A Journey of faith within the church, the culture and the world
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Thinking about "Clean Fiction"
I just finished editing my manuscript for a novel I have written called The Dead Cry Out. It's a supernatural mystery novel with some underlying theological questions. There is a murder or two, some ghosts, and a smattering of cussing. There's no sex, so is my novel "clean?" My publisher now has the manuscript, so I guess I'll find out soon enough.
I understand the avoidance of gratuitous sex, violence, and coarse language in a novel. On the other hand, if you are writing about a couple of thugs planning to kill someone, making one of them say "Phooey" or "Merciful heavens" might just kick the reader right out of the story. They would probably talk like dirty-mouthed tough guys, and the reader would expect that. It doesn't need to be gratuitous, but it should be somewhat realistic.
I've attempted to get some of my undisciplined characters to talk and act nicely, but they won't cooperate. They do tend to take on a life of their own, and you know this if you've done any writing of fiction.
Some websites and blogs that I've read suggest that "clean fiction" is specifically for Christians because Christians can't tolerate profanity, violence, or sex in their novels. I don't think that's right. Almost all Christians I know routinely read about gang rape that results in death, murder by impalement, sex with prostitutes, and some of the most graphic and violent executions imaginable. It's all there in the Bible, so I'm sure that I'm right about this.