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Religion in your Writing

Post  Taryn on Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:30 pm

Hey guys! Happy Easter!

I've been thinking a lot about religion in writing, what with my WiP and books like Denise Jaden's Losing Faith. I know that we have a lot of Christians on this board (Lizzy? Amanda?), and I know that my faith, at least, affects my writing.

With fantasy , we have to come up with an entire religion, maybe paralleling our own, and maybe playing off a particular element.

With contemporary, we decide how we want our characters to relate to faith.

With dystopian, we figure out a future landscape of beliefs with a logical progression from today.

How do you put your faith into your writing? Do you at all? If you're agnostic/atheist, do you ignore it altogether?
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Re: Religion in your Writing

Post  Sarah on Sun Apr 24, 2011 3:10 pm

Hmm, good question. I haven't really thought about it much. The characters in the story I wrote have beliefs but religion isn't really something that comes up for them. I don't really address religion in the story but I do address their beliefs. I guess it depends on what you're writing. Most of the time the subject doesn't come up, but my faith still does affects my writing, for example, I always have my characters say 'Oh my gosh', because I myself don't like saying the full form (my brother thinks I'm weird because of that haha).

Happy Easter!!! albino < I think it's a bunny.... But it says albino.... LOL
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Re: Religion in your Writing

Post  Amanda on Sun Apr 24, 2011 5:07 pm

In my epic fantasy, I have a ton of allegory that isn't all that apparent in the first book. The foundation has already been laid, hopefully, but a lot of it comes out in future character growth and further world building that isn't there yet. Kind of like Chronicles of Narnia, but maybe on a larger scale, and allegorizing different things. The world as a whole is kind of paralleling the days of Noah leading up to the Flood, but the individual characters kind of jump around in time as to who I'm basing them off of. Not all of them have an allegory related to them, and some of them take different things from different people, but I try. The world religions are based half in my imagination, and half in various ancient/modern religions.

As for my superhero-type two-book thing, it looks like my personal faith is going to be ignored, because some key plot points are based in ancient Greek and Roman stuff. The Snow White retelling Renee' and I are going to do sometime is also based in ancient Greece, with time travel, so not really much religion there, either.

I think the only blatant faith I've ever included was in this book chapter I wrote for a contest--a contemporary Christian YA. I don't think I'm going to finish it, but it might be something to do when I get bored...WAY in the future. I hope to do some sort of historical that includes a little faith. That would be cool. Smile

Oh yeah, and Happy Resurrection Day, everybody! Very Happy I'm going to go celebrate the end of Lent with church, music, and coffee. I missed coffee... *sigh*
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Re: Religion in your Writing

Post  Constance on Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:48 pm

My view is even if you don't directly direct put religion in your novel, your worldview(and hence, you religion) will show through. This isn't necessarily always true, but it stands to reason at least sometimes.

Other than that––because my religion is such a big part of my life––I think about how to incorporate religion into my story without it being in-your-face(I don't like in-your-face books, be they about religion or life styles or food choices Rolling Eyes ). It's no easy task, for sure.

Anyway. Happy Easter!! Did everyone have a good day?
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Re: Religion in your Writing

Post  Maggie on Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:09 pm

That's a good question, Taryn.

I usually leave religion out of my work, period. I think it affects the markets you can reach, and I want my work to be appealing to all teens, not just limited by what they believe. I will, however, set my standards at a certain level, and I won't promote things I don't personally believe in in my work, like fornication or drug use as a lifestyle, for example. I also try to keep the language clean, and won't use anything very vulgar.

As far as creating religions in my fantasy novels, yes there are gods, but I never really talk about them or what my characters believe. I may have a dark religion that's on the bad side, but -- so far -- even in my high fantasy it's just not something I'll address.

