To begin, in general I love religion. Belief in God plays such a strong role in our society that to ignore it as a writer is a mistake. You’re doing a disservice to the reader and the story. Now, I’m not saying to go in and make fun of religion (unless that is the point of your novel, article or short), or bash people over the head with your religious view. Writers need to treat faith like they would treat any other topic.
It’s important so why ignore it.
The reason I bring this up is that as a writer all my stories hold some link to faith and a belief system of some kind. I try to be fair with how I present the subject, and I don’t get preachy with beliefs in a Higher Power, and I steer clear of making fun of it. That said, I will point out hypocrisy because all faiths have it.
Regardless, I truly love religion (at one point I wanted to study World Religions) and I love how it affect us, who we are as a people and what we believe as a collective human culture. Not to mention how we consider our fellow man. Its saddens me when we attack each other for our religious beliefs. Because when you boil all beliefs in a High Power down to the basic ideal they are all pretty much the same. There is so much that is wrong in the world today. Do we have to bring out the religious drums and beat them and attack each other over it?
I don’t think so.
Back to my point about religion in stories and as a fact in the lives of the character’s. For me the subject of belief adds another layer to the character and their development. When I create a character, I make a point to know what faith they are. Even if it never comes up, because it will affect the decisions they make, for good and for bad. Having that character knowledge helps with the details in the story. Example:
A Jewish or Muslim character won’t typically eat pork;
A Mormon character won’t drink alcohol, caffeine (well some do) or curse;
A Catholic character may tend to be lax about some Catholic teachings; (divorce, contraception, fish on Fridays, church on Sundays, etc.) while being anti-abortion;
A Baptist character can be extremely religious (church every Sunday, bible study, heavy church involvement, etc.).
These are some general examples. How religion affects our characters, how they choose to believe, and how they practice their faith can be different for each one. Faith in a Higher Power is different for each person. So, as writers we need to know this about our characters.
You may not want to have your Jewish main character eating a BLT on the Sabbath, or your Muslim main character having a huge meal at lunch during Ramadan, or your Mormon main character having a double espresso with a shot of bourbon at a party, or your Catholic main character having a fat juice steak on a Friday night during Lent, or your Baptist main character watching the big game on Sunday.
Again, these are just examples and I’m not saying it’s a rule (there are no rules in crafting your characters).
Once you know your character’s faith, you can play with it in the stories. It can be a little flavor or spice thrown into the mix.
In ‘A New World - Contact’ I have a Catholic main character married to a Mormon secondary character, and I play with that dynamic. I also, have a Baptist character who is good friends with a Russian Orthodox character, again you don’t know this as a reader because I don’t tell you in the story but it affects all the character motivations.
In ‘A Calling’ the main character was born Catholic, but his family wasn’t religious so he wasn’t religious. This was kind of fun to play with during the story. It eventually becomes a major plot point in the work.
The other thing about religion in stories is faith helps with character motivations especially when those beliefs are called into question. It allows the writer to add another layer of drama to why the character acts the way they do. Imagine having all your beliefs suddenly called into question. Stop and think about that for a moment. How would you react? How would that affect your life? What would you have to change? Would you be able to change, or would it be too much for you to cope with?
Interesting thought. Right?
Faith in non-religious books, what do you think? Yay, or Nay? Feel free to share your thoughts below. Remember you can always ‘like’ and ‘share’ this blog post. It lets me know what you want to talk about. What you find interesting. What you would rather not see. I’d love to hear from folks on this topic.
See ya soon.