I just read a post by B.J. Hoff at her blog Grace Notes. My blood is still boiling. Oh, not at her! Bless her, she's probably one of the best teachers of writing on the web.
She's in the right, though. There is a rather loud feud going on in the Christian Fiction, Faith Fiction world concerning realism. Several months ago, I had this rather long and loud discussion at the discussion forum Faith*in*Fiction concerning this very issue.
Here's the premise: If you're protag is a policeman and he's catching bad guys and having to wade through prostitutes and homosexuals, then why have him say "Dadgumit" or something similarly inane. If there are lots of blood and gore and foul language in real life, then we must make our stories full of blood and gore and foul language so it will be real.
I am quite familiar with foul language. My ex husband brought it home in abundance and my older daughter picked it up. I had the devil of a time trying to break her of that habit. It broke and it hasn't come back, praise God! Therefore, I am well aware of the kinds of filth that the real world has in it.
If an author wants realism, then publish in the general market. If a Christian author wants to reach the lost with a story, then write a story that is so compelling no one notices the bad words are not there.
Listen... the problem is lack of creativity, not lack of realism. Here are some creative ways to give the idea, but to not pour filth into my eyes (which btw, the Lord God Almighty has warned us from doing, I might add. Do I need to post all those scriptures?)
He singed my ears with the words that flew from his mouth like spittle.
Her mouth spilled foulness as she shrieked her fury.
He cussed a blue streak as he stomped on the ticket he found on his windshield.
He swore as he jerked the perp from the car and slammed him to the hood. Then he told him what harmful things he would do to his person if he ever caused him that much trouble again.
Foul language is the mark of a very uncreative mind. It is also a mark of the ignorant. Note, I did not say stupid, just ignorant. Let me ask this. Were there foul words in Charles Dickins day? Absolutely. Did he use any? One or two, but nothing like I am subjected to today. What about William Shakespear? Walt Whitman? Nathaniel Hawthorne? They were words not used as adjectives, adverbs or objects of the preposition or prepositions. They were expletives used oh so sparingly that the appearence of one was quite shocking.
The best wordsmith I can think of, Edgar Allen Poe, never used one. He didn't have to because he knew so many words and he was a master of description.
Christian Fiction does not have to be fluffy or stuffy or preachy. Good stories need to be written by good authors, but please... I want to know I won't be subjected to really filthy stuff just because I like to read suspense, mystery and action type books. I feel safe picking up a Christian book. I want to stay safe.
Christian Fiction writers of today would do very well to read the dictionary more, study how to use those words and forget trying to reach the lost within the Christian Fiction market. Here's a word of advice... Jesus went to the sinners and the tax gatherers. He did not sit all day in church. If you want to reach the lost... write in the general market. There is only one instance when a tax collector was in church and he already knew he was a sinner and was begging for forgiveness.
The Lost are NOT going to pick up a Christian book to suddenly get saved. If anything, a lost person may pick up the Bible as a last resort for comfort or for answers. Here's a clue people: I have yet to meet a Lost Person in a Christian Book Store. Have you?