A Winding Tale

RSS

tianaveen:

"Tiana’s easter parade" from the book A princess easter

Happy Easter

Don't be a Dickens: Avoiding Purple Prose

writeworld:

nothing-can-be-gained asked: Where does the line between purple prose and vivid description lie? How can I tell if something I’ve written is purple prose-like?

You know when you read a book a get to a passage or a line and say, “Great Scott, the things I would do to be…

asianhistory:

Collective resources from Fordham University, upon request. Please note this post is edited to be Asia-Centric, though the original source does contain global LGBTQ information. All commentary is original to the source, and not Asian History’s. NOTE: Asianhistory cannot vouch for any of the following websites still being updated, in existence, or 100% helpful. 
Via Fordham University’s People with a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History, last updated 2007. 
Read More

asianhistory:

Collective resources from Fordham University, upon request. Please note this post is edited to be Asia-Centric, though the original source does contain global LGBTQ information. All commentary is original to the source, and not Asian History’s. NOTE: Asianhistory cannot vouch for any of the following websites still being updated, in existence, or 100% helpful. 

Via Fordham University’s People with a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History, last updated 2007. 

Read More

serrende answered: related question: does Snow White, like Cinderella, have many different versions across continents, or is it more contained to Europe?

Off the top of my head, I would assume so, since I do know that the tale is found in places outside Europe if only because of Sleeping Beauties, a collection of tales that are similar to “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty”.

There are tales from Europe, but also Morocco (!), Libya, Turkey, Algeria, Angola, Mozambique, Gabon, the United States, West Africa, and India (although most of the Indian tales are categorized as “More Sleeping Beauties” and contain aspects of both fairy tales or if specific to “Snow White”, I would have to check to see how many are actually similar).

Your question also reminds me that I’ve been meaning to do more research into the origin and range of the Snow White tale itself.

Research Masterpost part 1 (Fairytales/Folktales, Arthurian Legends)

elumish:

General

Wikipedia.org

Project Gutenberg

Fairy Tales/Folktales

http://www.worldoftales.com/

http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.html

http://hca.gilead.org.il/

http://germanstories.vcu.edu/grimm/grimm_menu.html

http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/japan.html

HowStuffWorks "Why is a tomato called a love apple?"

Apparently tomatoes, potatoes, and nightshade all come from the same genus Solanum. [List of species]

And according to dictionary.com a “love apple” is:

  1. a tropical, tender plant, Solanum aculeatissimum, of the nightshade family, having prickly leaves, clusters of large, star-shaped white flowers, and red, tomato-like fruit. 
  2. Archaic. the tomato.

Solanum aculeatissimum does not seem to have clear habitat origin, but a large portion of the Solanum genus is from Central America and South America, with some in Africa, a few in Asia, and other regions of the Americas and Pacific.

For example, the Solanum americanum or American nightshade or glossy nightshade is located from the Americas to Madagascar through the wide swath of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Southeast Asia. x | x | x |

Solanum americanum

image of Solanum americanum, Hi there! People confuse you with black nightshade!

So…with correlations to poison and apples, even by loose association, is anyone seeing a “Snow White” theme here? Put the fairy tale in Central or South America. Put it in Morocco (via trade from Spain who got tomatoes from the Aztec). Put it in Malaysia since Solanum americanum is actually poisonous, I believe. 

Or put it in a fantasy world based on the aforementioned cultures. It sounds like fun to me.

youngjusticer:

"Let it burn."
Queen of the Flame, by Rika Chan.

youngjusticer:

"Let it burn."

Queen of the Flame, by Rika Chan.

Is My Protagonist a Mary Sue or Gary Stu?: A Super Quick Test

thewritingcafe:

Mary Sues and Gary Stus are terrible characters. They are flat, static, and unrealistic. They are boring and they are craft failure. Don’t write them.

Does your protagonist change throughout the story?

