How is a Christian Novel Different?

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Many of you read my novels that are published by a Christian publisher. I’m often asked how my novels are different from a general market book, and my response is always the same:

Novels are about strong characters who have a problem to solve. It’s all about character.

But there’s more. A Christian novel is a story in which one or more of the characters solve his/her problems or strive for a goal from a Christian Worldview. God is a priority: His plan and His purpose for the character. Flaws and weaknesses are important parts of the character’s journey. Faith aspect is not an engine additive. It rises from the writer’s deep rooted convictions. Good overcomes evil. Period.

Sometimes Christian fiction is called inspirational, but the category is misleading because any religion can refer to a story that embraces core beliefs as inspirational.

A Christian novel can be any genre.

A Christian writer can create novels for the general market or the Christian market.

A Christian Publishing House understands the business is also a ministry. Many of these publishers contribute to charitable organizations and make an intentional effort to pray for their writers and employees.

Here are 10 of my writing objectives for every story:

  1. Realistic, unexpected, and unpredictable.
  2. Values and beliefs are shown, not told.
  3. Goals to entertain, inspire, and encourage readers.
  4. Internal beliefs fed by life experiences and often lies the character believes about life, the world, and him/herself.
  5. Well-developed characters with a rich backstory.
  6. A plot filled with twists and turns, ups and downs, stress, tension, and conflict. The character arc includes a spiritual thread.
  7. Dialogue that’s fresh, exciting, and in character.
  8. Narrative rooted in point of view.
  9. Provide realistic emotion and symbolism for the reader’s evocative experience.
  10. Create an antagonistic setting, where everything works against the character.

In a Christian novel, readers may be uncomfortable with what is stated regarding faith. A story is about a character struggling to achieve a goal, not an opportunity to pound the reader over the head with a Bible or a philosophy.

A few distinguishing attributes for the Christian novel:

  • Avoids cursing
  • Avoids sex scenes
  • Avoids violence for violence sake

What a Christian novel is not:

  • A platform intended to evangelize all those who are not Christian.
  • Preachy, where the characters are unrealistic, unsympathetic, and their actions predictable.
  • Filled with words only other Christians might understand.
  • A narrative of sermons, people quoting Scripture, or lengthy prayers.

A common theme for all novels:

  • Show strong characters who are not victims but survivors.
  • Pit characters against the forbidden, frightening, and unknown. Adversity is the classroom for spiritual growth and positive change. Adversity also reveals who the inner character really is.

The next time someone asks why you’re reading a Christian novel, feel assured to say, “It’s all about character.”

How do you describe a Christian novel?

DiAnn Mills



DiAnn’s Library Corner

Librarian – Are your patrons aware of the many fiction & nonfiction Christian books in your library?

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