Just so we’re totally
discussion in this column will center on the Sacred Laws of Fiction
Etiquette that govern the world of fiction publishin’ and your proper
response to those Laws.
Good mornin’ once again,
faithful fiction folk. It does mah heart good to see y’all taking the
Sacred Laws of Fiction Etiquette with the extreme seriousness they
deserve. And it’s especially gratifyin’ to see that my expertise is not
being wasted on a pasty-faced passel of thick-headed young’uns who
don’t know their place. Just do not be tempted to
overstep your bounds.
Now before our time gets away
from us, let us consider this month’s question from one of our faithful
readers. Ah am in great need of a sip of my mama’s energizing
tonic—with just a wee drop of the secret formula my great-grandpappy
concocted out behind the barn way back in the woods. So hand that
envelope heah, if you will, darlin’.
Thank you, dearie. Ummm . . .
you can sit down now . . . Let’s remember who the star of this show is.
Ah will not tolerate bein’ upstaged by a little pipsqueak like you,
honey chil’. Bless your heart.
I’ve written a
powerful novel in which my characters go through the gritty kinds of
trials and tribulations so many people encounter in their daily lives.
The story doesn’t gloss over reality—in fact, I’ve been told it’s
wrenchingly honest and deeply affecting. But all I ever get from
publishers are rejection slips.
editors at Christian publishing houses so resistant to publishing edgy
stories that portray real people in the real world? I mean, shouldn’t
inspirational fiction meet people where they are and offer God’s hope
and healing in the midst of a fallen and dying world?
Where is mah fan? And hand me
those smelling salts while you’re at it. Ah do believe Ah am about to
have a sinkin’ spell. Where’s my mama’s tonic when I need it?
Ah . . . yes . . . you are a
dear. Ah am ever in your debt . . . Didn’t Ah tell you to go sit down?
Don’t argue. Just do as you’re told, sweetheart.
Oh, dearie me. What is this
world comin’ to? Ah don’t even want to think for one tiny moment about
what you mean by reality. Without a doubt you go so far as to mention .
. . gasp . . . people’s limbs! Perhaps even . . .
Ah can hardly speak the word . . . unmentionables. And more than likely
you even describe intimate and personal behaviors that are meant to be
left behind closed doors with the curtains drawn and the lights out.
What are you thinking’, you hussy?! And you want to drag our minds in
the dirt along with yours. Shameful!
For your information, those
sainted editors who have rejected your manuscript represent the last
bastions of modesty and decorum. Real life, indeed! No person with a
shred of self-respect and honor would ever consider actin’ like a
beast, much less readin’ about it. If unpleasant things unfortunately
happen, believe me, everybody concerned will benefit from just leavin’
the subject alone. Nothin’ good
can come from stirrin’ up the blood unnecessarily. Remember the
Scripture’s admonishment to dwell only on
those things that are true, honorable, pure, and lovely, and leave real
life right where it is: out of sight. Why, we Christians are the only
ones privileged to exist in a world of unadulterated idealism, so let’s
just enjoy it, shall we?
Now that my blood has been
stirred up, it’s high time that Ah return to mah chambers for some
refreshment. Next month we’ll consider what you should do if your
publisher insists on putting the purple monstrosity cover on your book.
As if there’s anythin’ you could do about it, darlin’. Perhaps a sip of
Mama’s tonic would calm your nerves, but, alas, there simply isn’t
enough for both of us.
As everyone who has
not been dwelling under a rock for the past half century knows full
well, Jan Flanders is a world-renowned expert on writing, editing, and
publishing fiction. A bona fide member of the landed gentry dating back
to the Jamestown, Virginia, settlement and a magna cum laude graduate
of Ms. Finicky’s Foundational Finishing School of Fiction for Well-Bred
Females (FFFSFWBF), she resides with her three Angora cats in the heart
of the deep South on the plantation, sadly diminished, where she was
born and reared, and which her family has owned since the early 1700s.
God forbid she would ever allow it to fall into the rapacious hands of
any vile Northern carpetbagger! That will happen over her dead body.
She is still mourning the lamentable outcome of the late War of
Northern Aggression, and if you know what is good for you, you would be
well-advised not to bring up the subject unless you wish to have your
ears pinned back. Rest assured that if anyone knows etiquette, it is
our own Ms. Flanders, and she is doing you a favor by sharing her
Why are Christian publishers so resistant to publishing edgy stories
that portray real people in the real world?
If your publisher insists on putting the purple monstrosity cover on
your book, what should you do?
do lightweight romance novels dominate the Christian market?
December: Why doesn’t
Christian fiction generate the kind of reader excitement and sales that
Harry Potter does?
wrong with sprinkling adjectives, adverbs, and exclamation points
throughout your manuscript, anyway? Weren’t they invented to be used?