  • If no: You need to change that. Your protagonist needs to be dynamic. They need to change…
thewritingcafe:

I did a post on religion a while ago, but I can do a better job with it.
Part I: World Building Considerations: Religious Hierarchies
Part II: World Building Considerations: Deities and Mythologies
THE BASICS
Religion is the belief that supernatural or spiritual powers exist.
There are four “branches” of beliefs that form the way a person feels about their religion (or lack of) and other religions. They are:
Theism: A theist believes in a god (or more).
Atheism: An atheist lacks the belief in a god (or more).
Gnosticism: A gnostic believes it is possible to know that a god (or more) does or does not exist.
Agnosticism: An agnostic believes that it is not possible to know that a god (or more) does or does not exist.
These create people who are one of the following (this can change throughout a person’s life):
Gnostic Theist: These characters believe in a god (or more) and are absolutely sure that it exists. Depending on the personality of this character, they might take offense if other people tell them they are wrong or that their religion is false. Others will brush it off and not care.
Agnostic Theist: These characters believe in a god (or more), but do not claim to know for sure if this god exists. These characters might struggle with their religion if this existence is important to them.
Gnostic Atheist: These characters are absolutely sure that there is no god (or more).
Agnostic Atheist: These characters do not believe in a god (or more), but do not claim to know of its existence for sure.
THE BEGINNINGS
Most early religions began with animism. This is when supernatural powers, life, souls, or spirits are attributed to the natural world as well as objects.
Sometimes, deities can be created when certain attributes as parts of the natural world are viewed as more important than others. A population may give a name to a particular spirit (like the sun) and thus make a deity out of it. Over time, this leads to polytheism.
The earliest deities were most likely female because back then, humans believed that women had the ability to create life from nothing. This is why “virgin” deities, goddesses, beings, and religious figures are common. They are seen as being able to make life by themselves, but the concept of virginity has changed to being “clean” or “pure”.
Early monotheistic religions often came from polytheism, but not always. What happens is one deity becomes more important than all the others for whatever reason. Here are some reasons for why monotheism might have come up in your world (with the exception of the spread of religion):
A person claims that one deity is the true deity. All other deities are slowly forgotten or reassigned as lesser religious beings, but not deities.
One deity may be more important than the other deities. Over time, this deity becomes the sole deity. All other deities are slowly forgotten or reassigned as lesser religious beings, but not deities.
A historical figure transforms into a deity over time through myth and legend, thus becoming a major deity.
One deity might “absorb” other deities and their attributes due to its importance, thus becoming a single deity who is a mixture of other deities.
Religion does not always evolve in this order and it does not have to. There is no “ultimate” form of religion. Monotheism is not “civilized” and animism is not “primitive”. They are both valid religions, they just exist in different ways.
One source of conflict for your story could be the switch from one form of religion to another. If polytheism is moving into monotheism, a minority of the population might be trying hard to hold onto old deities.
Of course, there are more types of religion other than animism, polytheism, and monotheism, such as naturalism. Look around at various religions for some inspiration.
NAME
The name! You have to name your religion. The followers of this religion need a name to refer to themselves by. You can also have names for the various branches of a religion or for the followers of a specific religious figure. If you’ve made up a language, you can use that language to create a name. You can also name the religion after a deity, a historical figure, or a religious figure. You can also name it after the founder of the religion.
ORIGINS
Where did this religion originate? With older religions, it might not be clear. Other religions have a clear start, or at least are known to have started in a specific area or with a specific person. If there is a founder of the religion, create this character and their history.
You also need an origin story for the world. A lot of religions have them.
REASON AND APPEAL
There are three general reasons for why people practice religion:
Sociological: Religion is used for cultural conformity. It unites a community through similar morals and values and can be used to control a population or to bring general peace among worldviews. If you can influence a person’s thoughts, you can control their actions.
Cognitive: Religion has been used to explain the unknown and to help people make sense of the world they live in. Myths, legends, and deities have been used to explain why the seasons change or why storms happen. Religion offers an explanation.
Psychological: People turn to religion in times of need or emotional struggle. They might turn to religion because they have a sick family member or they might turn to religion because they need an end to a drought. Having a reason to hold on (religion) can help people get through the hard times.
It’s common that all three reasons exist together, but one reason may outweigh another in an individual or a population. For example, in a time of famine, the majority of a population might turn to religion for reason 2. In a society with little understanding of science, the majority of the population might use religion for reason 1.
When creating a religion, think about why your characters are religious or why they are not religious. Think about situations that would make them approach religion. All characters will differ based on their personal needs, how religious they are, and how they were raised. Some characters might only turn to religion when they are extremely desperate.
SACRED TEXTS
A sacred text is a general term that refers to a text that is important to a religion. The Bible is an example. Sacred texts do not have to exist in a religion. Oral histories can take their place or exist alongside them.
If there is a sacred text, decide how it is supposed to be read. Some religious texts are meant to be read by a religious official, who teaches others what it says (the Bible). Other texts are meant to be ready by everyone and interpreted on an individual level (the Qur’an).
