March 24, 2014

Writing Relevant by Lynn Dove

My three books, Shoot the Wounded, Heal the Wounded and Love the Wounded (The Wounded Trilogy) are written for a young adult audience and deal with controversial subject matter such as bullying, teen pregnancy, and family violence.  They have won awards and have received accolades for their sensitivity towards the subject matter. 

I am always a little sensitive when my books are criticized.  It's a foible all writers face.  Interestingly enough, those blatantly controversial subject areas I thought would raise eyebrows from some have not brought about as much shock and criticism from a Christian reading audience as much as the fact that I have teenage characters who "date".
Yes, that's right.  I actually have had more flack from Christian parents about my characters dating than the fact the characters have been victimized through bullying, and one suffering violence at the hands of abusive brothers. 
I almost had to laugh when one Christian reader said she could not condone the fact that my two main characters were allowed to date and so she refused to allow her middle schooler to read the books until she was old enough to understand dating.  She then told me that Christian parents should never allow their teenagers to date until they are eighteen.  I respect her opinion, but having been an educator for over thirty years, I know that students in middle school are very well aware of the dating scene whether their parents know of it or not.  I have seen young people date "on the sly" so that their over-protective parents would not know and lie about who they spend their time with and this has led to crisis pregnancies and unimaginable hurt that may well have been avoided if parents had been more aware of, and be involved in guiding their teen through those dating years.
In my books, my characters date and the parents are able to give wise counsel and advice.  They point their teens to God and insist that they respect one another.  There are no clandestine meetings, or secret rendezvous that lead to sin.  Parents know who their teens are with and set out expectations for behavior.  That's the way I've raised my kids and that's how I write about teen dating. 
I have noticed that writing from a Christian worldview sometimes brings about more criticism from a Christian audience than a secular audience.  I try to write relevant, meaning I write about the fallen human condition.  We are sinful people, living redeemed, but there are always consequences to sin.  However, well-meaning Christian parents find it's inappropriate for me to write about teens who date, or teens who get pregnant, or teens who cut themselves.  They obviously do not like to read about Christian teens who live in the same troubled world as their unsaved friends and who sadly make a lot of the same mistakes and poor choices.  To that I say, wake up parents!
It is important for Christian writers to ensure that they do not shy away from controversy.  We do not need to write graphically and be explicit with sex and language, but instead write with heart and compassion and with a clear Godly message and directive.  Be relevant without being lewd.  I hope teens who read my books will relate to my characters and will as my characters have done, when mistakes have been made, turn to Jesus Who will forgive them.  May teens know without a doubt that Jesus is trustworthy, that He is their Hope and that He loves them!

Lynn Dove enjoys connecting with her readers on her Journey Thoughts blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.


  1. Lynn, I connected with a number of your comments, especially the side quote sum up: "lWriting with passion is risky business, your readers need to see your heart." And I think sometimes when we reveal our heart we become vulnerable to critics (as you say often the Christian reading audience) but we also are more likely to connect with people. I would encourage you to keep writing with your passion.
    Thanks for the blog.

  2. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts on all of this, Lynn. We as Christians don't need to keep our children in a bubble, but our young people do need our guidance and God's to get them through the challenging teen years.

    I'm not keeping up with all the books I want to read, but I do want to get to this trilogy of yours which sounds intriguing. Keep up the good work.

  3. I agree, Lynn, that we need to write with relevance! "Be relevant without being lewd." That sums it up. Blessings on you and the people God has led you to write for.
    Pam Mytroen


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