Monday, June 15, 2009

Should Christians Enjoy Fantasy?

I taught a workshop on writing fantasy last year at a conference. I opened up for questions at the end and got hit with a biggie. A woman asked if Christians should be writing or enjoying fantasy as the Bible teaches us to avoid sorcery, fortune telling and other such dark arts. She was genuine in asking as she wanted to write fantasy and but felt troubled. I find this a fascinating topic since I’ve always enjoyed fantasy and never had a doubt of whether I should or not.

I believe great truths can be told in a good story. Jesus Himself, told stories, many with fantastic elements, like a camel going through the eye of a needle (Matt. 19:24) or the vision between heaven and hell (Luke 16:19-26.)

I also think there’s a difference between using magic and wizards and sorcery to move the plot along and glorifying the practice of them. As Christian writers, we must be on guard so we don’t make the dark arts appealing to our readers. But a good fantasy includes these things. There has to be something for the hero to fight against.

So, let’s talk about this. What are your thoughts? Examples? Reasons? Let’s get some good discussion going!

74 comments:

  1. Growing up as a kid I was a HUGE fan of the "fantasy" genre specifically a game with the initials D&D...lol The genre is fascinating but it is also a matter of putting things into perspective. I hope that one would be secure enough in their faith in Jesus Christ that a good ole fashion stress relieving story in the fantasy genre wouldn't be a problem. The current evils I see bestowed upon men, women, and children EVERY day pale in comparrison to a choice of genre writing or reading. I do agree that a game such as D&D is truly evil and drawn upon from the darkness of man whereas the fantasy genre can be a great thing whilst providing a story line that parallels something spiritual or biblical in nature. The bottom line is it comes down to the individual and their faith.

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  2. I always loved fantasy, too. As I think back, I can pinpoint it to my dad and his love of adventure movies like Sinbad. Remember the ones with the special effects by Ray Harryhausen?

    Yes, Glenn, it comes down to the individual and their faith. And be conscious of not glorifying evil when we include it in our manuscripts - whether we write fantasy or not.

    But what about not making a brother stumble? Where does that fit in with writing fantasy and including dark things? Anyone?

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  3. I read SF and to a lesser extent Fantasy as a kid. I became a Christian only after that. At first I had trouble with it because of associations with the old self, but eventually read fantasies by Lewis, Tolkien, etc. I agree with you, Pam, it is how it is used that is most important. We need to face up to the evil in the world, and in fantasy novels that evil is symbolized by the demons, etc. But I haven't read much Christian fantasy lately because it is hard to find and often of poor quality. It often seems to be just take offs of the afore mentioned authors. To me a good Christian fantasy would have a message applicable to real life, like Jesus' parables did.

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  4. I enjoyed Bryan Davis's series, "Dragons In Our Midst" and Donita Paul's "Dragonspell." So you see we have two Christian authors writing about dragons. Me, I'm working to be known as the "Fairy Lady" as all my books so far have fairies in them. But my fairies have a twist - not your normal, everyday fairies - which I'm hoping will help get me published.

    I also enjoy Frank Peretti, Sigmund Brouwer, Robert Elmer and Kathy Mackel. All write some kind of speculative fiction. Oh, and Randy Ingermanson has a couple of great sci-fi/futuristic books and a series about time-travel. I'll have us list book titles next week.

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  5. I just wrote a long comment, but it wouldn't post. So it's gone.

    But I have a post at my blog that relates to this, about myth and symbolism: http://christinescottage.blogspot.com/2009/01/on-symbolism.html

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  6. P.S. I don't know where the line is with "not making a brother stumble." I think that everyone has to know their own limit, and we can only judge by our own weaknesses in any area, and by the leading of the Lord that we serve. Certainly I have been warned away from certain things by the Holy Spirit, which later were permissible for me when I was more mature, or at a different point in my life (i.e. married).

    Everyone must have their own discernment.

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  7. I went into HELP and did what they said, so hopefully, the problems with leaving comments is fixed.

    I agree, Christine, you have a good point about maturity. If we know we're making someone stumble in their faith, we have the responsibility to help our brother or sister. BUT when writing a novel, we don't know who is going to read it. We must write according to our conscience. I was thinking more on the lines of writing in such a way that the dark arts the Bible tells us to stay away from are not glorified.

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  8. Writing/talking about sorcery and practicing it are two very different things, in my opinion. There is a lot more to fantasy than just dark arts. And I agree with many of the posters, that a lot of it boils down to maturity. We are created in the image of God. That means we are just as creative as he is. If we use that creativity to promote the Gospel and his principles and glorify God, the greater reach we can have among those who don't profess Christ. ALL things can be perverted. If through our fantasy, we show to a lost world that good triumphs over evil and bring them the love of Christ through our message, then how is it any different from showing them the same things via a western or a mystery or romance?

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  9. Replies
    1. and again... AMEN! with regards to writing in ALL genres.

