CATHOLIC FICTION WRITERS Catholic Novels, short stories and poetry writers
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Have fun writing. Many of the issues brought up in these web pages deal with controversial issues and moral acceptability, but your story does not need
to make these concerns a priority. Just be aware of them, pay attention to how they are treated and know you are free to tackle any subject that presents itself in the course of your
Your stories can be fun, entertaining, soft and smooth, endearing, or a bit rickety at times. Another author might tackle tougher life situations. Still
other authors will have a balance of the rough goings of life and the great celebrations of life. Bumping the lines of Catholic teaching and traditions is allowed.
Crossing the lines to endorse evil is a civil right. However, such works cannot be sanctified.
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WHAT IS A CATHOLIC AUTHOR? A definition for this
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The answer will vary from person to person, group to group. The designation I am applying to ďCatholic AuthorĒ in these pages requires more than baptismal membership.
There is no requirement that the story or novel should be about the Church or religion. However, at least some elements of cultural Catholicism should be present in the story. The over all
story should not be disparaging of the faith, yet it is allowable that some characters in the story would be disrespecting of the faith.
Some examples might include:
The writer might include a crucifix or saint picture on the wall of a home or office, a person holding a rosary or a brief scene of a character contemplating
their dilemmas inside a Church. Scenes near vigil lights are popular in movies. There is no requirement to say much if anything about the Church, (unless of course the faith plays an
important or major role in the book).
Conflict With the Church
It is acceptable to bring out strong conflicts with the Church in your story. Read Lorraine, one of the short story
samples included for this writerís guide. A serious Church issue is presented, but without a single mention of Church or religion, nor has a resolve to the dilemma been offered.
Many beginning authors feel obligated to clarify a Catholic teaching. You donít have to. The author of Lorrain dropped the problem in the readerís lap,
so to speak. The readers may sort though the complexity of issues if they desire. The situation has far too many life-like elements to draw a simple solution from a Catechism textbook.
The author, rather than solving a myriad of moral dilemmas or issues, provokes serious thinking on heated moral topics. This sort of writing can become
a Catholic teaching tool by default regardless if that is the authorís intention or not.
There are so many samples to cite. Scroll to the bottom of this page
for some thoughts on marriage, divorce and annulments.
Challenges to Gospel Stories
Iím not suggesting an all out negative challenge to the Gospel. Rather, I bring out some elements I think are missing from common homiletic themes in some of the
popular Gospel stories, such as the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan.
I think the son who stayed home and did the Fatherís will gets a bum rap in most of the sermons I heard. I was a sneaky underhanded little brother who
at times got the best of my older, responsible, obedient brother. A story that can lambaste the likes of the brother who crawled home might even the odds, instead of rewarding him in
sermon after sermon. (I think my older brother would like a story like that.)
Why must we beat up the reputations of the Priests and Levites that bypassed the poor dude that was brutally thrashed and left at the side of the road?
I didnít have that in mind when I wrote Fishing Hole, but I thought
about that later.
The victim in Fishing Hole considers the trepidation of a potential rescuer and I explain in the left column of that short story page why a Good Samaritan should
think things through carefully before jumping in. The victim in my story is walking a country road with his mouth gagged and his hands tied behind his back. The Samaritan needs to
consider the possibility that the victim might be running from executioners of a well-armed rival gang. They may shoot the Samaritan for being an unwitting eyewitness.
Then there is the simple element of shock or astonishment on the part of a Good Samaritan of seeing a person alone on a deserted road in such a predicament and
it takes a couple of minutes to let things register.
My story ends as a cliffhanger. We do not know if the passerby will prove to be a helper or a despicable opportunist, or party to the original crime.
Sin & Virtue Side by Side
A Catholic writer can add a light sprinkling of any of the seven deadly sins, the seven cardinal sins and subtly permit the reader to call upon the seven gifts
of the Holy Spirit or the seven virtues or the four levels of wisdom without turning their story into a sermon.
Develop a likeable, honorable character. Have him or her slowly succumb to drink or gluttony. Provide enablers; that is, friends who are much too kind to confront
him (or her) about the developing problem. This person can exist in an over all fun book or nice story. No need to concentrate on conflict and moral issues all through the book, but some
reference makes the story more realistic. A clever writer can treat this with generous helping of humor. Humor, in some situations, is a coping mechanism and in other cases a gift for
The center column deals with general fiction writing that may or not be Church centered. This column deals with novels and short stories that are forthright
Catholic through and through. My novels balance the goal of attracting a general audience and inclusion of some specific Catholic themes. There are excellent novels out there that are
specifically Catholic centered stories.
Not much needs to be said about how to make such a book ďCatholic.Ē Respecting Catholic teaching and traditions is important to comply with this pageís
definition of what makes a Catholic authorís works Catholic. Obviously, a book bashing the Church would be anti-Catholic. Therefore a Catholic Novels is not just ďaboutĒ Catholics and
the Church, but favorable to Catholicism.
This does not require tiptoeing around debates, such as women priesthood, homosexuality, and abortion and how Mass should be said, nor is an author
expected to address such issues. Either decision works fine. Fiction, other than fantasy or science fiction, generally attempts to read as if it could have been non-fiction. Therefore,
the real life situations that are at odds with the Church can be included.
The Church disallows artificial birth control and abortion. A Catholic author can include characters that practice artificial birth control. Writers can
represent parties favorable of pro-choice. The requirement for the work to remain Catholic is not to openly endorse these things. Refuting the practices at some point in the story would
be nice, but not required.
Karen Schuller, from my novels, comes from a Lutheran family. It becomes apparent later in the first book that she either became a Catholic at some point in
her adult life, or at least has an amiable relationship with the Catholic Church. The first indication of her more direct involvement with the Catholic Church shows up when she requests
Fr. Jacob to investigate if her second marriage can be ďregularizedĒ in the Church.
She had already divorced her first husband, remarried and had a son through the second marriage. I never divulged if she actually became a Catholic, though circumstantial evidence
in the story suggests she might have, or at least that her second husband by common law followed by a civil marriage might be Catholic. Chances are, though, that Fred Fern, the second
husband was not Catholic. We know from earlier evidence that Fred was raised Protestant, but no particular denomination was mentioned.
Yet, Karen and Fred came to a point in their lives that they sought Catholic approval or blessing of their marriage. This would require one or both of them to be Catholic at this
point. They had been together for at least twelve years prior to making this request.
Divorce of its own does not separate a Catholic from the Sacraments. However, remarriage requires a legitimate Church issued annulment of the first marriage; otherwise, the
Catholic parties are usually barred from receiving the Eucharist. Annulment proceedings are not public because of the respect for personal privacy. With that in mind, I had no need to
disclose how Karen and Fredís marriage and Church issue was handled. It suffices that I said Fr. Jacob and Job handled things successfully in accordance to Church law.
What if my novel did not place that marriage in good standing with the Church?
Well, ya know, that happens a lot in real life. The Catholic author is not under an obligation to deal with this in their novels. Karen and Fredís life together would have remained
a joyous union and their son, Erik, would continue to be the delightful, loveable character that he is in my novel, (at least most of the time.) I am under no obligation to hint at my
personal opinion of Karen and Fredís decision if they never sought Church approval of their earlier common law arraignment or of the civil marriage that came later.
My obligation is not to express personal encouragement for people to thumb their noses at the Churchís marriage laws. In this case, I happened to include a section showing my
charactersí interest to comply with Church norms and set a good example for their sons. (Karen had two older sons by her first marriage.)
Incidentally, this was Fred Fernís only marriage.