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March 6, 2019

In our continuing series on world building, you cannot forget about “relijjin.” Yup, that often uncomfortable subject that quite often gets people riled up, fired up, on their toes and ready to rumble. There are many ways to use belief systems that color your world. We’ll discuss that now.


There’s no rule book that says you have to use religion in any book you write. It’s purely a matter of taste and whether the story calls for it. It can be a matter of plot or just color. If neither calls for it, don’t add it “juss cuz.” There has to be a reason. On the other hand, if you’re creating a world, such as in fantasy, it adds more realism and color to have real-world cultural thingies like religion, just as there are different languages.


This plays into regions as much as the characters you utilize in the story. If you’re in South America, Catholicism is going to play into local religion. If you’re in the Middle East, Islam is going to be hard to avoid.

Here in the You Ess And A, it can be a mixed bag of beliefs and you can go with one of hundreds of beliefs based on region, or any grab bag you want.

On the other hand, you can mention no religion at all if you choose. It doesn’t HAVE to be part of your world.

I must mention that by religion, this could also include atheism and agnostic and non-religious beliefs, because after all, they are beliefs – philosophies of life. If they somehow play a key role in the story, use them.


In world building for fantasy and science fiction, religion and belief systems are hard to ignore when creating your world. They’re integral parts of almost any society. With that comes the complexity of rules, prejudices, rituals, icons, and all the trappings. How far you want to go with it is up to you.

Does said religion dominate the story?

Does it only play a minor role?

Does this religion affect the plot?

Is this religion just color?


This is where things get dicey.

It’s one thing to add real-world authenticity to your story, regardless of genre. It’s quite another to add an agenda. If it’s simply reflecting your observations of the world, fine.

On the other hand, if you have an agenda, watch out.

If you’re out to preach, you could alienate a lot of readers.

You have to step carefully when you add in a religion and start doing stuff with it that comes off not only as preachy, but promoting a specific agenda.

If you slip a bit of philosophy in and not shove it down the reader’s throat, that’s one thing.

If you bludgeon them over the head with it, jerk them out of the story with blatant preaching or bashing, you’ve not only violated their trust, but alienated them as future readers.

What you now have done is made yourself a pariah.


Religion can be used to great effect to color your world. It can also be avoided if so desired. Either way, if used correctly, it’s a tool to help your world come to life. Used incorrectly, it can ruin a good thing.

Choose wisely, Grasshopper!

Happy writing!

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