There aren’t a lot of authentic characters of faith in modern entertainment. And that’s a waste.
I’ve often wondered why more writers don’t include faith as one of the key components of their main character. It adds weight to everything they do. The story no longer becomes just about what the protagonist is trying to do, but how they do it can have eternal consequences on their soul.
Being someone of faith, adding such a character to my novels is a no-brainer. It’s the most obvious layer one could add to their protagonist that inherently creates conflict, either internally for the character or externally when they interact with people of varying belief systems.
So why don’t more writers do it?
I assume it comes from two basic places. Many writers are not believers or have little interest in faith. Or they don’t want to be limited by a Christian fiction label.
Let me take each of those separately.
I think its wise for writers apathetic to faith to avoid trying to write a character with one. Invariably, the characters come off as inauthentic, doing things or saying things that people of faith easily recognize as false. It would be like someone who had never tasted spaghetti writing about an Italian pasta maker. You may get some of the facts straight, but the subtleties that make a character ring true would fall flat.
Inauthentic characterizations, especially in areas of faith, can easily turn one of your target audiences against you. Just look at the recent reaction to Hollywood’s Exodus movie.
As for being pigeon-holed as a Christian writer. This is a valid concern. Not because of being linked to a faith or belief, but because of its limitation on sales and reach. If you are an overtly Christian writer, then you are preaching to the choir and you like it that way. If you are writing a character who is devout, but your audience is intended to be beyond the choir, to the parking lot, the schools, and the game stores, then it is understandable that one would be concerned about limiting their audience.
For my Gabby Wells Thrillers novels, the books are not intended to preach to the choir. They are dark thrillers about a teen facing extraordinary challenges and evil. Her faith is a critical part of her life and her actions both lift up and fall short of her own beliefs. That’s realistic and dramatic. And fun.
I expect Christians to love my books. But they are intended for the non-devout as well. They are thrillers with a protagonist with strong beliefs. I think it adds a layer of conflict and drama that amps up the intensity and I anticipate these books will be enjoyed by anyone, no matter their beliefs
I hope the readers will agree with me.