November 09, 2008

Square Pegs Don't Fit In Round Holes

masked words I've had a very long weekend of sickness in my house. Since I completed my assignments earlier in the week, I decided this was the perfect opportunity for me to catch up on some reading.

Lately I've been trying to break out of the box and broaden my horizons. During my last few trips to the public library, I've chosen books I normally would have passed. I still have my personal boundaries of what I will and won't read, but aside from those stipulations, I've been breaking out of the typical genres I read.

Writers can learn a lot from reading other writers. You pick up on things like characterization, showing vs. telling, and POV tactics. It's kind of fun to read something different because I've been learning a lot.

Among my choices this weekend was a novel that is categorized as an inspirational romance. I assumed this meant that the book would have a solid story with a Christian theme intertwined. What I found was a big surprise and a bit of a letdown.

Just a few pages into the first chapter, I immediately began feeling uncomfortable. While the writing itself was good, the language and imagery borderline on seductive and sensual. I'm no prude by any means, but when I pick up a book with the expectation that I'll be reading an inspirational (Christian) romance and feel like I've stepped into an erotic tale, it disturbs me. The further I read, the more sensual the writing became.

I stopped mid-way into the second chapter. Frankly, I can't honestly say if I'll even finish reading the book. I'm puzzled. Did the publisher/editor think more copies would sell if the writing contained more sexual tension? Does the author believe this is inspirational romance? Why doesn't the publisher/editor place this writer in a more appropriate category line? Do Christian writers today think it's acceptable to write and publish "Christian romance" novels that are filled with sexually charged scenes?

I'm well-read a large variety of genres. Some I don't care for, others I enjoy more. The point I'm trying to make here is that when a person buys a book, based on a specific category the book is placed in, that reader should be able to open the book and read with confidence, knowing that s/he won't be blushing and squirming in their seat five pages into the book.

If you read or write inspirational romance for the Christian market, what are your thoughts on this? I personally believe square pegs don't--and shouldn't--fit into round holes.