images (1)Whether we like it or not, everyone has a little bias on the subject religion. This is just a fact, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter what religion you ascribe to, or if you’re an atheist or agnostic, you have a bias on the subject of religion and this bias is going to show up in your writing. This is a blog primarily about writing, not religion, and so I want to discuss some of the ways to recognize your bias and use it to your benefit in your writing. The first thing I want to say regarding your religious bias is that it is not a bad thing– at least, it doesn’t have to be! The first thing to remember, and the main point of this post, is who your target audience is. If you’re a Christian author and you’re writing about important church topics like tithing then you’re going to be allowed to make certain assumption about the majority of people who are going to read your book. For example, most of them are going to be familiar with the word tithing and its origins in the Bible. Furthermore, you probably shouldn’t include a whole chapter on the plan of Salvation because most of your audience is already going to be a part of your religion; it’s just taking up a space. If you’re a Buddhist monk writing a children’s book we are going to read your work under that lens and expect to see Buddhist principles in the story. This is perfectly fine and acceptable. The main character may go through a series of events that leads him to understanding Buddhism as truth. This is also fine. What isn’t fine is writing a story for an outside audience in which your religious views are put forward as truth without some sort of character development that led to this realization. That is to say, you cannot just assume your views to be true and expect the audience to do the same unless you have a very limited intended audience. The best stories I’ve read are often those which, while intentionally containing certain underlying religious principles, present them as answers to questions raised by the plot of the story itself instead of using them as a foundation for putting forward other religious principles. In summary, religious principles should be discovered in the correct context, not shoved into the reader’s face like propaganda; and how this should be done depends on what you are writing and who you are writing to.

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