If I don’t remember the stories in these novels, you can bet I don’t remember much about the editing. Yet one incident does stand out, because it represents one of the challenges in writing for the Christian market.
In one of the books–FLEE, I think–a Navy Seal is captured by some Bad Guys who want to extract information from him. Navy SEALs, may I remind you, are trained to withstand pain and torture. So getting information from this guy is not going to be easy, except–
he has a young, beautiful, civilian wife.
Well, if you’re a Bad Dude, this situation is a no-brainer. What do you do to get the SEAL to talk? You torture the wife, of course.
So I wrote the scene that way. I wasn’t explicit, either–no bamboo shoots beneath the fingernails or anything like that. I think I had the guy hit her a couple of times. Or break a few fingers.
Well . . . no go. That scene got flagged in the editing process. No torturing of women, I was told.
I protested that the scene made no sense without the threat of violence to the wife. The bad guys had to have something to hang over the SEAL’s head, or he wasn’t going to talk.
So . . . I was allowed to SHOOT AND KILL the woman. I just couldn’t hit her.
(Well, if you had to choose, wouldn’t you rather be smacked than shot?)
Anyway: shooting–okay. Hitting–not okay.
I know, it makes no sense. But I strive to be a team player, so I wrote the scene as best I could. Some mountains are simply not worth dying on.
And I should point out that this happened years ago. Sensibilities have changed a lot since I wrote that scene, and I think today I could write a scene that would be painful enough without offending readers’ sensibilities.
But for today, at least, I’m glad I don’t have to. I found a much quieter way to murder my latest victim . . .