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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Dark and Light

by Nicole Petrino-Salter

Some of us authors specialize in darkness or light, but most of us write somewhere in between the two. The opinions of writing either way can strain the extremes of a meter to measure the positive and negative responses to each.

Some readers are flexible and will read nearly all genres without complaint as to their themes or topics. Other readers will write publishers, give one-star reviews, and post, tweet, or Facebook negativity about books they’ve selected to read, offering excuses of being “deceived” by the title, the back cover copy, or someone’s review or recommendation. Their complaints include offenses to language such as hell, crap, or boob. They say the storyline was too dark and evil and question the motives of the writer. Some will wail about “religious” inclusions even if the only thing mentioned was a prayer as someone lay dying. Still other readers will with the same intensity rave about a book offering little actual review-worthy information other than they love, love, loved the protagonist or heroine.

Some authors like to highlight the darkness to reinforce the light. Other writers like to dwell in the light and ignore the darkness. Others still want to demonstrate that nobody escapes darkness of both the external and internal variety. We are in fact sinners. We do entertain evil thoughts occasionally – or frequently. It’s not like we’ve never wanted vengeance on a wicked person or at least justice.

We do battle our flesh daily and combat the world while participating in what life encompasses. Some of us are closer to the Lord than others of us, but that is not for you or I to determine of someone else. Yes, we can identify certain faults, characteristics, and habits of others, right or wrong, and choose not to judge/condemn them.

As a reader, establish your criteria for reading fiction and stick to those authors who provide you with what you enjoy. If at any time you feel adventurous, be careful not to dive into something which is risky for your tolerance level.

Realize this: Christians might not measure up to your standards, but they must measure up to God’s. People don’t decide what that pure measurement contains because they often look in the wrong places to determine it. God judges the heart, knows the mind, and will see to the well-being of a writer who desires to honor Him with the talent given. If said author fails to do so, that remains between him and the Lord.    

Authors strive to do their best. Perhaps for the perennial bestsellers, they occasionally slide in their efforts, but as a Christian, we are told to do everything as if we’re submitting it to the Lord. That singular instruction will produce a vast array of stories because God lacks no creativity or imagination. Ideally, we authors not only want to please an audience, more than anything we want to please the Lord.

As readers, let Him be the judge of that. You don’t have to like or buy what we write, but ultimately we don’t answer to you. We answer to the One who gave us the desire and hopefully the ability to include truth in fiction. 

Nicole Petrino-Salter writes love stories with a passion. She sees reality but often lives in la-la-land. Devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ, her family, friends, and pets, you can visit her here. 


  1. Good article and so true. It angers me to see someone give a one start rating simply because the book was Christian genre. Or, a Christian reviewer judging the author because of the content.

  2. I've noticed the common one-star reviews usually are written by people who don't know how to express their opinions without attacking the author. If you really don't like a book that much, why bother to expose and admit you chose to read it - and some of them confess they stopped reading after the first few chapters which doesn't really qualify as a genuine opinion of the book as a whole. I've also noticed many of the one-star reviewers merely want the attention and a forum to rant. Thanks, Joan for taking the time to comment.

  3. Thought provoking as always, Nicolle. I know this sounds trite but the best policy is to be true to yourself. Readers can tell when a story doesn't ring true to that principle. Of late, I've been reading Michael Bunker who writes about Plain People (i.e. Amish) in the future. A few are turned off by his realistic portrayal of life and the world but his story must ring true to thousands of readers because they keep on recommending to others. The sales reflect that.

  4. I agree, Tim. We know what we can handle and what we don't want to handle. The responsibility to view or read things lies with us and is between us and the Lord. He's the only One who can straighten us out if we need it. Appreciate you, Tim.

  5. I appreciate the effort you've taken to describe the relationship between the Christian author and the Lord. You've captured perfectly the tension between our desire to please an audience and our commitment to honor the One who gave us talent. Thank you.

  6. Thank you, Kate. Means a lot to me.


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