It’s inarguable that the Beatles are one of the greatest bands in rock-and-roll history. They’ve sold 178 million albums in the US alone and this number continues to grow as they are still selling today. In fact they were recently honored with another thirteen platinum and gold records. The White Album has gone platinum nineteen times over and is considered by some to be the greatest of their works.
These statistics are staggering. Few have had such success in the music industry. So why do I say they had it easy?
I mean no disrespect. I own my fair share of Beatles recordings and grew up listening to Help, Eleanor Rigby, and Yesterday. But at the time of their rise to stardom, rock-and-roll was in its infancy. The sound was new and young. Coming up with something new out of something new isn’t a big feat. Kudos to them for coming up with something new and pleasing to a broad audience. And for years. They had an open door to slip through, but it was their genius that kept them going.
Fast forward to 1970 and Black Sabbath hit with their new sound of heavy metal. It was an extension of rock-and-roll and yet not. See after the Beatles, the sound changed. Some stayed with the old ways and others went to new sounds. Black Sabbath paved the way for others still. Today my son comes in and talks about Industrial Metal, Techno-metal, and other branches of this sub-genre of ‘metal’ music. But it all started with those four guys from Liverpool.
What does this have to do with writing? More than you might think. I hear readers and reviewers all the time complain when a writer breaks the rules. Christian fiction shouldn’t have sex, cursing, or drinking being one of the major grumbles.
Like the Beatles and Black Sabbath, all writers are looking for something new. None of us want to be published and be just another book on the shelves.
But writing didn’t start in the sixties. Nor did any of the genres. People have been writing books of all sorts for thousands of years. Yes, it’s true. There’s nothing new under the sun, but still we try. Yet there was a time when an idea was new or at the very least fresh. When I started writing romance, I had a smart-mouthed heroine and a conservative, red-haired hero with freckles! Keep in mind this was twenty years ago. No one had done that. At least not to my knowledge. I felt like I was on the cutting edge. But these days, that edge is getting wide enough to build a house on. Not so edgy anymore.
In the last few years we have seen the rise of ‘urban fantasy romance,’ shape-shifters, Amish, Christian speculative, and a host of other attempts at something different. But in order to be innovative, rules have to be broken. When some rules are broken it completely changes the genre. Romances must have a happy ending. If they don’t, they fall into love stories. Even Nicholas Sparks will tell you that he doesn’t write romance. But more on that in another blog post.
So why can a writer break some rules and not others and still be in the same genre. I’m not quite sure. Some things just are. Like romances end happy, cozy mysteries aren’t bloody and graphic, and in mainstream fiction anything can happen.
To say Christian fiction is such a broad term. Can it be considered a genre? Well, what is genre? Dictionary. com lists it as a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like. (see the complete definition HERE.) Unfortunately, books aren’t divided like plants and animals. There’s no kingdom, phylum, or class to go along with genre. That leaves the reader floundering, trying to determine what books they might like. This is even harder if you want to only read clean fiction. (More on that later.)
Combine this lack of definition with the writer’s strive for something new and different and a lot of times you will end up with a dissatisfied, and maybe even offended, reader.
You might not like it, but please respect the author for their originality. Or at the very least for giving it a go. It takes a lot of false bravado or true bravery to put a book out for the world. Like the tone-deaf contestant on American Idol, some feel their work is fantastic when it needs a complete overhaul, but most put something out and hope and pray that it doesn’t get ripped to shreds. I wonder if the Beatles had their doubts. It seems unlikely now so many years and platinum albums later, but I bet they did.
What about you? Do you want to read something fresh and new or are you happy with status quo? No answer is wrong. Feel free to comment, but as always be kindful to others, their feelings, and opinions. Spread JOY.
Everyone who comments will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Amish Brides. *
The winner will be announced Friday August 25, 2017, on the next blog. Comments will be taken until midnight EDT Thursday August 24, 2017.
Thanks for reading!
*If you already have a copy of Amish Brides, be sure to still leave a comment. If you are fortunate enough to have your name drawn, I have plenty of other titles to share.