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  10. Pastor Bob ~

    When you said "a lot of Christian fantasy is take-offs" on Tolkein and Lewis, can you elaborate a little? The only other Christian fantasy I've read is Frank Peretti's "This Present Darkness" series. I'd like to read more Christian fiction but I can't afford to buy it and it's not usually in our library.

    It's my understanding, from hanging around secular writing websites, that a lot of secular fantasy has the same problem. I've heard that this is because Tolkein basically defined the genre for the modern reader.

    I admit that I'm going for a Tolkein-like feel for my book, but it's not at all a take-off. The plot and characters are totally different, even a different race than men, elves, or dwarves, with their own (partial) language. I made the languate up to help me create consistent-sounding place and character names.

    Anyway, a couple of readers have commented that it does have a Tolkein-like feeling to it, which I take as a compliment.

    After all, I think half the reading public would like to live in Middle Earth. Personally, I think Narnia is less dangerous!

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    1. I'm a christian and am a HUGE lover of any type of fantasy both christian and non. Thankfully I've never really had any limits on what type of fantasy I can and cannot read or watch-except for one. The Golden Compass series is the only fantasy that my parents have quite STRICTLY forbidden me to ever read or see, because of the fact that they kill God in the end of the story. Now THAT I can understand.

      But other than that, I'm allowed to read and watch any fantasy series I want aka Harry Potter, Twilight, Eragon series, Dragon Spell, the Warriors cat series, the Inkheart series,Narnia, The Gaurdians of Ga'hoole, ect. The same goes for T. V. shows and movies. My parents have always been very liniant with me when it comes to fantasy books and movies, thankfully. I'm allowed to read and watch whatever I want when it comes to fantasy as long as I believe that it's just FANTASY and none of it's REAL! And of course as long as I'm sure it hasn't dented my faith in God, which I don't believe it has.

      But I do think that it's different for every child and some parents who think their child could easily be completely driven away from God just by what they read or see should probably be more careful-especially if the child is really young and dosen't yet know the diffferneces between fantasy and reality.

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  11. P.S. I highly recommend "Looking for God in Harry Potter" by John Granger (no relation to Hermione) to anyone struggling with the fantasy/sorcery issue for Christians.

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  12. P.P.S. I don't have a copy with me to quote from, but for example, he describes the difference between sorcery and magic, and how these different types are used by the heroes/villians. For example, divination (which is prohibited by the Bible) is portrayed as a silly, useless art. The bad guys summon spirits or forces (which is sorcery), while the good guys don't.

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  13. I was thinking about what Bob said regarding a message applicable to real life, like Jesus' parables and writing fantasy. I agree, to a point. Fantasy is fantasy. It's not supposed to be "real." But inspirational books should have a message. A theme. Something the reader can take away.

    I'll bring up this topic for future discussion because I think it's something worth talking about.

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  14. Isn't that true of any book, though? Every book needs a theme to tie it together, and some kind of universal message, don't you think?

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  15. Yes, I think so. Especially if we want our books to stand the test of time, like Tolkien, Peretti or Brooks.

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  16. In reply to Christine:

    I can't cite any specific negative examples because I have chosen to forget them. There are wider worlds for fantasy out there than elves, dwarves, and the like.
    Stephen Lawhead did several novels that went in different directions, until he got to the Authurian legends. Lewis created a whole new fantasy world based on animals, and a sci fi world in his space trilogy that were very different from Tolkien.
    While I have problems with Harry Potter because it separates good from God, which I don't think you really can do, it does create a new mythic world (the magic school).
    It occurs to me, I should have included Revelation based novels, including the "Left Behind" series, as things that have been done before, and better. Paretti doesn't interest me (not my kind of fantasy), but it is much better done.
    I think a Christian fantasy novelist would do well to work on creating a new world or
    setting rather than just using Tolkien's or the like. Write a detailed description of it for yourself until the world itself is interesting and at least somewhat new.

    On what is Biblically acceptable: Divination, necromancy, and sorcery are all included in the Hebrew words used in the OT of things forbidden. Don't get too stuck on English translations. And consider the spirit of what is forbidden. I don't want us to be legalists, but legalism cuts two ways. People legalistically try to find loopholes for things that are wrong. And people limit what they do legalistically.

    We should be seeking the good in God. If what we read and write does that, it is of the Spirit. If not...

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  17. I've been an avid SciFi and Fantasy reader since my High School days. I've also played D&D since then. I remember once in collage we were having a discussion about whether playing D&D was evil. One of the guys in the group told us, "Once my parents were giving me a hard time about play D&D. They said that I was worshiping the Devil by playing. I told them, 'I don't worship devils, I kill them.'"

    I think D&D, like all fantasy, isn't inherently evil. It is how you use it that maters. Now I'll grant that perhaps D&D is more like a loaded gun, and it easier to get pulled off into the dirt than a game like Monopoly, but them maybe Monopoly is a bad comparison.

