Of editors and “bad”language?

If the two topics cited in the title seem unrelated, bear with me.

I’m having a severe case of revision anxiety.

I am, for the third time, working on the “final” revision of my new book (Always a Runner is the working title).

I thought the book was finished the first time a year and a half ago. But no, according to the manuscript review prepared by the competent and insistent Jennifer Ciotta, the entire middle was all wrong.

So I replaced middle with a bunch of stuff to tie the beginning to the end. Not bad, according to insightful content editor Jody Berman, after she suggested some continuity and consistency fixes. Jody then politely closed with “I hope you’ll work with a good proofreader . . .”


So I fixed the stuff Jody said to fix and sent 65,000-plus words off to copy editor Jill Noble, who pointed out much of the narrative was out of sequence, and I was guilty of “head hopping”, which, Jill informed me, is switching point of view in the middle of a scene.

That’s not good.

Next time I think I’ll find an editor who’ll tell me my work is  brilliant and leave it at that.

This is my third book, and if I’ve learned anything, it is writing is a solitary struggle, but publishing is a team sport. And I have been extremely fortunate to have found great teammates. I think it is a rare author who would be able to do everything these talented and skillful professionals have contributed to my work.

But there is one issue that is still nagging at me. Language. Specifically profanity. And how much is acceptable in a book that I hope will reach a nominally Christian audience. Two of the main characters are teenage hard cases, and they they speak the way you’d expect un-churched hard cases to speak.

They swear and curse. A lot.

During the course of the story, both begin to change. My dilemma is, if I clean up their language, will the impact of the change be reduced. Or will the presence of any profanity at all make Always a Runner a non starter for Christian readers.

In my first two books God’s Instant and  Dark Canyons, I had a similar dilemma, and opted for the “clean” version. But these characters seem different. To deny their crude language early in the story would, I suspect, lessen the impact of the change each undergoes by the end.

I’m undecided. And open to suggestions.

There are some things an editor can insist on, and when my editors insist (or even suggest), I revise accordingly. They are reading my work with a critical and unemotional eye.

But, finally, some decisions rest solely with the author.

The best advice I ever received is to write with a specific reader in mind, and I need to decide who that reader is.

I know you’re out there. So would you mind speaking up. I really need some help here.








Why Christian Books . . . “with an Edge”?

I write books about Christians.

But I don’t write “Christian” books.

You won’t find much domestic happily-ever-after in my stories. But you will find characters dealing with difficult realities and with difficult people up close and face-to-face. People living on the edge. And some who’ve been over the edge and come back.

A young rodeo cowboy missing a father and girl with a dead father. An uncertain future. An old couple clinging to a way of life fading into the past.

An isolated family. A devout mother. A practical father. A precocious twelve-year old girl. An overbearing state authority that threatens their remote life.

The stories are set in sparsely populated rural locations and in the recent past, before electronic devices and instant communication changed the way we connect with and disconnect from each other.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with “feel-good” Christian fiction (one purpose of books in any genre is to make the reader feel good, but that’s not the only purpose). Books in the Christian genre offer encouragement and maybe even solace to millions of readers. But being human is sometimes hard and often messy. Being a Christian human means recognizing the messiness and having the means to soften the hardness . . . for others.

So . . . What you’ll find on this site are links to my first two novels, God’s Instant and Dark Canyons, a blog with free fiction, essays and occasional commentaries. The best way to get introduced to my stories is to check out the fiction section of the blog.

I think one of the prerequisites to being a writer is to be thick skinned. I am, so don’t hesitate to comment on what you read here. Feel free to contact me with questions or comments or observations using the contact link at the top of the page.

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Bruce Blizard, author of God's Instant and Dark Canyons