Clean Fiction · Fantasy Fiction · Fiction Writing · Noblebright

Why I Write Clean Fiction
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I’ve been asked a few times about my commitment to writing clean fiction. As a dad, an educator, and a Christian, my values and standards are set high for what I allow my own children to ingest. Why? Because media influences us. What we see, hear, and read shapes our view of the world. It conjures questions that may be difficult to answer or understand by younger children. My commitment to writing clean fiction is to protect my children from being unduly influenced and empower parents in guiding their children into adulthood.

The Veil Saga is written to be read by middle-school-aged children and up. It contains references to suicide, violence, torture, and mild flirting. Part of my author platform is to let parents know about sensitive issues before they read my books, and also provide them with discussion points and questions to help families tackle these topics together.

You won’t find profanity, gratuitous violence, or sexual references and innuendo in the Veil Saga. Why? Several reasons. Foremost, the research tells us that most readers of fantasy fiction are not reading because of the sex or violence. They want a compelling character-driven story, and an excellent writer can serve that up without detailing sex scenes or using profanity. “Sex sells” is a misnomer. Countless research studies have been done on this topic.

Profanity on the other hand is more of a personal choice. I admire authors like Brandon Sanderson, who write clean fiction, and yet do not gloss over humanity’s penchant for darkness. Phrases like “he cursed” or “she profaned” are more than adequate ways of telling the reader that the characters are using inappropriate words. Readers and writers understand the power of words. Phrases and sentences can carry a weight and meaning that invokes specific feelings and responses. Curse words and vulgar phrases have a power that we have given them over the centuries. And although they may be commonplace in our society and culture, I want my children to understand that we must choose our words carefully. The Bible tells us that words have the power of life and death. We are taught that we should not let any unwholesome words come from our mouth and that our words should be used to lift one another up and not tear each other down. Therefore, I must also model this practice in my actions and my writing.

This is why I have chosen to write clean fiction.

5 thoughts on “Why I Write Clean Fiction

  1. This is a well thought-out articulation of why clean fantasy is so important. Nice!

    You wrote, “Part of my author platform is to let parents know about sensitive issues before they read my books, and also provide them with discussion points and questions to help families tackle these topics together.”

    I was going to ask about how we guide people through more difficult topics—on the one hand, clean fiction means no (direct) mention of those topics, whether they are handled well or not. On the other hand, we have a responsibility as Christians to speak to difficult topics, even if those topics are not clean—as otherwise the only voice the world hears on those topics comes from darkened minds.

    The solution Sanderson uses of “he cursed” or “she profaned” isn’t really going to work for maneuvering other “non-clean” subjects. What do you do with rape? Or being tortured to the point of insanity? Or even something that is not evil in itself, like sexual desire? In exploring those situations, a legitimate and God-honoring book would not fall under the title of “clean.” What do you think the role is for that kind of fiction versus clean fiction?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ian! Excellent questions. My plan is to let parents know what subjects are covered in my books. For each book I write, I’m planning on releasing a “Parent’s Guide” and a “Teacher’s Guide”. For Christian parents, there will be talking points that may include Biblical references.
      One of my favorites quotes is by C.S. Lewis. He said: “The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.” As Christians, I don’t think we can run from or hide sin. Sin is real and needs to be addressed. My interpretation of “Clean Fiction” is not-sin free fiction, but fiction that addresses sin and the proper way we should act when faced with sin or when we messed up and need to repent. I interpreted “Clean Fiction” as stories that don’t highlight or glorify sin. This goes back to the reason I plan on having disclaimers for parents on the book and the discussion points. If you have a story about rape, you wouldn’t include the rape scene. You’d explore the aftermath. Would it be considered clean? Maybe not. But could you write a story on the aftermath of rape and how God turns ashes into something beautiful? Maybe. That’s a tough topic to discuss and to write about.
      The Veil Saga deals with the collateral damage of suicide. But I don’t detail the suicide scene. What is detailed is how those left behind deal with the loss and the guilt.

      Liked by 2 people

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