    When my kids wanted to start playing, I offered to be their DM. It gave me a way to connect with my kids, watch them to make sure the game wasn't leading them places that I didn't want them to go, and it gave me a chance to put some lessons in front of them.

    One in particular stands out. We were starting a new game, and the kids had all made their characters. The characters were hanging around town looking for something to do. A woman runs into town, obviously very upset, and asked if anyone could help her. The characters said yes. She told them that her husband, a lumberjack, was three days late coming back from the woods. Would they go look for him.

    Several things happen along the way, but eventual they find the lumberjacks camp, but no lumber jack. They discover wagon tracks, and follow them. After a few days the catch up to the wagon and discover that it belongs to dark elves, and that the lumberjack, a couple other people and a few monsters are being taken away as slaves.

    So now they have to decide what to do. The decide that there are to many dark elves and that fighting them would be a bad idea. They talk about just leaving, but some of them want to succeed at the rescue. A couple of the characters decide to go talk to the slavers and discover that the lumberjack is for sale.

    This is where the group dynamics really got interesting and some of the kids had their eyes opened. A discussion between the characters, and between the kids, developed talking about wether it was good to pay the salvers for the lumberjack. Some of the kids thought that saving his life was work any price. Others thought that paying the slavers was morally wrong. After ten minutes of talking the discussion ended with five kids wanting to pay and two saying no. The five said they they were going to vote on it, and of corse won the vote. But the two refused to put up their part of the ransom.

    Two of the five then started threatening the two, even threatening to kill them if they would not help pay. After another ten minutes of talking another one of the five offered to pay the shares of the two characters who didn't want to pay. And so they collected the money, paid the slavers, and returned the lumberjack to his wife. The lumberjack paid them back the money they had spent to get him out plus a reward. The party decided to give the two characters they part of the reward, even though they didn't put any money in. The two layers then gave their shares back to the lumberjack and wished him well.

    At the end of such adventures the DM give out points for the monsters killed and for playing well. The kids were surprised and pleased when the two characters who wouldn't pay, got extra experience for sticking up for what they believed. Which of course launched them into another ten minute discussion about the rewards for doing what's right, and not just doing what's fun.

    For me, and I believe for the kids too, it was a very satisfying experience to wrestle with each other about right and wrong, and why we do right. An I don't think I could have ever had that discussion with these seven kids if I hadn't been able to take them out of their day to day lives and put them into a fantasy world, where I could ask the questions, "Why would your character do that."

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  18. WOOHOO! I FIGURED OUT HOW TO POST FINALLY!

    Read this article from this year's batch of Amy Award winners and had to share. It's the best article I've read all year on the subject. He quotes Lewis, MacDonald & Chesterton. It's called "OK Virginia, there's no Santa Claus, but there IS God"...

    http://www.amyfound.org/amy_writing_awards/writings/09Woodlief.html

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  19. Douglas, I've never played D&D. I had no idea the game was so complicated! I can't imagine how something like that would work, but no wonder it was so addictive for my generation.

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  20. It is like one of those story games where everyone gets to write a line. You have to have good players, but in the end, it all comes down to the person who is running the game.

    Each player in the game plays one character. The person running the game comes up with the story, plays everyone else in the game and figures out what happens when the players try to do things.

    I've written about how some times the characters in a story seem to be writing the story instead of the other, ( http://ascoutis.org/douglasgclarke/wordpress/?p=18 ) Well running a role playing game is very much like that, but you loose even more control.

    The goal is first and for most to make sure the players are having fun. Second is to tell a good story, since that is more fun for the players. And third, at least for me, is to make the players think abut why they are having there characters do certain things. I think getting people to be able to evaluate why there characters would do something, teaches them the skills needed so they can look at why they are doing things in their real lives.

    By the way, there are hundreds of role playing games, D&D is just the most talked about. There are fantasy games, scifi games, secret agent games, cowboys games and there is at least one, and probably more, biblical games.

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  21. Fascinating. Actually, it sounds a lot like the Come In Character website that has been taking up so much of my time the past couple of months. comeincharacter.blogspot.com. I've posted as about eight different characters from my books, and had to pull some off the site because they were changing as a result of interacting with other characters in a context outside of the novel.

    It's really fun, and we get into whole complex things some days... arguments, flirtations, etc. Monday the whole crew picked up and went to the beach near LA where some of the characters live, on the spur of the moment.

    So I guess CIC is a kind of role-playing game. Phew! I thought there was something wrong with me. Now I know I'm not the only one. ;P

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  22. My favorite on this topic is Madeleine L'Engle. Her fantasies for children are incredible. Her book Walking on Water is a great resource for writers, particularly in the arena of myth being a wonderful avenue to elucidate truth.

    Pam Amlung
    author who hopes to publish novels someday!

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  23. thank you pam, your story was very helpful. im only twelve years old, im a christian twelve year old and ive written a 200 page fantasy book. and i was trouble whether the book named "moe" should be allowable for me. thank you for the clarification.

