Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Edgy Writing: Conclusion, pt. 1

Love reading your thoughts, all. Thanks so much for taking part in this discussion.

As some of you know, I've been in Nashville this last week for sales conference and meetings. Guess what was a hot topic? Yup, "edgy" writing. Especially when my fiction team and I met with the buyers from one of the top bookstore chains. Even more amazing? One of the buyers recently asked managers of stores across the country what they liked and disliked in Christian fiction. Guess what the most often mentioned "dislike" was? Books that are edgy for edgy's sake. Because when it comes down to it, you don't have to use the world's tools to write authentic, powerful fiction.

So how do we show all of life in our fiction? All the ugly, beautiful, uplifting, degrading aspects of life? Tune in to the next installment and I'll give you my thoughts.

Peace all.


Note to Anonymous (whose response I didn't publish): I appreciated what you had to say and felt you made some good points. But when we're discussing issues like this, I won't publish comments that are anonymous. I've always believed that if you're going to make a point, especially one that criticizes others, you need to stand behind what you say. And that means using your name. Thanks.


Nicole said...

"One of the buyers recently asked managers of stores across the country what they liked and disliked in Christian fiction. Guess what the most often mentioned "dislike" was? Books that are edgy for edgy's sake."

Karen, I find this to be a rather amazing comment. I've worked for a couple of different Christian bookstores, different managers, and have spoken with other managers. None of these fine people could keep up with the majority of fiction that lined their shelves. Some of them didn't read fiction.

I think it's safe to say that what constitutes "edgy" can be fairly tame for some and quite liberal for others (as I think Rel pointed out very well). While it's a valid point in specifying "edgy for sake of being edgy", the variations of that remark differentiate ad infinitum.

This creates a disconnect between readers/consumers, buyers, and publishers, but it certainly explains the overload on shelves of prairie/Amish romances.

Lynn Squire said...

I'm so glad you posted this. I'm glad to here what the managers had to say and I'm looking forward to your next installment. :)

Teri D. Smith said...

I can't wait! How timely that the subject came up on your trip.

Heather said...

Hey Karen, I appreciate that you're discussing this topic. I've heard a ton about "edgy" Christian fiction, and a lot of the unpubbed but searching Christian fantasy/sci-fi writers tend to lean toward edgy. I think there's a problem with the edginess when you can't tell the edgy Christian novel from a secular novel...except for maybe some spiritual overtones.
A lot of it boils down to being of in the world but not of the world, I guess.

Pam Halter said...

hi Karen ~ I've read all the edgy posts and comments. I agree that edgy fiction is bold and trend setting, often straying into uncharted territory. I have a friend who is writing edgy stuff and she's pretty good. The problem is that she's been told she's TOO edgy. I've read the manuscript from the first sentence. She is NOT too edgy for me and I'm pretty picky, although eclectic in my reading choices.

It seems to me that editors say they want edgy and when a writer gives it to them, they don't want to take a chance.

I'm not putting anyone down. I'm just confused.

Mary Hawkins said...

I've been busy writing so late reading your blog on this, Karen. It is very timely for me. I've seen discussions on what 'edgy' is and I agree there seems to be more than one idea of what is or is not 'edgy.' I was really surprised when another writer mentioned she thought my Return to Baragula about to be realeased in the US she thought was 'edgy.' With your description, Karen, I still believe she is wrong - not daring (I don't think so), no graphic language or love making, no attempt to be a trend setter. So, I will be waiting on tenterhooks to see what others think of it. It was released here in Australasia 12months ago and no one has mentioned any of this to me - yet anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen, I'm new here, and so happy to have been told about this blog. I've read some of the previous posts with great interest.

I'm wondering if the term "edgy" should be dispensed with, since it seems to stigmatize what we writers are trying for when we write "real." And I certainly believe we can do it without the vulgarity that saturates the general market. Most people don't act and talk that way in the world I live in, believer and non-believer alike.

Deborah Piccurelli

C.J. Darlington said...

Fascinating reading. Thanks for linking to my piece on this subject, Karen. I'm very interested to learn what actual bookstore buyers are thinking.

marci seither said...

Edgy is often a word used for shock factor. I think we need less shock and "more to the point, hard hitting truth that can be digested and reflected vs. "tantalizingly close to the line of acceptable".

Sharon A. Lavy said...

Interesting post. Thanks.