For those of you who follow my writing may have noticed a theme in my writing; I tend to reference religion and mythology a lot. I don’t want to get into my person religion here, it’s not the time or place and I don’t want the argument. Religion is just like that. I would like to discuss the use of religion in writing.
Fantasy novels have writers making religions with dozens of gods. That’s great for novels, but I’m a short story writer first and foremost. In a short story, you don’t have time to describe a religion. If you did it would be a waste of space where something interesting could be happening.
Thus enters the real world religion. Christianity, especially Catholicism, has a rich history of magical creatures. It has good vs evil and larger than life heroes. In the US, everyone has a passing knowledge of Christianity. Why not use this to add depth to a character?
I am a dark fantasy writer, so I gravitate towards demons vs angels. In a story I have been working on for some time now I do include an Angel. I make a point of making it as nuanced and powerful as any demon I present. Any real religion should always be treated with respect. This is the case even when you are presenting it as an antagonist.
Those of you who have read The Unwrapping will notice I present the priest as hostile towards the main character. This makes him look like the bad guy but turn it around. He is a priest confronted by a known practitioner of demonology. I think with him as the hero the actions would be a noble soul confronting a dark one.
I have looked at other religions as well. In Astrea’s Temple, I present both Persian and Greek deities. In my Instagram story Through His Eyes I mention the Unseelie. They are evil fairies from places like Ireland and Wales. It is likely before Christianity the fairies were gods.
To me, if you are writing why not grab some deep, meaningful beliefs. Written properly you can use it to enhance a character by making them religious. This can make the reader relate to or despise the character. Save the 500 page dissertation on the Gods, History, and Beliefs of your world to Tolkien and George RR Martin(Doesn’t he have 4 or 5 religions in A Song of Fire and Ice?)