Clean Fiction – A Door To Community: The Clean Fiction Blog Tour
For as long as I can remember, my family has enjoyed stories together.
The bulk of these stories have been, by and large, clean fiction.
For us, clean opened the door to community. Clean meant that both parents and children could enjoy a story together, instead of being separated into individual reading experiences by the barrier of content.
Years later, when reading aloud was not as common and I read independently, I made the discovery that the books frequently marketed to YA or adult audiences were, by and large, infinitely inferior to those clean stories that we once enjoyed together. Content cuts me off from community, because it not only spoils my own reading experience, it causes me to provide provisos for every book recommendation.
As fiction is invaded more and more by “mature” content, I think many people find themselves wishing for when stories were more likely to bring us together, instead of separating us by age and sensitivity level.
Long before we had books and text, stories were told aloud to groups. Stories were not kept to oneself or shared with only one individual, stories were meant to draw people together by the power of the imagination. Because of their oral delivery, content was painted with broad strokes, enabling larger audiences to enjoy it. Stories were a communal escape.
To me, clean fiction is a harking back to these earlier forms of storytelling. People still want to experience stories together, and they can only do that happily and easily if there is more clean fiction.
Sadly, many people have lost the ability to write clean fiction. Many people don’t realize that it often takes more skill and thought not to write about graphic content. Once sex is removed from the equation, a writer is forced to dive more meaningfully into other relationships aside from romantic ones. Once swear words are forbidden, the author is forced to write dialogue that is truly powerful, instead of turning to the mindlessness of foul language. Once graphic violence is outlawed, the writer is forced to create true action and excitement without cheating their way out by reverting to gore.
The truth is clear: that despite the pervading voice of today’s culture that urges us to dirty up our fiction, mature content has never been required to tell a good story.
While there is definitely a time and place for books that are geared to different ages while addressing mature topics (and I’ve written some), I still believe that clean fiction is more yearned for than popular culture would have you believe.
It’s a pity that many people today have come to think of clean fiction as being synonymous with weak or sentimental writing. Being an aficionado of older fiction, I can assure you that it’s anything but!
Older clean fiction was what taught me what storytelling is really about—the artisan-like skill of weaving together fiction and themes that speak to everyone without resorting to cheap sensationalism. Older clean fiction brought me close to other readers through the power of shared story.
Clean fiction, by my definition, means that it is fiction that is not only appropriate for everyone, it welcomes everyone. It is fiction that is so classic it opens itself up to markets on every side. It is fiction that is so engaging anyone can find it interesting, no matter their age, gender, or background.
It is family fiction. It is read aloud fiction; the sort of story that can take not only one person away, but a group. It is fiction that can cherished for years or even generations, and eagerly shared, without warning or reservation, because it is good clean fun.
When I began publishing my fairy tale retellings, I drew inspiration from Disney’s animated films. I wanted my books to have the same feeling that is conjured up when you realize that everyone from grandma to the six year old could enjoy the latest Disney animation film together.
They are stories that are still every bit as “real” as other genres—full of humanity, thoughtfulness, and depth—but sweet and clean enough for a wide and varied audience to experience it safely, knowing that they will not be shocked by inappropriate content or cheated out of a happily ever after.
Of all the feedback I have ever received, I have been particularly delighted to hear that people are reading The Reluctant Godfather aloud and laughing over it together.
Because people – of every age and background – will always be my favorite target group.
This, to me, is success. To create a story that cannot be defined by age group. To produce characters that appeal to everyone. To weave a world that entertains an entire family. To create a story that entertains, while still making my audience feel the coziness that comes from knowing you aren’t going to be slapped in the face with sudden content.
That, to me, is clean fiction.
Ultimately, one of the things I love most about clean stories is that it trains us for the life to come. As a Christian, I look forward to the day when the world is made new. When that day comes, the only stories that will exist anymore will be clean. There will be no more violence or sex or swearing coloring our stories—stories will only exist for the purpose of telling the new Universe about the wonders of God—a God who is cleaner and whiter than snow.
Writing clean fiction now not only focuses on the best in this current life, it is good practice for the kind of stories that Christians will be telling better than ever in Eternity.
We had better learn to like clean stories! Someday, those will be the only stories left.
Allison Tebo is a writer committed to creating magical stories full of larger-than-life characters, a dash of grit, and plenty of laughs. She is the author of the Tales of Ambia, a series of romantic comedy retellings of popular fairy tales and her flash fiction and short stories have been published in Splickety, Spark, Inklings Press, Rogue Blades Entertainment, Pole to Pole Publishing, and Editing Mee. Allison graduated with merit from London Art College after studying cartooning and children’s illustration and, when not creating new worlds with words or paint, she enjoys reading, baking, and making lists.
ABOUT HER BOOK
Burndee is a young and cantankerous fairy godfather, who would rather bake cakes than help humans. A disgrace to the fairy order, Burndee has only two wards entrusted to his care…a cinder girl and a charming prince.
A royal ball presents Burndee with the brilliant solution of how to make his wards happy with the least amount of effort. He’ll arrange a meeting and hope the two fall in love.
A humorous and magical re-telling of Cinderella, The Reluctant Godfather is sure to delight audiences of all ages.
Don’t Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Posts For The Clean Fiction Blog Tour!
March 27th Allison Tebo: