Hello again everyone, two weeks ago I started a short series about the do’s and don’ts of including religion in your writing. In that post I focused on the important factor of who we are writing too and how that should direct the ways in which we include our religious perspective into our writing. This week I want to take a look at the reason for writing and how this factor influences the ways we can reveal our religion through our writing. Taking a moment to sit back and analyze the motivation behind any story or piece of writing can be an enlightening experience and has often helped to guide me to the end of what I was writing. When you know why you are writing something then you can also know when you have reached your goals. That being said, it can also show you that you’ve made some mistakes and need to correct a few scenes to make them flow better with your intended message.
When it comes to religion I think it is especially important to step aside and examine what are intentions for the story are and whether or not the story is meeting them in the most effective way. For example, if I were writing a story about redemption in order to point people to Jesus Christ it would not make sense to have every character redeem themselves individually throughout the story; there needs to be a collective redemption that they could not achieve without help. Likewise, if you are a Muslim writing a story to show the importance of ritual prayer it probably wouldn’t make sense to have the main character be someone who already participated in the prayers unless they are being used as an example for those around the who aren’t. Knowing the purpose behind our writing should keep us focused on our goals. It seems obvious, but if you want to portray a specific religious message through writing then it is important to be clear about what message we trying to send. Like knowing your intended audience limits the scope of assumptions you can make in a story, knowing your intended message limits what type of ways you can use to convey that message. Both of the purposes behind a given piece of writing, such as who you are writing to and what you are writing for, should act like the frame or outer edge of a puzzle for the entire story. It doesn’t mean you have the whole puzzle figured out yet, but it helps you to have a better idea of what pieces are going to go where. Furthermore, it is not as limiting as it may seem, or at least not in a negative sense of limiting. It narrows the scope of possibilities for your story but only inasmuch as it dictates the sensible paths for your story to take.