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  24. Anonymous - I hope you'll check in often and take part in our discussions. It will help you with your writing, especially since you are only 12-years-old.

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  25. How do most of you plan your new works? Development of the world, character's etc. Or is the plot/theme a better starting point? I want to write at least one novel in the fantasy genre for my children, and the youth group I lead at church. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

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  26. How do most of you plan your new works? Development of the world, character's etc. Or is the plot/theme a better starting point? I want to write at least one novel in the fantasy genre for my children, and the youth group I lead at church. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

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  27. hi Lambo - you have a good question. There's no hard and fast rule. It depends on how the idea comes to you. I've had some story ideas that started with a character/s and some that have started with a plot idea.

    We've gone through The Hero's Journey here, so please check out the archives for that. It will help you a lot. I hope you'll come back and visit often!

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  28. Hi Pam,

    I have been hit by the writing bug and have written over 40K words already in the past 5 weeks. My storyline involves around a 2-Deity world where the heroes are either allied with or directly serve the good deity and the foes serve the evil deity. In speaking with my wife and other Christians they don't seem to have an issue with the idea of clerical magic, since it is of supernatural origin and the evil is not glorified. (ie. The good characters pray for powerful effects to dispel evil/darkness and the evil characters, though using powerful 'dark gifts' are portrayed clearly as morally deficit.)

    Apparently the dilemma revolves around my title character who uses 'arcane' magic. I use the concept of spellcasting but with no reference to a spiritual origin. It is described as more of a science to manipulate an unseen fabric of their world. I am not setting out to be the next CS Lewis, but I do intend on glorifying the good and will make many inferences to the spiritual conflicts and moral decisions.

    I guess I am not sure what my questions really are. Lol. Can you guys pray for me that I will be able to shape this story into something edifying for the Lord? Thanks!

    I plan on publishing this series as e-books.

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  29. hi Neal - yes, the use of "magic" is always a sore spot with many Christians. No one seems to have a problem with Gandalf, though. :)

    I hope you'll go through the archives here. I went through The Hero's Journey last year. It was good.

    Thanks for stopping by! I hope you'll participate more often. I wish you all the best with your writing! Let us know how it's going.

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  30. Thanks Pam! Galdalf was an Astari, an type of angel, so I hear:-) I am reworking my story now to change the nature of my protagonists abilities. His abilities only seem 'magical' but are something else... 'Arcane magic' will be the domain of self-serving godless or evil god worshiping people and clerics/priests will only receive blessings/gifts through prayer etc.

    If you are interested you can follow my blog. thoughtmage.blogspot.com

    God bless!

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  31. I'm a Christian currently writing a fantasy novel, that includes fairies (yey!), and I found this post and discussion really helpful.

    I have grown up with little worry about fantasy conflicting with my faith, until recently where I've come across more and more debates about it. I am praying about my work, as well as discussing it with trusted Christian friends, but it's helpful to see that there are other Christians out there also pondering these issues, thanks!

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  32. Fire Fairy - it's entirely appropriate I read this on Thanksgiving. I'm so thankful I could help and encourage you! I hope you'll check in often. pam <><

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  33. My whole life I've always had a love of fantasy. All types of fantasy both christian and non-christian. I don't believe any of the fantasy that I read has at all dented my faith, but that might be different for everyone. Some might be more easily tempted than others. I've read on the internet that alot of christian parents are worried about their children reading the warriors cat series because of some spiritual elements in the books. But I don't believe that parents should ban the books from their children just because of that. You just need to explain to them that it's fantasy and it's not real and to remind them to pray every day and go to church on a regular bases. As long as they have a true spiritual teaching every week then the fantasy they read shouldn't be a problem. But this is just my opinion and I agree that every parent should be in control of what they want their kids to read or watch.

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  34. Fantasy has always been my favorite genere. Fantasy and fanfiction (stories that fans wtite about their favorite charactors from their favorite books aka Twilight) are my favorite things to read. I will not read anything non-fiction because I've always been bored when I try to read those kinds of things.But give me a well-written and popular fantasy book and I'll eat up it like a bag of candy.

    One of my favorites is the Warriors cat series. I love talking-animal books and movies. They've always fasinated me ever since I was a child. Right now I'm working on writing a fantasy-animal full-length novel for children that I hope to get published. Before you ask-yes the animlas DO talk and I love it!Is it christian, you ask? No. Dose it contain magic? To some degree,yes. But it's an extrmemely limited form of magic. It only happens in a couple of chapters and then that's it.There's no more for the rest of the book.

    You may be wondering what kind of animals are in my fantasy novel? Well-that's a secret! Sorry,but my lips are zipped!I really hope to get my book published someday!

    Ever since I started writing at age 10, I've always had a fasination for talking-animal stories and movies starting with the popular children's story Little Bear,then in third grade Charlotte's Web took it's place, then Steuart Little and the list went on until I finally got hooked on the Warriors Cat series which, by the way, is my favorite animal-fantasy series because I love cats!

