Question About A Character's Lifestyle

Discussion in 'Writing & Publishing Discussion' started by Scott Shelton, May 8, 2017.

  1. Scott Shelton

    Scott Shelton New Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2017
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am working on a romantic, Christian fiction novel ( not bonnet fiction ) and have a question about how I can relate a characters life of bad choices and still have a chance of being published. Getting published is hard enough, I don't want to make it impossible with my character's background.

    The character arc I'm working on is of a young woman that believes she cannot make the right choice in men and through the book she learns that the right choice isn't always the obvious choice. Unfortunately, with that arc, it means I need to give her a history of dating and having relationships with men of less than perfect morals.

    To put it bluntly, does my character having a promiscuous background hurt my chances of being published? To be clear, I'm not planning on writing explicit scenes, just alluding to the previous choices and how they have molded her concepts of what a relationship should be like. Of course, these concepts are challenged and changed by the end of the novel.

    Thanks,
    Scott
     
  2. lynnmosher

    lynnmosher Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2007
    Messages:
    30,903
    Likes Received:
    1,270
    Depends. Are you going for CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) or ABA (American Booksellers Association)? I'm guessing CBA. Many have voiced their concerns such as yours as to what will be acceptable. If you write in too much of a character's background, habits, personality, etc., readers will see it as not Christian enough and they won't read it. On the other hand, if you don't put in enough, they won't read it 'cause it's boring. Since this is definitely not my field of expertise, I'll let others give you more info on this. One thing, though, you are definitely not alone in your concerns. :)
     
  3. Scott Shelton

    Scott Shelton New Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2017
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Lynn,

    Thanks for replying and I'm relieved to hear I'm not alone in trying to find the proper balance between showing how much a character can change during the novel vs. what would be acceptable to Christian publishers.

    Regards.
     
  4. lynnmosher

    lynnmosher Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2007
    Messages:
    30,903
    Likes Received:
    1,270
    You're welcome! :)
     
  5. Poem Parks

    Poem Parks Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2017
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    36
    Hi, Scott! I don't read enough within the "Christian market" to answer your question. I do have a suggestion, though: Read several published, Christian market books that are similar to yours.

    Doing so will help you answer your own question. Also, if you plan to query agents, know that many want the writer to include comparable titles in the query letter. If you provide comp titles, that gives the agent an idea of what your book is like, and it also shows you've been reading in your genre and/or category, which we all should be doing. :)
     
  6. SmartrykFoster

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    12
    It depends on what each individual publisher is willing to publish.

    The best way to find out, I think, is to read (or skip through) a few books that are published by each publisher that you intend to approach. If they've published your type of material before, they may be willing to publish it again.

    Publishers tend to know their consumer market. Publishers also culture a brand. Readers come to expect things from publishers, so publishers set their limits and boundaries based on readers' expectations (they don't want to drive their customers away).

    I suppose you could ask a literary agent who is familiar with the type of works that those publishers publish.

    The bottom line is that you should know your audience. Where would your audience look for a book like yours? Which publisher caters to your audience?

    Sometimes, a Christian book can sell through a not-exclusively-Christian publisher if the book has enough appeal to a non-Christian audience.
     
  7. suspensewriter

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2016
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    32
    That was a great response, SmartykFoster!

    Just one other comment, Scott, and you'll forgive me I hope since you probably already have thought of this, but just the fact that you're asking this, I think, might indicate you have real concerns about the content already. There's usually a strong internal monitor whose alarms go off if you're on unsafe ground- not always right but they do their best to warn us away from mistakes.

    But if you'd like a suggestion, shelve the entire project for six to nine months. Put it away and don't think about it. When you take it out you'll be seeing it (to a degree) with new eyes and I think you'll be able to answer the question then with no problem.
     
    SmartrykFoster likes this.