If the sacred text is meant to be read by a religious official and no one else, religious officials will be educated while most of the population will not be (depending on the society, available education, hierarchy, and technology available to spread written texts). Lack of literacy might be used to control the population.
Sacred texts might be a part of the government. If so, create laws carefully and make sure you know all the details about the religion and the government you’ve created.
Another option for a sacred text is one that is created by an individual or by a community. These sacred texts are filled with whatever information a person sees as important to the way they practice their religion. They may collect information through religious officials, oral histories, or their own experiences. These sacred texts can be passed down to another generation.
Here are some things you can put in a sacred text:
Historical Accounts: If a sacred text is just a historical account of a religion, you’ll need to come up with mythologies that fit into this text.
Laws & Guidelines: Sometimes, a sacred text is used to write down laws and guidelines of a religion.
Prayers, Songs, etc.: If prayers, chants, songs, and other spoken words are important to a religion or hold meaning, they might show up in a sacred text.
PLACE OF WORSHIP
Not all religions have a place of worship. However, places of worship can be as grand as the Hagia Sophia or they can be as simple as a personal altar in one’s home.
Within certain religions, such as Catholicism, there can be a hierarchy of places of worship. For example, a Cathedral is a church, but it also acts as the seat of a Bishop for a given area. Places of worship, in times when the majority of the population could not read, used lots of common symbols within the architecture so that people knew it was a place of worship for a certain religion. This is why many medieval religious buildings portray religious stories or figures within the architecture.
If there are places of worship in your world, put them in your story. If they are in a city or near a trading center, they might be more grand than others due to available resources. If a government official commissions one of these buildings, it will likely be large and detailed due to available expenses. Places of worship in isolated areas are likely to be smaller and simpler.
Make these places known in your world. Give them a feel. A lot of religious buildings are meant to give the feeling of grandness and divinity. Some might make a person feel small and insignificant. Give these buildings a demeanor. This will help readers get a feel for this religion while also setting the mood and tone for the scene.
BELIEFS
Create the main beliefs and philosophies of your religion. This will impact your society as a whole. However, there should be differing opinions and beliefs within a religion. People are going to interpret parts of a religion in different ways and will have different opinions on how to approach a religion.
Opposing Forces: Some religions have opposing forces within it, such as good vs evil. Some religions don’t have opposing forces and rather see everything just as it is without attributing morality. Decide how your religion views the world.
Opposing Forces 2: This refers to the opinions of people within the religion. Having differing opinions within a religion can be mild, but it can also be extreme. The latter can cause lots of conflict and even a split in religion, creating two different branches or a new religion altogether.
Common Values: The main values and morals of this religion will affect the way your characters think and behave, even if they are not religious. Being raised around this religion can sway their opinions. This might create conflict for your characters when faced with a decision that goes against what they were raised with.
Afterlife: Everyone, at one point, wonders what happens when we die. As I mentioned above, religion is often used to explain the unknown. What is the afterlife in this religion? If there are no opposing forces of good vs evil, there will probably not be a hell-like place.
Sins: You don’t need to put sins in your religion, but it can help with conflict and character morals. Decide what this religion has outlawed or what it has looked down upon. If you want, sins can become law through the government.
Other Religions: For a post on what happens when other cultures come in contact with each other, look at the lower part of this post. Sometimes, religions can exist peacefully side by side.
Like I said, beliefs will impact your characters and the world they grew up in. People are a part of whatever culture they were raised in and it’s impossible to completely cut off those ties. The morals, values, and beliefs of your world’s religion impacts your characters in a much larger way than you think.
BRANCHES
Lots of religions have different sub-religions, branches, and denominations. If the religion you have created it widespread, it’s likely that this religion will have sub-religions and different forms of worship. If a religion has influence on another religion, those religions might end up combining.
Region: Different branches of a religion tend to be dominant in certain regions, even in multi-cultural places. Decide where certain branches are more common or where they are limited to.
Interaction: Two different branches within a religion might hate each other to such extremities that war can occur. This is another source of conflict for your fictional world.
Difference of Beliefs: If applicable to your story, think up some differences between the branches of religion.
VISIBILITY
Religion should be seen in your story if you make up one. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a huge part or if none of the characters are extremely religious. If you have created a religion, it should  have some visibility. It could influence language, dress, architecture, holidays, and more.
Architecture: This will most likely be places of worship, but religion can appear in all types of buildings and structures. Certain symbols might be seen in windows or on doors. Certain architectural styles might hold symbolic meaning, like how tall buildings are seen as reaching up to the heavens and therefore are seen as divine.
Clothing: Religious clothing can be obvious or subtle, but it still affects fashion. People might mimic the style of a religious figure or they might wear something that shows which deity they worship. If you show this, you can let the reader know what certain characters value. For example, wearing a certain symbol in the form of a pin might show that a person worships the deity of bravery, thus showing that this character values bravery.
Language: People mention parts of their religion in common phrases all the time, sometimes without realizing it. You can come up with exclamations and common phrases in your world through their religion.