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  35. I love cats, too. Your book sounds like fun. I wish you all the best with it!

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  36. Thank you so much for your comment on my book!It's coming along pretty well so far, though at the moment I'm only on chapter seven. I've had a bit of writer's block with it, but thankfully nothing too bad recently.

    Like I mentioned in my last post, it's a full-length novel. I'm only on chapter seven so far and there will be twenty-nine cahpters when I'm done. Thirty if you count the Epilogue, so I've got a little ways to go before I reach the end.

    But I'm having a blast writing it and I hope to eventually get it published!

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  37. Hi Pam,

    I just wanted to thank you for posing this question and for the discussion here. I have been struggling with this question for months...I would be fine with it for a while, and then be troubled about it again. I am writing Christian Fantasy, but I had a problem with magic being used. What I have learned here has helped me a lot. Thank you. I have learned (the hard way) to pray before writing, and that has helped me considerably, but finding this blog here has helped even more. I'll be back. God bless you.

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    1. hi Michelle - I'm so glad you found us! I haven't posted anything new in a while because I'm having trouble with google, but please check out the archives. I'm working on the problem and hope to be back blogging soon!

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  38. I have absolutely no problem with magic being used in fantasy. After all it really can't be called fantasy without a little magic. My fantasy-animal story that I mentioned four posts above has a bit of magic in it. Nothing to the extreme of course, but magic is part of what makes fantasy exciting, especially for kids. Kids love to imagine being able to shoot lasers from their eyes or make themselves invisible!

    I sometimes wish I could do stuff like that! I think it would be cool to make yourself invisivlble or camofloge yourself into a tree or a brick wall or even better be a shape-shifter! (A person who can take the form of anything he/she wishes.) If I were a shape-shifter I'd love to take the form of a cat as they're my favorite animals. Hey, I could write a story about that! A girl who can shape-shift into a cat! That would be an interesting story-line don't you think?

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    1. Yes, it would be an interesting story line. My advice to you is to research and see if anyone else had done it. If not, go at it! If they have, get the book, see how they did it and then give yours a fresh twist.

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  39. Thank you for this post and also many thanks to those that added links to other sites for further reading.
    I think it's a matter of reaping what you sow. If you sow fantacy stories for the pleasure of it, that is what you will reap. If you write a story that gives the reader something to think about and directs him to Jesus or teaches some basic moral story... well you get what I'm saying right? That's the conclusion I came to though. But that's not saying I don't enjoy a good old Cinderella story every now and then.

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    1. I totally agree you reap what you sow. That's why I'm so careful when writing my fantasy. Thanks for stopping by!

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  40. Hi, and I'm sorry to change the subject a little but, I'm a Christian and i LOVE to draw fantasy! I've always wanted to be a part of an artist site where i can post my work. But sites like DeviantArt (if you've heard of it) are very indecent. I've been googling everywhere for christian sites with the same setup as deviantart without the indecency. I was wondering if anyone knew of anything? Thanks!

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  41. I'm not an artist so I've never heard of it. Sorry. I hope you find what you're looking for though! If you still can't find it ask God to help you! Good luck finding what you're looking for!

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  42. Just thought I'd let you all know, about my animal fantasy story I mentioned eleven posts above, it's going great! I submitted the first chapter to my crit. group and everyone loved it! When I first sent it I was a little worried they would hate it because it's about talking-animals and nobody in my crit. group writes that kind of stuff (and I've also read on the internet that a lot of Christians don't like that kind of stuff) so my hair stood on end a little when I first sent it off. But when I got my crits. back everyone said they LOVED IT! HALLELUIA! (Don't know if I spelt that right, I don't write that word very often, so sorry if it's spelt wrong.)

    Anyways everybody loved my first chapter! They even gave me some great critigues that helped make my first chapter better! I was so relieved when everyone gave me good feed-back.

    However, I did get into some serious issues with my second chapter. My mom proof-read it and found some stuff that (her words not mine) were anti-Christian. I was SHOCKED when I heard this! I seriously thought I was going down the right path with my story!

    I argued with my mom for a long time trying to convince her it was fine and that it needed to stay in there the way it was written. She, however, convinced me otherwise.

    The thing that my mom and I argued over was this spirit-animal that I had put in my story which, (in my mind anyway,) was supposed to be a God-like figure. My parents however, convinced me it spoke otherwise and I needed to change it to be more related to God and not a spirit.

    My parents told me that there are people out there who actually do believe in and worship spirits. I, of course, didn't know this.

    The whole time I was writing I thought my spirit animal was a God-like figure and spoke a Christian message but the way I'd written it didn't go that direction.

    The second problem (and without giving too much away, this is still in the second chapter ) was where I introduce this character, I'd written that when the character died, he went to heaven and became a god. MAJOR OOPS! That was NOT intentional I can assure you! It was the first time I've ever gotten bad feed-back on an entire chapter and I thought it was perfect so I was very reluctant to change it.

