Religion in Fantasy

At some point during the world-building process, writers run into the issue of faith.  What do your characters believe in?  What is their religion, if they have one?  What religions are present in the world you’ve created and how do they affect that world?  Fantasy is usually not a godless place; in fact, it’s rift with religious ideas.

Fantasy books traditionally have polytheistic leanings because… well, it’s easiest.  The pantheon of gods and goddesses is often very active in the world, and special priests or priestesses known as “clerics” or holy warriors called “paladins” can call directly on their patron god/goddess for help in battle or healing.  It’s often indistinguishable from magic… but the source is divine.  Krynn from Dragonlance and Faerûn from The Forgotten Realms are two massive fantasy worlds with hundreds of books that have very active and localized pantheons.  In these worlds, there is no question about the existence of gods and goddesses because the effects of their power can be very clearly seen.  The afterlife of heaven and hell or somewhere in between is very, very real.

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Dealing with Discouragement

Recently, a friend and fellow writer told me they felt discouraged about writing. They were upset about so many people being unable to spot the differences between a good story and a bad story.  Real gems languish in dusty corners while insults to the English language fly off the shelves.  And not just books, but movies too.  Their question was: “If people can’t tell the difference between good and bad stories, why put forth the effort of crafting a really good story?”  Thinking out the rules of the world, creating three-dimensional characters, filling plot holes to make a seamless narrative…all of that takes work.  And if people don’t notice and don’t care, then why bother?

(NOTE: The movie links contain spoilers!)

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