Faith is a very big part of my life, but as a writer I minimized it in my stories. Often implied, but never discussed outright because I didn’t want to be perceived as preaching. Miserere: An Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock embraced religion in her fantasy world and reveled in it.
Religion in Fantasy Worlds
The best epic fantasy writers I know created a whole new religion, sometimes multiple religions, and incorporated them in their fantasy worlds. They may resemble the religions we have today, but they are distinguished as fictional belief systems to be more acceptable to all audiences. Because religions tend to be very exclusive and non-accepting of other belief systems. In Miserere, the author clearly used the Christian belief system in her tale – even quoting from the Bible. She used the Psalms as weapons to harness God’s energy.
Preaching in Writing
My stories often have a moral lesson, but I shy away from outright preaching. I’m not sure if I successfully do so though. In Miserere, the lesson was about repentance and forgiveness – of not losing hope and taking the opportunity to do better when second chances present themselves. It is my favorite kind of story – the one where you don’t give up on broken people. I didn’t feel like the author was preaching. She used her religion’s teachings as elements in her story, nothing more.
I think the scariest tales are those based in truth. When an author takes elements from religion where readers often base their truths and show us how these truths can be corrupted by evil intentions – it is a very effective way to inject horror into a story. Because though what we believe in, our faith, is pure and holy – religion gives individuals the power to twist its teachings to serve their own interests. And those who are not vigilant may be led astray. I will stop preaching now. My take alway is that religion is a rich jumping off point for mystery, horror, and even a good love story.