    A few days after changing it however, I started to really think about what my parents had told me about spirit-worship and how different and evil it is to Christianity and it all finally clicked! I don't regret changing it now, in fact I'm glad I did!

    I hadn't realized while writing, that I was leading kids down the wrong path and that I myself was going down the wrong path but God did and he helped steer me back to His path.

    I know God knows it wasn't intentional, because I though I was doing the right thing but in reality I wasn't. That tells me right there, that the Devil can and will attack you in your writing and you may not even notice it! I didn't notice it until my mom pointed it out!

    I'm glad the Lord corrected me before it got too out of hand and I hope He continues to guide my hands while typing so I don't make a major mistake like that again!

    By the way, because of this, your prayers over my story would be greatly appreciated!

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  43. We've all made mistakes when we're first writing. It's good you had your mom and your group to be a fresh set of eyes for you. I'm also an editor, and I know the importance of someone else taking a look. I also know how hard it is to be critiqued. I tell my clients to read my notes, set the manuscript aside for a week and then read through my notes again. It always helps to do that.

    Of course, it's hard to hear our writing isn't perfect. It's our baby! But if we are wise, we will listen to critique and pray for God to show us what's needed. Hang in there!

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  44. I sent my second chapter of my animal fantasy in to the crit. group this month and at the meeting last Monday, everyone said they still loved my story! I had taken all the spirit words out of the chapter but forgot to take it out of the chapter-title.

    Thankfully though, everyone caught it and crossed it out for me. No one even mentioned it! I am so glad everyone took my second chapter well.

    They all still love my story and said they can't wait to read the third chapter! Yeah!

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  45. Hi, everyone! Just wanted to say happy fourth or should I say, fifth of July! I hope everyone had a great, fun, and safe Independence Day yesterday! Mine wasn't too fun because they canceled all the firework shows in my area! Rats! Stupid dry weather and fire danger!

    Oh, well. I still had some fun. My family had some friends over that we spend each holiday with and we had a big out-door dinner with red, white, and blue plates, cups, table-cloth, ect.

    My favorite part this year was stuffing myself with our special fourth of July dessert, dirt-cake! No, it's not made with real dirt! It's actually a mixture of instant vanella pudding, crushed Oreo cookies, (we put them in a zip-lock bag and pound on them with wooden spoons until all the cookies are soft crumbs and easily resemble dirt,) and cream cheese. I think there's one more ingredient that we put in but I can't remember what it is at the moment.

    It is absolutely DELICIOUS! My number 1# favorite Independence Day dessert!

    Hope everyone's holiday was fun and safe!

    God Bless!

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  46. When Jesus said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, he wasn't saying anything fantastic, he was being completely literal. Camels never ever go through the eyes of needles, and rich people never get into heaven.
    I'm surprised nobody's even mentioned this until now.

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    1. Probably because not everyone believes it to be literal.

      And just update on my fantasy novel: an agent requested a 3 page synopsis and the first 100 pages! Woot!!

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  47. Congrats on catching the interest of an agent for your novel! That's great news for any writer! Hope you get your book published soon!

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  48. Hi everyone! Happy 2014! I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    I'm still working on my animal-fantasy story and I've sent in chapter six. Everyone liked it except that they all thought my "chapter" was more like a "scene" so I've been fixing that. It was three and a half pages long and they all thought it needed more meat, which I agree with. I've just finished it and I hope it's better than the last time, though I won't be getting any more crits. on it until I send the whole story in for a second round of work and that won't be for quite a while yet.

    I'm having a lot of fun writing it and there are a few chapters that I'm just ACHING to submit, but unfortunately I won't be getting to those for a while yet because they're much later in the story, but I have finished writing them.

    Everyone in my crit. group still loves my story and they're always excited for the next chapter. I've had several people say that they think kids, (especially animal-lovers, and lovers of the WARRIORS cat series) will probably love my book. I think that may turn out to be true because everyone in my crit. group loves it. Every time I go to the crit. group the first thing everyone says before they start reading it allowed to the group or give their opinion, is 'I love this story!' It really warms my heart as a writer to know that everyone in my group loves my book despite the fact that they're not animal-fantasy writers themselves (with the exception of my mom and my brother's birth-mom, who are also in the group.) They're both fantasy writers like me, but they don't write about talking-animals. Their fantasies are people fantasies. But that's o. k. with me, because everyone's story is different and everyone has a different style of writing and different interests.

    There are some people in my group that don't write fantasy at all but write other types of fiction and they still love my book.

    One of the things that I think makes it so interesting, is that it has a unique twist which runs through-out the whole book that's never been done before in ANY fantasy book or movie, (that I've seen anyway.)

    I'm hoping that this little unique twist of mine will help catch a publisher's interest once I get to submitting it to a publisher and he/she will want to read more! Of course I'll worry about that once I get to that point which probably won't be for a long while yet.