Calendars: A lot of calendars surround important dates in religion. If you’re looking where to put year zero, go to religion. Did someone important die in that year? Were they born? Did something else important happen?
SYMBOL
Most religions have some kind of symbol. This symbol is often important to that religion (like the cross for Christianity). Creating a symbol can add depth to your world while also bringing reality to this religion. You can put this symbol in various places to help show readers where this religion has spread.
It’s not necessary to have a symbol.
POPULARITY
Decide how far this religion has spread and what people think about it. Religions, if small, are sometimes viewed as cults. If they gain popularity and start overcoming another dominant religion, they might be seen as threats.
Region: Know the region that your religion has spread to. There can be small regions within larger regions that resist this religion. If your characters are traveling, knowing the boundaries of this religion can help you create scenes and cultures that have this religious influence.
Subscribers: Decide how many people subscribe to this religion. If this is the dominant religion in a region, this religion will be more visible in your world.
Influence: Religion has massive influence on culture. If you are writing a world where religion is important, it will greatly influence your characters’ lives and worlds.
Spread: Does this religion have a goal to spread to other places? If so, your religious characters might try to convert others or there might be conflict with the spread of religion.
JOINING
Is there a certain way to join this religion? Many religions have rituals, ceremonies, and initiations that are used to accept a person into that religion.
Invitation: A few religions are invitation-only. This can be rigid or more free. A rigid invitation means that only a certain person can invite others into this religion. For example, if a person wants to bring a friend into their religion, they might have to bring their friend to a religious official to get permission. Less rigid invitations can be as simple as allowing any member of a religion to bring in others.
Open: An open religion allows anyone to join whether they were invited or not. These religions can spread fast while invitation-only religions are able to stay small and private for a longer period of time.
The Initiator: Who performs the ceremony? Most often, it is a religious official, but it doesn’t have to be.
The Ceremony: How they are brought into a religion? What happens during the ceremony? How long does it take? Are there any preparations that need to be made? Does it have to happen at a certain age? If so, your characters might have to go through this.
Birth: Most people are born into a religion. Sometimes, they are given the choice to leave this religion at a certain age or they can be officially initiated (like within some Amish communities). This might cause stress for characters if they come of this age and if their parents or guardians are expecting them to turn a certain way.
Forced: Sometimes, people are forced to join a religion.
RELIGIONS IN YOUR WORLD
It’s realistic to have more than one religion present. They don’t have to exist equally and probably won’t.
Outlawed: An outlawed religion is one that is not allowed to be practiced. What are the punishments for practicing an outlawed religion? Why are they outlawed?
Minority: A minority religion is simply one that has a lesser amount of followers than a dominant religion. They do not have to be oppressed religions.
Oppressed: An oppressed religion is one that may or may not have been outlawed and one that is rejected by society as a whole. Practitioners experience discrimination. What this discrimination is depends on you.
Dominant: The dominant religion is the one that is most common in a given region. It does not have to be oppressive to other religions.
Secret: Secret religions are unknown to the general population and are invitation-only.
Mythical: Mythical religions are secret religions that may or may not exist. The general population might have conspiracies about the existence, but they have no hard proof.
Dead: These religions are no longer practiced.
Revived: These are religions that were previously dead, but revived by a population. The practices in the revival will not be the same as the original religion.
GENERAL QUESTIONS
What is the dominant religion in your character’s region? How do they feel about it? Is it their religion? Do they agree with the dominant opinions?
How much power does religion have? Are government rulers considered divine or close to divinity? Is religion above the law? Does it dictate your character’s world?
What is the most well known story? What does this story explain? Does it give morals or does it explain a natural occurrence? Or something else? How does this story affect your characters and their world?
How important is religion to your character? Do they turn to religion in times of need? Do they take offense if someone puts down their religion? Do they try to spread their religion?
Why do people follow this religion? Did it appear in a time of need? Or is it used as an explanation? Does it bring a community together? Is there a reward (like in the afterlife)? Were they forced to convert?
What sacred days are there? Are there any at all? If so, how are these days viewed? How often do they come along? What do they celebrate?
How did this religion spread? Some religions spread unintentionally, as do languages and other cultures. The Phoenicians never had the intention of conquest, only trade. Their trade led to widespread cultural exchange. Was your religion spread on purpose? Is it actively spread? Was it forced upon a population?
How does the environment affect religion? Available resource might determine what is used for places of worship. Weather might create deities. Positions of the sun might create holidays. Geography in general might impact the origin story of the world.
How does this religion feel about various topics like marriage, death, sex, sexuality, drugs, magic, incest, and murder? What this religion says about such topics will determine what is considered “the norm” in your world and how your characters act. If incest is considered a sin rather than just taboo, people might be afraid to get too close to their sibling.
What conflict does this religion create? Does it create internal conflict for your character? Does it create wars or fights between people? Is it dangerous for your character to travel in a certain area because of their religion?
How does this religion impact your character’s outlook on life? Religion shapes the way a person perceives the world. It impacts whether they see a person as a villain or as a hero and how they feel about everything in general.

