You pick up a novel thinking it’s a squeaky-clean-read and soon discover it contains colorful language and some situations that you did not anticipate. Had you known, you would not have purchased the book.
You pick up a book thinking it contains dialogue that is more representative of the way people speak in today’s world. You want authenticity of voice, even though you would not use that kind of language or approve of the specific situation in the book. But you welcome it because it supports a story which, at its core, supports Christian values and biblical principles. You thought you were picking up an edgy Christian fiction book, but what you got was a squeaky clean novel that doesn’t resonate with a true voice for the intended story line. Had you known, you would not have purchased the book.
If you are a fan of Christian fiction, you might have found yourself in either one of these two situations. The problem with Christian fiction is: what may seem edgy to one person, may be perfectly acceptable to another and vice versa. Thus the dilemma: How do you know if that next Christian fiction novel you want to read, meets your personal standards as a reader?
The reviews might not reveal the degree to which colorful language, violence, and sex are part of the storyline, or to what degree the dialogue goes off the deep end.
A squeaky clean book and an edgy book might both be written with a Christian worldview, but their expression could be on opposite ends of the acceptability spectrum for you.
As a reader, there is nothing worse that feeling like you’ve been deceived. You drop the book like a hot potato and write a scathing review.
As an author, there is nothing worse than getting a scathing review from an irate reader who thought your book was one thing but got another.
As readers and authors of Christian fiction, we have been struggling with this issue for quite some time. How can the content of a Christian fiction novel be adequately described and rated so that readers won’t experience disenchantment? Ratings like G, PG 13, and R do not go far enough in describing content and voice. As we have seen, many PG13 movies contain what many would consider R material.
To that end, we’ve developed a ranking system that will reduce reader disenchantment. It won’t help if the book is written poorly, but it will let folks know, in much greater detail, what they can expect from the standpoint of, “To what degree is this book “edgy?”
The system allows the author to rank their book in one of the following categories.
Non – Edgy Christian Fiction
No offensive language / conforms to biblical principles and supports a Christian worldview as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Light – Edgy Christian Fiction
May contain uncomfortable situations / no F-bombs or implied sex / may contain light violence / conforms to biblical principles and supports a Christian worldview as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Medium – Edgy Christian Fiction
May contain stronger language, perhaps an occasional F-bomb / may contain implied sex / may contain stronger violence / conforms to biblical principles and supports a Christian worldview as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Heavy – Edgy Christian Fiction
Contains F-bombs and/or sexual situations – may be graphic / may contain heavy violence and possible gore / conforms to biblical principles and supports a Christian worldview as a follower of Jesus Christ.
It is important to note that each description contains the following parameter “conforms to biblical principles and supports a Christian worldview as a follower of Jesus Christ.” This means that merely mentioning Christianity, the pope, a Christian landmark or anything else deemed to represent Christianity, does not make it a Christian fiction book. The work must “support” a Christian worldview as a follower of Jesus Christ. This must be met or else the work is not “Christian fiction” or “Edgy Christian fiction.”
As we move to apply this ranking system to existing novels, initially, it will be up to the author to determine which rank best describes their work. If a book is in our system and the author does not rank it, it will remain without a rank until a reader applies a rank to it. Because there are so many books that need to be ranked, we hope readers and reviewers will take the time to review our books and help us with the ranking process. It is a big job, but I think the effort will be worth it for reader and authors alike. If you would like to rank a Christian fiction book, click here to rank it based on your reading experience.
If you are a blogger or reviewer and would like to join us as we build the largest most comprehensive edgy Christian fiction community, please join us. Our mission at www.edgychristianfiction.com is to help readers discover their next Christian fiction novel and to allow authors to more adequately describe what the reader can expect when reading their book.
It’s a win-win for all.