    I hope you all had a splendid New Year's Eve and I wish you all the best in your writing in this new year of 2014!

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    1. It does feel good when people enjoy our writing, doesn't it? I'm happy to hear you are continuing with your story. Keep going and before you know it, you'll be done!

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  50. Hi everyone!

    Wow! It's been soooo long since I've been on this site! I'm still writing my animal-fantasy book, I'm now writing chapter nineteen. I only have seven more chapters to write and then I'll be done with the book! Even though I know I'll have to send the whole thing through the crit. group again for more editing, it shouldn't take as long, since I will only be critiquing and not writing.

    I've got several other stories running around in my head too, that are just BEGGING to be written. However, one of the stories/series that has been running around in my head for the past three or four months that just won't leave me alone, is a story that one of the women in my crit. group gave me a while back. Now, don't freak out but...the story idea that she gave me was that I should write a children's series about zombies. That's right! Zombies!

    At first I was really grossed-out by the idea, since zombies in general have always given me the creeps and at first I rejected the idea entirely, but then my mom suggested that I write a series about animal-zombies. Once she suggested that, the idea REALLY wouldn't leave me alone and it's still there, in the back of my mind, just BEGGING to be written and when a story begs to be written, it's really hard for me to say no.

    I'm actually considering writing it, but I feel kind of troubled about it, since I know it will most likely get a lot of bad critics from Christians if/when it ever gets published.

    So anyway, if anyone could give me an honest review on weather or not I should consider going ahead with the project or scrap the idea all together, I'd greatly appreciate it.

    Thanks!

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  51. I think you can write about anything you want if you handle it right. If your age group is older, you can get away with animal zombies (have you see Pet Cemetery?) The movie is based on a Stephen King novel. And do some market research to see if there are any other books out there like yours. That way, you'll see if there's a need or how you can make yours fresh and different. It sounds like a unique idea to me! I say, so ahead and start writing and see where it takes you!

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  52. Thanks for the advice! After reading your review, I do feel a little more comfortable about writing it. Yes, my age group will be older, since it will contain zombie elements that may be inappropriate for younger children aka eating brains, body parts falling off, attacking living animals to either eat their brains or change them into zombies, etc.

    I did do some research on zombies, to kind of get an idea of what my story would be like and how my zombies would have to act. Oh, and I did watch a trailer for Pet Cemetery and the trailer ALONE made my skin crawl! Talk about a CREEPY animal movie!

    Granted, I don't think my zombie story will be THAT creepy, considering it will be for children, though the age group will be older than the one that my recent story is being geared towards. I'm not exactly sure what age-group the animal story that I'm writing right now is geared for, but I'm leaning towards six and over. I'll talk with my mom and decide what the actual age group will be when I get to publishing it.

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    1. Hi, everyone. I just realized, after I pressed the post button on my above post, that I forgot say Happy Easter! Can you believe tomorrow is Easter Sunday? I can!

      Happy Easter, everyone! God Bless!

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  53. Hi everyone! Great news! My animal-fantasy story is finally finished! Woo hoo! I finished the last chapter a couple weeks ago. What a relief! I've been working on this story for at least two or three years and it's a big relief to finally have it finished. I just have to submit the last two chapters, (three if you count the Epologue,) to the crit. group and get my crit. back from last month's crit. group and I'll have sent the whole thing through.

    I've just finished planning out the characters for my second book in the series. A lot of the characters will be the same from my first book, but there will be some new ones. It's also going to be a little bit darker than the first one, as well, though the first one is also kind of dark. The reason I think it will be darker than book 1, is because this next book will be from one of the villain's POV's. I have two sets of villains in the first book, one is more evil than the other.

    The REAL evil villains' story will be the darkest book in the whole series, because these villains are REALLY dark. Their story will be the last book in the series. I'm planning on this series being seven books, (like the Harry Potter series, which I've read and love a lot.) I also own all the books and movies.

    Also, in my first book I mentioned God a lot, (although, by a fantasy name that I made up.) This next book and the last book, however, because they are both being written in the villains' POV, I am going to at least try to put the devil in the books by a different name. I'm just experimenting with it. If the crit. group thinks it will seem too dark, scary, and evil by putting the devil in the villains' stories, then I will take it out. The idea came into my head yesterday when I was planning out the characters, so I'm going to experiment with it, and see how it works out.

    I've already got the ending for book two running around in my head, which, if the crit. group lets me keep the devil my novel, will basically be the villains dying from a battle, waking up to find themselves in (my version of hell) and the devil, (in the form of a frightening-looking animal) will come and welcome them to hell. That will be the end of book two.

    If the crit. group lets me keep the ending and the devil in the book, I think it will be a perfect ending to my villain's story. But I'll just have to wait and see.

    Good luck with your writing and God Bless!