thewritingcafe:

I did a post on religion a while ago, but I can do a better job with it.

Part I: World Building Considerations: Religious Hierarchies

Part II: World Building Considerations: Deities and Mythologies

THE BASICS

Religion is the belief that supernatural or spiritual powers exist.

There are four “branches” of beliefs that form the way a person feels about their religion (or lack of) and other religions. They are:

  • Theism: A theist believes in a god (or more).
  • Atheism: An atheist lacks the belief in a god (or more).
  • Gnosticism: A gnostic believes it is possible to know that a god (or more) does or does not exist.
  • Agnosticism: An agnostic believes that it is not possible to know that a god (or more) does or does not exist.

These create people who are one of the following (this can change throughout a person’s life):

  • Gnostic Theist: These characters believe in a god (or more) and are absolutely sure that it exists. Depending on the personality of this character, they might take offense if other people tell them they are wrong or that their religion is false. Others will brush it off and not care.
  • Agnostic Theist: These characters believe in a god (or more), but do not claim to know for sure if this god exists. These characters might struggle with their religion if this existence is important to them.
  • Gnostic Atheist: These characters are absolutely sure that there is no god (or more).
  • Agnostic Atheist: These characters do not believe in a god (or more), but do not claim to know of its existence for sure.

THE BEGINNINGS

Most early religions began with animism. This is when supernatural powers, life, souls, or spirits are attributed to the natural world as well as objects.

Sometimes, deities can be created when certain attributes as parts of the natural world are viewed as more important than others. A population may give a name to a particular spirit (like the sun) and thus make a deity out of it. Over time, this leads to polytheism.

The earliest deities were most likely female because back then, humans believed that women had the ability to create life from nothing. This is why “virgin” deities, goddesses, beings, and religious figures are common. They are seen as being able to make life by themselves, but the concept of virginity has changed to being “clean” or “pure”.

Early monotheistic religions often came from polytheism, but not always. What happens is one deity becomes more important than all the others for whatever reason. Here are some reasons for why monotheism might have come up in your world (with the exception of the spread of religion):

  • A person claims that one deity is the true deity. All other deities are slowly forgotten or reassigned as lesser religious beings, but not deities.
  • One deity may be more important than the other deities. Over time, this deity becomes the sole deity. All other deities are slowly forgotten or reassigned as lesser religious beings, but not deities.
  • A historical figure transforms into a deity over time through myth and legend, thus becoming a major deity.
  • One deity might “absorb” other deities and their attributes due to its importance, thus becoming a single deity who is a mixture of other deities.

Religion does not always evolve in this order and it does not have to. There is no “ultimate” form of religion. Monotheism is not “civilized” and animism is not “primitive”. They are both valid religions, they just exist in different ways.

