It only occurred to me a year or so ago that religion is crucial to the creation of culture. (Case and point, Elantris by Brandon Sanderson.)
I don’t think a story has to have religion to be good, but it’s something to consider. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series steers away from religious beliefs—I think Bella mentions in some clause somewhere that she’s never believed in it, and that’s that. The books are successful, no religion necessary. There are a handful of epic and heroic fantasy novels that don’t dwell in religion either. (Call to readers: posts ones you know of in comments for fun-times’ sake.)
Anyway, religion has become larger and larger in my writing as it’s progressed. I remember, in the planning process of TR, coming up with a central plot feature and being surprised that it was entirely religious. (Of course, when you come up with story ideas whilst sitting in church, that’s bound to happen.)
A lot of writers insert their beliefs and moral code into what they write, whether they intend to or not. I don’t. At least, I don’t think I do. For me, fantasy is something entirely different from my actual life. As far as I know, I’ve never preached in my books. But, as I get deeper into TR, I find my characters soul-searching (literally) more than I thought they would. At the end of chapter 13, I think, “Huh, isn’t that interesting. More work for me, as now I have to keep this up.”
Quote a la Day:
“I think . . .” Esrov hesitated, starting up the same path Ranny had, “I think it’s my soul.”
“Soul?” Todorov asked. “Do we have souls?”
“Shouldn’t we?” he countered, staring at his feet. “What else makes us live the way we do, makes us more than just another animal in the woods?”
Todorov shrugged. “Brains, I guess. I don’t know, I guess I never thought about it. I mean, if we have something more than that, then . . .” He paused, rubbing his head. “Goads, I don’t know. I hate this philosophical stuff.”
Who could know the sorts of things
That make a body whole?
But when I cut into my skin,
I cannot see a soul.
-The Raimos, Chapter 13