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  54. Thanks for the update! Listen to your crit group, but remember, it's your story. Crit groups are not always right. Only you know what your story truly needs. Take what will make the story stronger from their comments, but don't think you have to make all the changes they suggest. And remember, if you are not going to self publish, you'll be making changes with an editor at some point. It's best not to have too many people read your stuff or you'll end up with a Franken-book. :)

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  55. Thanks for the advice! I just finished critiquing my final chapter this week and I think it turned out wonderful! One of the women in my crit. group added onto my ending and the ending was so beautiful that it actually made me cry! In front of everyone none- the-less! I was kind of embarrassed, but if it was good enough to make me cry, then I know it's a good ending. It's not a sad ending, it's a happy ending, but it still had those same effects on me.

    I just have the Epologue to send in and then I will be officially done with the book aside from a few little corrections here and there like the type of font I should be using and little things like that, which my mom will have to help me with.

    I'm really relieved to finally be done with this book and am really excited to start working on book two! Don't get me wrong though, I did enjoy writing this book, but the second one will be even more fun to write than the first!

    Good luck with your writing and God Bless!

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  56. Thanks! I'm kind of brain-dead on how to start the first chapter in my second book at the moment, but hopefully that'll change soon. My mom told me that the first chapter is always the hardest to write and she's right! I struggled with that on my first book, I had to re-write the first chapter more times than I can count! Hopefully book two will be easier to write.

    Good luck with your writing and God Bless!

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  57. Hi everyone! Great news! I just sent the Epologue to my animal-fantasy story into the Crit. Group this month and everyone said they enjoyed it. I'm relieved but at the same time, a little sad to be done with this book, since I've been working on it for three and a half years. I will admit, I cried when I wrote the final words to my last chapter of the story, (not the Epologue.)

    Even though I'm a little sad to be done with this book, that I've been working on for three and a half years, I'm also excited to start my next novel in this series!

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  58. That IS great news! And I totally understand being sad to leave your friends ... because ending a novel is just how that feels. But think - you'll get to make new ones! Have fun getting to know them!

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  59. I am a Christian fantasy writer and I glorify God's word throughout my books. I have been unable to nab an agent as many of them, if they are seeking fantasy clearly state no Christian or spiritual submissions, and those seeking Christian or Spiritual clearly state no fantasy. Agents who are open to Christian Fantasy only want established writers or don't accept non-solicitations. I have read all the books, taken all the expert advice, invested the money, and yes, I have put the time in daily. I only allow strangers to give feedback who are not aware of who the author is, as I use a pseudonym, and thus far the ratings have all been five star. I stay away from the feedback of friends and family. Yet, It seems as if you must be a celebrity or know someone these days to acquire an agent or a publishing deal. It has been quite discouraging, but I refuse to give up. I am inspired to keep going!

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  60. MJ - you need to check out the Realm Makers conference. It's only 4 years old, but it's super fast growing and an excellent conference - the only out there for Christian speculative authors!! www.realmmakers.com

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    1. This year's conference is the end of July.

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  61. Hi everyone! Wow! Can you believe it's March 2016 already? Honestly! Where did 2015 go? The years just seem to be flying by now days, don't they?

    I've been working on book 2 in my animal-fantasy series, I'm now on chapter eleven. Right now I'm just working on the plan-out, I haven't written the actual book yet. But everyone in my crit. group is excited to read it once I start submitting chapters! I can't wait to finish the plan-out so I can start the really fun part! The writing!

    Especially since everyone in my crit. group is basically begging me to submit something! But as badly as I know everyone wants it, I have to remember that I have to write at my own pace. I can't force myself to write if I don't have anything in mind, because that will get me nowhere!

    But all the same I can't wait to start really writing this book!

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    1. Hi everyone! I just realized I forgot to mention some really exciting news! I'm going to see Toby Mac on March 18 with my brother at the Denver Coliseum! I can't wait! I love Toby mac and I can't wait to see him live in concert! I can't wait to jam out to all his music aka Jesus Freak, Funky Jesus, This Is Not A Test, and etc. If you haven't hear any of these WASOME Toby Mac songs, I suggest you listen to them on youtube! These songs really rock your socks off! Literally! God Bless!

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  62. Hi, everyone! It's been a very long time since I've been on here! I've been working on the second book to my animal fantasy series and it's coming along slowly, because I have all this studying on the animals that I have to do in order to write a good book. I had to do this with the last book, too.

    I also had to resubmit a few chapters of the first book, because I felt they needed more work and that has also slowed down the process of book 2. But I need to make the first book as good as possible if I want readers to pick up the next book! I hope to get it done soon!

    I also went to a Harry Potter party at Barnse and Noble last night! It was fun. I got a Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets poster for free!

    I hope to get some inspiration for book 2 soon and when I do I'll let you guys know what's up!
    Peace!

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  63. I am a huge fan of fantasy roll playing games such as dungeons and dragons.
    The magic to me is comparable to electricity or gravity, I.E it is a "Science."
    As for multiple gods, I find that this is a completely unreal world and in this unreal world these gods are real so it is not worshiping false gods.

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