One source of conflict for your story could be the switch from one form of religion to another. If polytheism is moving into monotheism, a minority of the population might be trying hard to hold onto old deities.

Of course, there are more types of religion other than animism, polytheism, and monotheism, such as naturalism. Look around at various religions for some inspiration.

NAME

The name! You have to name your religion. The followers of this religion need a name to refer to themselves by. You can also have names for the various branches of a religion or for the followers of a specific religious figure. If you’ve made up a language, you can use that language to create a name. You can also name the religion after a deity, a historical figure, or a religious figure. You can also name it after the founder of the religion.

ORIGINS

Where did this religion originate? With older religions, it might not be clear. Other religions have a clear start, or at least are known to have started in a specific area or with a specific person. If there is a founder of the religion, create this character and their history.

You also need an origin story for the world. A lot of religions have them.

REASON AND APPEAL

There are three general reasons for why people practice religion:

  1. Sociological: Religion is used for cultural conformity. It unites a community through similar morals and values and can be used to control a population or to bring general peace among worldviews. If you can influence a person’s thoughts, you can control their actions.
  2. Cognitive: Religion has been used to explain the unknown and to help people make sense of the world they live in. Myths, legends, and deities have been used to explain why the seasons change or why storms happen. Religion offers an explanation.
  3. Psychological: People turn to religion in times of need or emotional struggle. They might turn to religion because they have a sick family member or they might turn to religion because they need an end to a drought. Having a reason to hold on (religion) can help people get through the hard times.

It’s common that all three reasons exist together, but one reason may outweigh another in an individual or a population. For example, in a time of famine, the majority of a population might turn to religion for reason 2. In a society with little understanding of science, the majority of the population might use religion for reason 1.

When creating a religion, think about why your characters are religious or why they are not religious. Think about situations that would make them approach religion. All characters will differ based on their personal needs, how religious they are, and how they were raised. Some characters might only turn to religion when they are extremely desperate.

SACRED TEXTS

A sacred text is a general term that refers to a text that is important to a religion. The Bible is an example. Sacred texts do not have to exist in a religion. Oral histories can take their place or exist alongside them.

If there is a sacred text, decide how it is supposed to be read. Some religious texts are meant to be read by a religious official, who teaches others what it says (the Bible). Other texts are meant to be ready by everyone and interpreted on an individual level (the Qur’an).

  • If the sacred text is meant to be read by a religious official and no one else, religious officials will be educated while most of the population will not be (depending on the society, available education, hierarchy, and technology available to spread written texts). Lack of literacy might be used to control the population.

Sacred texts might be a part of the government. If so, create laws carefully and make sure you know all the details about the religion and the government you’ve created.

Another option for a sacred text is one that is created by an individual or by a community. These sacred texts are filled with whatever information a person sees as important to the way they practice their religion. They may collect information through religious officials, oral histories, or their own experiences. These sacred texts can be passed down to another generation.

Here are some things you can put in a sacred text:

  • Historical Accounts: If a sacred text is just a historical account of a religion, you’ll need to come up with mythologies that fit into this text.
  • Laws & Guidelines: Sometimes, a sacred text is used to write down laws and guidelines of a religion.
  • Prayers, Songs, etc.: If prayers, chants, songs, and other spoken words are important to a religion or hold meaning, they might show up in a sacred text.

PLACE OF WORSHIP

Not all religions have a place of worship. However, places of worship can be as grand as the Hagia Sophia or they can be as simple as a personal altar in one’s home.

Within certain religions, such as Catholicism, there can be a hierarchy of places of worship. For example, a Cathedral is a church, but it also acts as the seat of a Bishop for a given area. Places of worship, in times when the majority of the population could not read, used lots of common symbols within the architecture so that people knew it was a place of worship for a certain religion. This is why many medieval religious buildings portray religious stories or figures within the architecture.

If there are places of worship in your world, put them in your story. If they are in a city or near a trading center, they might be more grand than others due to available resources. If a government official commissions one of these buildings, it will likely be large and detailed due to available expenses. Places of worship in isolated areas are likely to be smaller and simpler.

Make these places known in your world. Give them a feel. A lot of religious buildings are meant to give the feeling of grandness and divinity. Some might make a person feel small and insignificant. Give these buildings a demeanor. This will help readers get a feel for this religion while also setting the mood and tone for the scene.

