Wednesday, October 13, 2010
THE BIG FOUR GENRES
I've been reading "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Christian Fiction" by Ron Benrey. We I read some of the information I think that would be great for my blog. So giving all the credit to Ron Benrey I'm going to take a genre each day and write what he has to say about each one.
CHRISTIAN CONTEMPORARY FICTION
Christian contemporary fiction is, like "general fiction," a broad category that encompasses novels that don't fit specific genres. I want to emphasize at the start that contemporary fiction is not a catchall category for jumbled genre books. Rather, it is the grouping for "uncategorized" novels that do not follow the conventions of well defined genres such as romance, mystery, suspense, or historical.
Christian contemporaries are usually full -- length novels, typically between 85,000 and 110,000 words. In fact, few 110,000 were Christian novels are published these days; the practical maximum work count is closer to 100,000 words. Publishers seem to prefer smaller books, perhaps because the cost less to produce. Many Christian contemporaries are reviewed by mainstream publications, and some become crossover gobbles with significant sales to secular readers.
"Christian women's fiction" is often considered part of contemporary fiction. You'll sometimes see "contemporary/women's fiction" as the name of the category. These are contemporary novels that deal with issues of special interest to women, including such angst filled topics as poverty, spousal abuse, child abuse, family breakdown, and abortion. They often contain love stories, but present romantic elements more introspectively and possibly less optimistically that a romance novel.
Sprawling categories like contemporary fiction will often have "subgenres" -- smaller groupings carved out of the main genre. For example, "Christian chick lit" is a recently developed contemporary sub genre that tells humorous stories of twenty something and possibly 30 something unmarried women. Because the plots typically revolve around their heroines efforts to get married, some observers view chick lit as a sub genre of the romance category. Others don't, first because a chick lit story doesn't necessarily lead to a "fully realized" romance and wedding, and second because chick lit often invites readers to laugh at other issues shared by single women, including their careers and their family relationships.
Chick lit started as a secular sub genre that often includes fairly loose -- living heroines who think materialistic, drink a lot, and engage in recreational sex. these elements are not included in Christian chick lit.
Another contemporary fiction subgenre -- one that waxes and wanes in popularity -- is the so-called "Christian character novel." The hallmark of a character novel is that the characters are more important than the plot. The actual story will be simple; so simple that some readers might say, "nothing happens as the story unfolds." In fact, one or more of the characters is changing -- usually in response to a combination of external and internal forces.
The next post will be on Christian Historical Fiction and it is very interesting. I learned a lot from this next section. Stay tuned!