book of the Dun Cow) and that witches do not actually fly on brooms (the Harry Potter series), but can still recognize and appreciate the universal, true-north principles that motivate your characters whether they be protagonists or antagonists.
  • Determine if you are an intuitive writer or a structured writer.
  • Find a way to make peace with your internal critic, but never let the internal critic stop you from writing.
  • You are going to have critics from both sides. It cannot be avoided. Be kind, be professional, be an ambassador for Christ.
  • You do not need to turn your story into a bully pulpit. Tell your story and trust the Holy Spirit to use your story to speak to the reader.
  • Do not show people your unfinished project. Finish it first.
  • In fiction writing, it is generally unwise to write for the market. Write your story and the market will someday appear.
  • All writing is easy once you commit to put pen to paper or hand to keyboard. The sweat and blood come through rewriting and editing. In rewriting, you may have to “kill your darlings.”
  • Read your finished work out loud. If it does sound natural to the tongue, it will not sound natural to the inner voice. Better yet, have a friend read it to you.
  • Write and follow submission guidelines as if they were Holy Writ.
  • ALWAYS submit your story in a professional format, be it short story: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html or novel: http://www.shunn.net/format/novel.html
  • Most novels require cover letters. They carry the same amount of work and professionalism as the novel itself.
  • Rejection slips come with the territory. Accept it. Not every editor is going to like your work.
  • Attend writers’ conferences and make certain to join a good writers’ group.
Your opening page:

“There must be a character, a setting and situation (a time and a place), the suggestion of a problem to be solved (not necessarily the main problem of the story), and questions which can only be answered by reading further.” ~ Allen Wold http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/w/allen-wold/

Market databases:
Good writers are good readers:

  • Charles Williams (a friend of C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein)
  • James Stoddard (The High House)
  • Alan Garner (The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and its sequel The Moon of Gomrath and Elidor)
  • Robert Holdstock (Mythago Wood)
  • Alton Gansky (A Christian who writes thrillers)

Excellent books on the craft of writing:

  • Create a Culture: A Complete Framework for Students to Use in Creating an Original Culture, by Carol Nordgaarden
  • BAM: Book a Month and BAM Advanced Fiction Techniques: First Pages by Cyn Mobley
  • Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You, by Ray Bradbury
  • Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L'Engle
  • Dialogue: A Socratic Dialogue on the Art of Writing Dialogue in Fiction (Elements of Fiction Writing), by Lewis Turco
  • First Things First, by Stephen Covey (time and life management book)

My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. (Psalm 45:1)

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
eric_hinkle
Mar. 15th, 2011 02:09 am (UTC)
Thank you so very much for sharing this list; would it be okay for me to print a copy of it off to keep near my computer?



literary_equine
Mar. 15th, 2011 02:13 am (UTC)

Of course! I'd be honored.
kengara
Mar. 16th, 2011 02:51 am (UTC)
Fantasy readers are no strangers to thinking in the abstract and they know that animals do not really talk

Ironically, talking animals could be seen as originating from the Bible, I would think. Serpents, donkeys...
judetherat
Mar. 16th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
Now this is something to chew on and read through today... Thanks very much.
actonrf
Mar. 23rd, 2011 04:19 am (UTC)
Do not write Christian fantasy. Be a Christian who writes fantasy. The themes will make their way into the work because writing is an extension of your heart.


Sorry I am lat to the party but I have say yes, yes and so true.
I see too many Christian writers, from an evangelical background and musician fall into trap of mediocrity because therm or th church pigeon hole to a believe one is not a good Christian or not using one's gift for the glory of God, if one is not explicitly producing Christian media.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )