Forgotten Religion

I find it interesting that religion is so often forgotten in fantasy books. Whether you (or your character) are personally religious or not, there’s no question that religion plays an enormous part in society as a whole, and a story that fails to address that aspect of life often feels a little rickety to me.

That’s not to say that all books need to be religiously themed, but even a passing mention that establishes the beliefs of the people in your world lends tremendous credibility and detail to the story. Thus, the writing challenge for the week:

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Write a scene that shows the role religion plays in your character’s life.

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4 Comments

  1. When there is a religion, though, in fantasy books, it adds another dimension to the story, especially if it is a moving force for the plot. R.A. Salvatore and Terry Goodkind both have religion as a major force in some of their books. Great stories, great writers!

  2. I’ve read a lot of religious fiction, involving many different faiths, but outside of C. S. Lewis and Tolkien, I can’t recall having read any fantasy that included any hint of faith. My impression of most fantasy is that it functions as a form of quasi-religious mythology, in and of itself.

    A fictional religion in a fantasy book may find acceptance, but I think most people are afraid to read novels that portray religion in a “real” context: People who are religious are afraid to read about somebody else’s faith, and people who aren’t religious are afraid of encountering “preaching” or “proselyting.” Some people won’t like a story that involves faith unless it attacks religion, or a character renounces faith. On the other hand are the readers who want religious fiction to take the “all is well in Zion” approach. At the very least, most fiction that deals with real religions is going to get shoved into some niche. Finally, there are the unfortunate novels that are “too religious for the world, but too worldly for the religious.” Everybody seems to be afraid to read them.

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