Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone
Writing isn't easy. Even as I write this article, I find myself tapping my fingers on the keyboard in hopes that inspiration will hit, the words will flow through my fingertips, and I'll pen something amazing that will change the life of whoever reads it.
I think that's all that any writer hopes for. We want what we have to say to be meaningful and have an impact. In any piece of writing, be it non-fiction or fiction, there is a lesson to be learned. And in the Christian market, that lesson should glorify God and bring reads closer to Him, whether by sharing scriptures or personal experiences of things the Lord has led us through.
When I tell people that I write Christian paranormal romance, I get some strange looks. Those two genres are usually on polar ends of the writing spectrum. When you hear paranormal romance, you probably think of vampires, werewolves, or shapeshifters. And most of the time, the content of those novels are steamy romance, which is a big no-no in Christian fiction.
I didn't start out writing paranormal romance. Everything I've written up to this point has been your run-of-the-mill Christian love story. But I longed to write something new and different. Something that would stick out from the rest. Therefore, I started thinking about some of my favorite novels, many of which come from the paranormal romance genre. Paranormal romances appeal to me because I enjoy anything fantasy, but I'm also a sucker for a good love story. Put the two together and it's the perfect combination. So I thought, why not write a fantasy love story that could also be inspirational? Not all paranormal romance has to be risqué. It can be clean, sweet, and still glorify God. And through my story, I aimed to do just that.
Writing paranormal romance is fun since you really can write anything you want when it comes to the fantasy aspects. Since it's the world you created, anything can happen in it. However, the challenge is varied: create a believable story within the realm of fantasy, memorable characters, a gentle faith thread that's not in your face, in the hope that the secular readers of this genre might also be intrigued, not create any plot holes that would leave a reader scratching their heads, and to cover every question that might arise within the mind of the reader.
Writing paranormal romance for the Christian market is even more challenging. The trick is to not write anything that is considered blasphemous or goes against God's teachings. One such facet I had to be careful with was the way I depicted my paranormal character. My original thought was for him to have the qualities and abilities of an angel, yet having other talents as well. So as not to step on any toes, I created a character with a completely different title. I also worried believers would be offended by the relationship that blossoms between the protagonist and the paranormal character. However, just as in any Christian romance, I made sure to keep the relationship pure.
One of the main reasons I decided to write this story is because paranormal romance has such a large following, and I hoped that if a non-believer picked it up they would catch on to some of the subtler spiritual themes and start asking questions. What better way to witness than through a novel?
What I've learned from writing my first paranormal romance, Unbroken Spirit, certainly a genre that's different than I'm used to, is that it's okay to push yourself and step out of your comfort zone. You can branch out and try writing in another genre to see if it's your niche. If it isn't, then move on to another genre and see if you flourish in that one.
I have found that writing in the genre that you enjoy reading the most, is where you tend to be the strongest, because you're familiar with the characteristics of that genre and what readers like. Let your imagination soar. Think of a story that you would want to read, and write it. Don't let someone tell you it's impossible. Anybody can be a writer, because everybody has something to say. Sure, it might never get published, but the true joy is in following what we're called to do, and doing it. So get out there and write it. You never know who may need to hear it. That's what I did with this first book in my Mystic Hope series, and I'm so excited to see where God takes it after it releases the first of August!
Original article featured on Christian Fiction Online Magazine