BELIEFS

Create the main beliefs and philosophies of your religion. This will impact your society as a whole. However, there should be differing opinions and beliefs within a religion. People are going to interpret parts of a religion in different ways and will have different opinions on how to approach a religion.

  • Opposing Forces: Some religions have opposing forces within it, such as good vs evil. Some religions don’t have opposing forces and rather see everything just as it is without attributing morality. Decide how your religion views the world.
  • Opposing Forces 2: This refers to the opinions of people within the religion. Having differing opinions within a religion can be mild, but it can also be extreme. The latter can cause lots of conflict and even a split in religion, creating two different branches or a new religion altogether.
  • Common Values: The main values and morals of this religion will affect the way your characters think and behave, even if they are not religious. Being raised around this religion can sway their opinions. This might create conflict for your characters when faced with a decision that goes against what they were raised with.
  • Afterlife: Everyone, at one point, wonders what happens when we die. As I mentioned above, religion is often used to explain the unknown. What is the afterlife in this religion? If there are no opposing forces of good vs evil, there will probably not be a hell-like place.
  • Sins: You don’t need to put sins in your religion, but it can help with conflict and character morals. Decide what this religion has outlawed or what it has looked down upon. If you want, sins can become law through the government.
  • Other Religions: For a post on what happens when other cultures come in contact with each other, look at the lower part of this post. Sometimes, religions can exist peacefully side by side.

Like I said, beliefs will impact your characters and the world they grew up in. People are a part of whatever culture they were raised in and it’s impossible to completely cut off those ties. The morals, values, and beliefs of your world’s religion impacts your characters in a much larger way than you think.

BRANCHES

Lots of religions have different sub-religions, branches, and denominations. If the religion you have created it widespread, it’s likely that this religion will have sub-religions and different forms of worship. If a religion has influence on another religion, those religions might end up combining.

  • Region: Different branches of a religion tend to be dominant in certain regions, even in multi-cultural places. Decide where certain branches are more common or where they are limited to.
  • Interaction: Two different branches within a religion might hate each other to such extremities that war can occur. This is another source of conflict for your fictional world.
  • Difference of Beliefs: If applicable to your story, think up some differences between the branches of religion.

VISIBILITY

Religion should be seen in your story if you make up one. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a huge part or if none of the characters are extremely religious. If you have created a religion, it should  have some visibility. It could influence language, dress, architecture, holidays, and more.

  • Architecture: This will most likely be places of worship, but religion can appear in all types of buildings and structures. Certain symbols might be seen in windows or on doors. Certain architectural styles might hold symbolic meaning, like how tall buildings are seen as reaching up to the heavens and therefore are seen as divine.
  • Clothing: Religious clothing can be obvious or subtle, but it still affects fashion. People might mimic the style of a religious figure or they might wear something that shows which deity they worship. If you show this, you can let the reader know what certain characters value. For example, wearing a certain symbol in the form of a pin might show that a person worships the deity of bravery, thus showing that this character values bravery.
  • Language: People mention parts of their religion in common phrases all the time, sometimes without realizing it. You can come up with exclamations and common phrases in your world through their religion.
  • Calendars: A lot of calendars surround important dates in religion. If you’re looking where to put year zero, go to religion. Did someone important die in that year? Were they born? Did something else important happen?

SYMBOL

Most religions have some kind of symbol. This symbol is often important to that religion (like the cross for Christianity). Creating a symbol can add depth to your world while also bringing reality to this religion. You can put this symbol in various places to help show readers where this religion has spread.

It’s not necessary to have a symbol.

POPULARITY

Decide how far this religion has spread and what people think about it. Religions, if small, are sometimes viewed as cults. If they gain popularity and start overcoming another dominant religion, they might be seen as threats.

  • Region: Know the region that your religion has spread to. There can be small regions within larger regions that resist this religion. If your characters are traveling, knowing the boundaries of this religion can help you create scenes and cultures that have this religious influence.
  • Subscribers: Decide how many people subscribe to this religion. If this is the dominant religion in a region, this religion will be more visible in your world.
  • Influence: Religion has massive influence on culture. If you are writing a world where religion is important, it will greatly influence your characters’ lives and worlds.
  • Spread: Does this religion have a goal to spread to other places? If so, your religious characters might try to convert others or there might be conflict with the spread of religion.

