It is no secret that I am a huge Amish Fiction fan and I think it goes without saying that I am a huge Beth Wiseman fan. So imagine my complete excitement to see that she has written a contemporary fiction novel and what a perfect time to celebrate it than now! Beth was gracious enough to share her thoughts on contemporary fiction with us today. I will be sharing my review of Need You Now on Wednesday when I will also be hosting an international giveaway for a finished copy of the book. *Hint leaving some comment love for Beth today will gain you a few extra entries! Enjoy pumpkins!
Contemporary Fiction; Amish and non-Amish
By Beth Wiseman
Lately, I’ve had so many people come up to me and say, “So cool that you’re doing your first contemporary novel.” I usually don’t tackle this in casual conversation…but actually, my latest release—Need You Now—isn’t my first contemporary fiction book…but it is my first non-Amish contemporary.
What does that say about contemporary fiction? It seems to me that if you write Amish stories, you are in a genre all your own. Same thing with mysteries, romances, thrillers, and supernatural stories that are contemporary in nature. So, is everything outside of those categories considered straight contemporary fiction? And what distinguishes contemporary fiction and women’s fiction?
These are questions I’ve been pondering as I alternate between Amish fiction and contemporary fiction that isn’t Amish. How do I hold onto my Amish fiction readers, gain new readers for my straight contemporaries, and also introduce new readers to my Amish series? Is there a commonality throughout all the stories that will be the deciding factor, something I’ll draw on to continue to try to spread God’s messages to a wider audience? I think so.
Let’s start with setting. Whether the locale is an Amish district, Texas ranch, Europe, the North Pole, or Mars—the setting establishes a contemporary feel set to modern times. Then you drop well-rounded characters into a current-time situation surrounded by good story-telling, realistic dialogue, and large doses of conflict. Throughout the pages, a strong spiritual arc needs to show real Christians acting in very human ways, setting a path for redemption and renewal without coming across as preachy to the reader.
An author’s voice. They are so individual, and I think that many readers follow an author because of his or her voice. So, I ask myself—what is unique enough about my voice that I can draw both Amish and non-Amish fans into my contemporary world, both men and women? I think the answer to that is that I am as flawed as my characters, and there is no sense trying to hide it. I love God, my husband, my kids, and my friends—but I still mess up all the time. I think that writing these stories is God’s way of ministering to my own soul just as much as He is breathing His messages into each plot. I think readers can feel that. I hope so.
Now here’s a biggie. What draws male readers into a contemporary story that is told in a woman’s point of view? Lots of women read books told in a man’s point of view, but the reverse doesn’t seem as popular. Are men pickier readers? I don’t think so. For me, the answer for this is to write in multiple points of view, often showing how men and women just don’t think alike sometimes, lol. Same thing for the older children. So many times, we can’t fathom what might be going on in our kids’ heads, especially teenagers. I like to give my teen characters a POV as well.
All in all, whether writing Amish or non-Amish contemporaries, my goal is always to glorify God through story and bring people one step closer to Him. So, I’ll continue to write in both genres, hoping to draw in readers that seek real-life stories about flawed human beings seeking to better themselves by finding the path God has laid out for them. We all get lost. It’s getting found that brings us home…to Him.
This guest post is being shared as a part of the Contemporary Month event being hosted by Evie at Bookish, Bonnie at Words at Home and Asheley at Into The Hall of Books. Click the banner below for full Words at Home schedule.