Inspirational Romance. What is it?

My name is Pat and I write inspirational romance and inspirational romantic suspense for Steeple Hill Books under the pen name of Patricia Davids. I have eight published novels with two more scheduled for release this year and three under contract for next year. Sounds like I might be an expect on inspirational romance, doesn’t it? Well, I’m not, but I do have a little insight I’m willing to share.

If you’re thinking of writing for the inspirational market you have a lot of opportunities that weren’t present even a few years ago. The market is expanding rapidly even in these tough economic times and encompasses numerous genres. So what makes it a story inspirational? It is not the lack of sex or bible quotes.

Having a character who is a Christian, using Christian phrases and/or scriptures will not automatically make your story fit into the inspirational market.

One or more of your characters’ Christian beliefs must form a fundamental part of the story. If you are writing a police drama, your character’s profession will dictate how he or she responds to the conflict in your story. With inspirational romances, the character’s Christian beliefs dictate how he or she will react in much the same way.

Are you getting the picture?

So what type of stories are inspirational publishers looking for?

Here is a list from the American Christian Fiction Writers website.

Contemporary Romance (includes romantic comedy)
• Historical Romance
• Romantic Suspense
• Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Allegory
• Historical Fiction (not romance)
• Young Adult
• Contemporary Fiction
• Women’s Fiction
• Suspense/Thriller/Mystery

ACFW is a great resource for researching the market and they have a good contest for unpublished authors. You can visit their site at

Do you have questions or comments about inspirational romance? Here's your chance to ask an almost expert.



Starla Kaye said...

That was an excellent description of what writing inspirational romance entails. Our dear Pat is fast becoming an expert, no matter what she says. We are all so proud of her and what she has accomplished. This is another reason to belong to a group of writers such as WARA. By having published authors in different genres, all writers get to learn a little more about an area they might want to try writing.

Rox Delaney said...

Great explanation! I've never been sure what writing inspirational romance encompasses, but now I understand. Thanks for sharing this, Pat!

Reese Mobley said...

Thanks for the great explaination, Pat. As your critique partner I can vouch for the fact that you are very knowledegable about the business, very proud of your craft and very devoted to your beliefs. Keep up the good work. Reese

Joan Vincent said...

Thanks for the clear and concise explanation of Inspirational Romance. Could you give an instance of how one of your characters reacted dictated by his/her Christian beliefs?

Pat Davids said...

Thanks everyone for your kind comments. I wouldn't be where I am without the help and support of WARA.

snwriter52 said...

Thank you for sharing Pat.

Jeannie said...

Inspirational fiction is certainly one of the most sought after categories by readers today. It takes a good hand with characters and plot to write it successfully. Pat certainly has that ability. It was interesting to see that inspirational presses are looking for sci-fi/fantasy allegory. I suppose it stems from the making of the movies based on the C.S. Lewis books. I know a fellow named Frank Peretti was writing Christian fantasy a few years back, as well. Are the publishers handling topics like infidelity and divorce in Inspirational yet?

Pat Davids said...

They are, but it has to be done carefully. I've had a divorced character, a recovering alcoholic and several unwed mothers in my stories. I've read stories that featured reformed prostitutes and ex-cons as the main characters. As long as the character finds redemption as part of their story arc it may be acceptable to the publisher.

What isn’t acceptable is any foul language, no cursing even in its mildest form such as heck or darn. No “on stage” drinking, or sex. They have to be past elements of the character’s lives.

Penny Rader said...

If one character is a non-Christian at the beginning of the story, does that have to change during the course of the story?

I was also wondering how your writing process differs when you write your inspirational suspense novels versus writing your 'regular' inspirational books?

Pat Davids said...

Good questions, Penny.
The two main characters must both be Christians by the end of the story. In fact, that has to happen before they commit to each other.

As for inspirational suspense, the main issue is increasing danger to the hero or heroine or both of them. Although they have faith in God, they aren't looking for a miracle to save them. (Neither is an editor) They have to get themselves out of danger. Their faith may be tested by the circumstances they find themselves in, but ultimately it becomes stronger.

Jeannie said...

Thanks for your response Pat. I always think imperfect characters are more interesting than perfect ones. It's harder to redeem a sinner than a saint. ^-^

Have you seen or read any of the sci-fi/fantasy allegory inspirationals? Two sci-fi allegories I can think of are the Disney movie TRON and Robert Heinlein's STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND. Although the latter would hardly qualify as inspirational under the qualifications you've mentioned about sex, etc. ^-^ And as I said before, fantasy allegories include the C.S. Lewis books/movies. Not sure I know of any others though.


Pat Davids said...

I haven't read any of the sci/fi type inspirationals. Check out the ACFW website. They have a catagory for that in their contest so you may find some examples there.

Jeannie said...

Thanks Pat. I'll check it out.


Nina Sipes said...

Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land I read and decided it was a thinly veiled Jesus story replica for much of it. Very cleverly crafted, but recognizable--unless I really got it all wrong. Which is possible. I remember thinking at the time it was a very nervy move. Sci-fi wasn't all that accepted by mainstream readers then. You just don't mess with religious icons and get away unscathed--generally.