JOINING

Is there a certain way to join this religion? Many religions have rituals, ceremonies, and initiations that are used to accept a person into that religion.

  • Invitation: A few religions are invitation-only. This can be rigid or more free. A rigid invitation means that only a certain person can invite others into this religion. For example, if a person wants to bring a friend into their religion, they might have to bring their friend to a religious official to get permission. Less rigid invitations can be as simple as allowing any member of a religion to bring in others.
  • Open: An open religion allows anyone to join whether they were invited or not. These religions can spread fast while invitation-only religions are able to stay small and private for a longer period of time.
  • The Initiator: Who performs the ceremony? Most often, it is a religious official, but it doesn’t have to be.
  • The Ceremony: How they are brought into a religion? What happens during the ceremony? How long does it take? Are there any preparations that need to be made? Does it have to happen at a certain age? If so, your characters might have to go through this.
  • Birth: Most people are born into a religion. Sometimes, they are given the choice to leave this religion at a certain age or they can be officially initiated (like within some Amish communities). This might cause stress for characters if they come of this age and if their parents or guardians are expecting them to turn a certain way.
  • Forced: Sometimes, people are forced to join a religion.

RELIGIONS IN YOUR WORLD

It’s realistic to have more than one religion present. They don’t have to exist equally and probably won’t.

  • Outlawed: An outlawed religion is one that is not allowed to be practiced. What are the punishments for practicing an outlawed religion? Why are they outlawed?
  • Minority: A minority religion is simply one that has a lesser amount of followers than a dominant religion. They do not have to be oppressed religions.
  • Oppressed: An oppressed religion is one that may or may not have been outlawed and one that is rejected by society as a whole. Practitioners experience discrimination. What this discrimination is depends on you.
  • Dominant: The dominant religion is the one that is most common in a given region. It does not have to be oppressive to other religions.
  • Secret: Secret religions are unknown to the general population and are invitation-only.
  • Mythical: Mythical religions are secret religions that may or may not exist. The general population might have conspiracies about the existence, but they have no hard proof.
  • Dead: These religions are no longer practiced.
  • Revived: These are religions that were previously dead, but revived by a population. The practices in the revival will not be the same as the original religion.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

  • What is the dominant religion in your character’s region? How do they feel about it? Is it their religion? Do they agree with the dominant opinions?
  • How much power does religion have? Are government rulers considered divine or close to divinity? Is religion above the law? Does it dictate your character’s world?
  • What is the most well known story? What does this story explain? Does it give morals or does it explain a natural occurrence? Or something else? How does this story affect your characters and their world?
  • How important is religion to your character? Do they turn to religion in times of need? Do they take offense if someone puts down their religion? Do they try to spread their religion?
  • Why do people follow this religion? Did it appear in a time of need? Or is it used as an explanation? Does it bring a community together? Is there a reward (like in the afterlife)? Were they forced to convert?
  • What sacred days are there? Are there any at all? If so, how are these days viewed? How often do they come along? What do they celebrate?
  • How did this religion spread? Some religions spread unintentionally, as do languages and other cultures. The Phoenicians never had the intention of conquest, only trade. Their trade led to widespread cultural exchange. Was your religion spread on purpose? Is it actively spread? Was it forced upon a population?
  • How does the environment affect religion? Available resource might determine what is used for places of worship. Weather might create deities. Positions of the sun might create holidays. Geography in general might impact the origin story of the world.
  • How does this religion feel about various topics like marriage, death, sex, sexuality, drugs, magic, incest, and murder? What this religion says about such topics will determine what is considered “the norm” in your world and how your characters act. If incest is considered a sin rather than just taboo, people might be afraid to get too close to their sibling.
  • What conflict does this religion create? Does it create internal conflict for your character? Does it create wars or fights between people? Is it dangerous for your character to travel in a certain area because of their religion?
  • How does this religion impact your character’s outlook on life? Religion shapes the way a person perceives the world. It impacts whether they see a person as a villain or as a hero and how they feel about everything in general.

Dear internet,

trailofdesire:

magpieandwhale:

trailofdesire:

emilysidhe:

ambienne:

Please give me all the advice you have on writing cover letters. Like, the closer you can get to literally just writing a cover letter for me, the better. Ok bye.

This is how I did the one for my…