But that's a good question! And I like the varying answers. Smile

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Re: Religion in your Writing

Post  Shahira on Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:53 pm

Religion is a HUGE part of my life. But since it's such a touchy subject [especially being Muslim, lol] I try to keep it out of my work. Also, like Lizzy said, I try not to promote things in my novels that I wouldn't do myself. I guess it all just depends on the plot & the characters. :]
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Re: Religion in your Writing

Post  Constance on Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:53 am

I agree with Lizzy, partly. But I think you can include religion and still have your book relate to all audiences. It just depends on how you include it. If you spend pages and pages(or even just paragraphs) talking about it, that won't work. But if it's just a side-comment that this is what the character believes, and it's mentioned more as something that builds the character, I think that's fine. It's no different than saying a character is gay, or French, or likes to kick puppies. These are all things that build up your characters. And to some people, some things are going to be offensive. You can't please everyone. You shouldn't limit your audience by flooding your books with only your beliefs and your views, but that doesn't mean you have to remove it completely. It's part of your writing voice.

And I might include some things I don't approve of, but not in a positive light. But I won't add language, and I won't add vulgar things. Period.
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Re: Religion in your Writing

Post  Maggie on Mon Apr 25, 2011 4:45 pm

LOL Shahira! I totally understand. xD

@Constance I see what you're saying. There may come a day where I do that, but as of now I'm okay with just leaving it blank. Unless it's necessary to the story, I won't include it. Maybe in another character, but really rarely in the MC, since that's the one I want my readers to relate to. ^^

But yeah, I will put things I can't agree with in a negative light, if I put them in the story at all. I probably didn't put that right. I won't have my MC promoting things I can't support, or have those things on the "good side" in my novels (making them OK).

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Re: Religion in your Writing

Post  Taryn on Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:15 pm

Yay, glad I could be so thought-provoking right before I was kidnapped. Really interesting answers.

Lizzy, I agree that it limits your market to come out and be like "MC loves Jesus, church on Sundays" or whatever, but I think that, if you're really living your faith, elements of that will shine through.

I'm walking a really fine line right now with my dystopia, since something called the War of Religions wiped out legal religion, and something called Animation made people stop believing in a Creator. My MC, however, is always searching for "something more," and it's really interesting to give her that motivation without being preachy.

As for my last WiP . . . well, the character took over and ran away. She had the worst potty mouth ever (and IRL I don't swear), and was on the verge of having sex with her boyfriend. I had to step back and think, "Do I really want to be known for these kinds of things?" Needless to say, I shelved it, though it has potential for a rewrite.

The one I'm querying deals with the moral issues surrounding prostitution and redemption (like, forgiveness from person to person, not God to person) but not in an overwhelming way.

*shrug* I mostly agree with Constance I think.
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Re: Religion in your Writing

Post  Maggie on Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:57 pm

@Taryn Mm, I agreed with pretty much all you said. Yeah, I think whether or not I try, my faith will shine through, just because of the choices I make in the way my novels go. As of now, I've never had a need for religion in my novels, or to mention it. I think that's mostly because they're set in my own world, and despite some mentions of maybe my own created religions, I've never brought, say, Christianity in to the picture before. I like the way your story sounds, though. It's really thought-provoking! Sounds totally cool.

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Re: Religion in your Writing

Post  Constance on Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:48 am

*nods in agreement* I can see why, Lizzy. If it's not necessary to the story or the character's development, you shouldn't add it. That'd just be clutter.

@Taryn Wow, that sounds AMAZING. Shocked Smile
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Re: Religion in your Writing

Post  Matthew on Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:24 pm

I'm a bit late with this, but I thought I'd throw my 2 cents worth in. I'm a Christian, but I try to keep religion and my writing separate. As a few people before me said, I don't want to alienate someone who isn't religious or has different views. I don't specify what beliefs my characters have, if any, although my MC has similar morals to me.
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Re: Religion in your Writing

Post  Stephen on Mon May 09, 2011 6:53 pm

I use all the knowledge I have access to when I write which includes religion but it isn't very significant in what I write unless there is a specific reason Smile
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