Quality Christian Fantasy Fiction Defined
Quality Christian fantasy fiction is good story, grounded in a biblical worldview that sees the world as it really is and communicates truth without preaching, while captivating the mind and stirring the heart. Let’s look deeper into that statement:
Quality Christian Fantasy Fiction
There are those who think the very idea of “Christian fantasy” is contradictory. To them, putting the words Christian and fantasy together is heretical! And I will grant that I have read some so-called Christian fantasy that was indeed heretical, that was not quality Christian fantasy fiction.
There are also those who name the name of Christ but think that there is no place for Christian fantasy fiction. They seem to think that as good artists Christians should just write quality fantasy fiction without any real Christian flavor to it. They eschew weaving any kind of Christian message into one’s story.
On the other hand, I would maintain that it is possible to write quality Christian fantasy, as with such stories as Pilgrim’s Progress. So let us continue to parse my opening statement: Quality fantasy fiction…
Is Good Story
I have read good stories and I have read bad stories. I have purchased books with the hope of enjoying a good story, but alas, I regretted the waste of money. To be quality Christian fantasy the story must be “good story,” a story with engaging characters, a solid plot, captivating scenes, a beginning that draws one into the story, a middle that keeps one immersed in the story, and a satisfying end that ties up loose end and puts a smile on the face of the reader while leaving him or her hungering for your next book.
That kind of quality is my goal as a Christian author, and should be every Christian writer’s goal. Do we always attain that goal? Probably not. Some stories are no doubt better than others, and some will appeal to one group of readers while not appealing to another group. For instance, most readers love CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, while his friend, JRR Tolkien did not care for them. Still, they are quality Christian fantasy.
Continuing: Quality Christian fantasy fiction is good story…
Grounded in a Biblical Worldview
One might presume a story is Christian fantasy because they happen to be aware that the author is a Christian. However, a Christian author might indeed write a story that is simply a fantasy story with no Christian qualities, with less than Christian attributes, or even warped Christian concepts. In other words, being tagged as a Christian author does not guarantee a quality Christian fantasy story. I would contend that to be a quality Christian fantasy story the story must be grounded in a solid biblical worldview, written from a human perspective while seeing the big picture through a biblical lens—seeing through God’s eyes.
Carrying the original statement the next step: Quality Christian fantasy fiction is good story grounded in a biblical worldview…
That Sees the World as It Really Is
When looking through the biblical lens you will not observe a wonderful world untainted by evil. All the great men of God are presented to us with scratches, warts and weaknesses. The biblical lens sees the world as it really is. So a quality Christian fantasy story will also see the world as it really is with characters that are flawed, that struggle, that fail. Quality Christian fantasy does not gloss over evil. On the other hand, when dealing with the realities of immorality the Christian author will not be obscene or lewd. And there are ways of handling language without stooping to the vile or vulgar.
The following is how I handled a rape scene in my epic fantasy novel, Word of Honor:
Patrxna’s eyes danced with joy, as she hurried along beside him. They passed through the stand of poplars and came to a beautiful flowered meadow. Patrxna gasped in awe. “Look! Over there beyond the meadow, a weeping willow. Isn’t it beautiful?”
Zandirxn’s eyes were not on the willow tree.
When Patrxna turned and met his gaze, fear gripped her breast.
There in the loveliest meadow in the realm, Prince Zandirxn picked the realm’s loveliest flower, cast it on the ground, and defiled it. When he rose from his vile deed, he laughed and walked away.
The Christian author sees the world as it really is but does not embrace its vulgarity.
Quality Christian fantasy fiction is good story grounded in a biblical worldview that sees the world as it really is…
And Communicates Truth without Preaching
When I sit down to write a story my purpose is to tell an engaging tale, not preach a sermon. Truth will be a natural part of the fiber of the story, and I emphasize the word “natural.” However, in some instances, like the stories in my Acceptable Fruit anthology, I purpose from the outset to illustrate a particular truth, but each story is just that, a story, and the stories are not didactic. When a story is grounded in a biblical worldview truth speaks without “speaking.”
So, quality Christian fantasy fiction is good story grounded in a biblical worldview that sees the world as it really is and communicates truth without preaching…
While Captivating the Mind and Stirring the Heart
What is the purpose of story if not to captivate the mind and stir the heart? I love a story that draws me in, that makes me feel a part of it, that moves me. I just finished reading Worlds Unseen by Rachel Starr Thomson and it grabbed me. I felt characters’ fears, pains, and joys, and at times was brought to tears. Boring stories may be purchased, but are they read? Maybe a chapter or two. No, give me a story that captivates and moves me! I want a story to speak to me. I want a meaningful takeaway.
So again, quality Christian fantasy fiction is good story, grounded in a biblical worldview that sees the world as it really is and communicates truth without preaching, while captivating the mind and stirring the heart.
What are your thoughts about quality Christian fantasy fiction?