So I got to thinking. I switched days with another Seeker because of a conflict on my regular day to post. Then I forgot that I’d switched and scheduled an appointment for this morning. All is well as I shouldn’t be out more than a couple of hours. (I’ll be back, so y’all behave!!!)
In addition, today is the 16th, and I blog in Heroes, Heroines, and History on the 16th of every month, rain or shine, much like the postman makes his rounds.
My topic on HHH today is taboo foods. I started mulling over the topic when thinking about why it is that the five whites (sugar, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes) tend to be shunned in American society these days. Is it a fad or truly that these foods can be detrimental to our health and our waistline?
Anyway, today’s post here in Seekerville isn’t about taboo foods, but more about writing-related taboos, and I’m not just talking about taboo topics. There can be all kinds of taboos, and they change as often as the foods that it’s currently hip to avoid.
Taboo Language. It’s no secret that there are certain words that many Christian readers would prefer not to see in their reading material. It’s not that we’re prudes or that we like to pretend we don’t hear or see those words in the world around us. But you can’t unsee a vulgar word. Sure, I can get past one or two here or there, but when my reading material is riddled with them seemingly just for the shock value, then I notice and I remember and I can’t unthink them. Same with the spoken word. I’m visual and soak up the written word more than what I hear, but I’m not a fan of being around people who curse with abandon or anything that comes over the “tube” that’s riddled with obscene language. I’m not even a fan of “potty” humor. It’s just not funny to me.
So it’s a balancing act. And words that were frowned upon ten, fifteen or twenty years ago would probably pass muster in a lot of Christian fiction these days. But in some cases, not, depending on the publishers guidelines, and each reader’s personal preferences.
Taboo Topics and Visuals. When I searched the internet for this, a blog post by Steve Laube from 2017 was one of the first to pop up. In his post, Edgy Christian Fiction, Steve says, “There are three main areas of dispute: Sex, Language, and Violence,” regarding taboo topics in Christian fiction. The post and the (very civil) comments are enlightening as visitors to the blog discuss what is “too much” or when it’s “too sanitized” for real life. I suppose we all have our hot buttons, but depending on the skill of the author, the purpose of including violence, etc. in a novel and the set-up leading up to the questionable scenes, I might accept or reject accordingly. Case in point: There were a lot of scenes in Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers that in many novels would have made me stop and never read that book again. However, the skill of Ms. Rivers to portray the subject matter in a tasteful, believable, and sympathetic manner made the book memorable, not stomach churning.
Taboo Styles. Maybe not taboo, but third person, first person, omniscient pov, and/or a mix of all the above has been in vogue or out of vogue depending on the season and which way the wind is blowing. While omniscient pov is out of style right now, a mix of third and first person within the same novel can be found. It’s not common, but it’s out there. Third person is the most common (at least in the novels that I generally read), and first person is a bit more rare.
Taboo, or rather, out of favor, genres. In 2005 (give or take a few years), publishers didn’t want historical romance. Women’s fiction, Chick Lit, and Lad Lit were all the rage. Three days later, the pendulum swung and historical fiction was on rise again and Chick Lit had sprouted wings and flown away. In the last 19 years, the pendulum has swung back and forth hitting all the genres, mixing them up, combining, and spitting them out again. Time slip is popular now. This is not time travel. It’s two (or more) storylines from different timelines within the same novel with some thread that ties the stories together.
One thing is for sure, change will swing again. Just as tomatoes were frowned upon in 16th century Europe, words, topics, styles, and genres will change, morph and grow.
CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of. www.pamhillman.com