Jan Flanders

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 before creation. God forbid she would ever allow it to fall into the rapacious hands of any vile Northern carpetbagger! Rest assured that will happen over her cold, 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 roundly pinned back. If anyone knows etiquette, it is our own dear Ms. Flanders, and she is doing you a favor by sharing her expertise with the likes of you, so be certain to keep to your place. If you do not demonstrate proper gratitude and humility, she is likely to give you a brisk rap on the knuckles, or some other especially tender body part, with her ruler to get your attention and ensure your compliance.

Fiction Etiquette with a Southern Twist Twisted Southern

A very happy autumn to all you eager young fiction devotees! Isn’t the air bracin’ this mornin’? Doesn’t it just make you want caper with abandon and fling yourself into a pile of those pretty fallen leaves like you did when you were a little ’un? Ah don’t know about you, but your darlin’ Ms. Flanders has plans after class is ovah!

Now that school is finally back in session, Ah trust that y’all are champin’ at the bit to get back to the contemplation of the Sacred Laws of Fiction Etiquette. Let’s jump into today’s business with both feet, so to speak, so Ah can head out back of the barn for a restorative draught from the sti—er, spring!

The letter, please, darlin’. And don’t be draggin’ your feet or Ah shall be forced to provide the motivation you seem to lack, missy.

Dear Ms. Flanders,

I am a writer of some repute, and many of my colleagues are writing—horror of horrors—fiction. I can’t conceive they are doing anything other than telling lies and profiting from it! I ask you, is it ever proper for a Christian to write—and sell—stories that aren’t true? I mean, isn’t Christ the way, the truth, and the life? How can there possibly be a place for fiction in the Christian market? What kind of Christian devotes precious time to perusing falsehood—indeed revels in it? Isn’t that a contradiction of our calling to be witnesses to the truth?

Abundantly S. Righteous

Dear Ms. Righteous,

Ah do presume you nevah, evah watch TV or movies, do you, honey? Ahem! Do you mean to accuse our precious Lord and Savior of bein’ a liar? The Scriptures tell us that Jesus always taught the people by tellin’ stories, and he was God in the flesh, wasn’t he? Or, perhaps, you think every one of those charmin’ tales recorded in the Gospels was absolutely factual in every detail.

Seems to me the Bible you claim to revere includes stories as well as history and poetry and prophecy. Why, it’s a veritable treasure trove of genres! Seems to me also, baby doll, that Jesus himself told his disciples not to judge others, and that while man looks on the outward appearance, God looks on the heart. So unless you can see into the hearts of your fellow writers and know exactly how the Holy Spirit is leadin’ them or workin’ in the lives of their readers, sweetheart, Ah would advise extreme caution in usurpin’ the Throne that belongs to the Almighty.

Well now, didn’t that just shut her mouth? Ah am just tooooo good for mah own good!

Does it seem a mite warm in here, chillen? No? Perhaps Ah am simply havin’ one of those power surges ladies of my mature years are subject to on occasion. Ah know just the remedy to set me to rights—a long swig of that energizing sweet water from the spring out yonder.

Y’all behave yourselves, now, and I’ll see you next month for more discussion of the Sacred Laws of Fiction Etiquette!

Upcoming Topics


October: Stories about demons seem to be steadily growing in popularity. On the other hand, so are stories about the Amish. What gives?