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Characterization: Religion and Fiction Characters

It seems today that in a lot of our literature, movies, and television shows, writers tend to ignore the spiritual aspects of human beings. I wonder why that is. To be religious and spiritual is a common human trait, one that is shared by over 90% of the world population. There are approximately 2 billion Christians, 1.5 billion Muslims, and 1 billion Hindus. In America, when we hear the word spiritual or religious, we tend to think of Christians. By making your characters spiritual, I’m not saying they have to be Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist or Jewish. They could be of Taoism or Confucianism or Shinto or even part of an African tribal religion.

Most of the novels I read are historical fiction set in the Middle Ages or fantasy, and those novels tend to have a fair amount of religious influence. But it seems in mainstream literature today and television, there is a departure from characters with religious beliefs. It’s refreshing to see shows like Lost that have spirtual characters (John Locke and Eco), but it seems these types of programs are becoming more and more rare. In writing, it’s important not to exclude the spiritual traits of various people; it’s these traits, after all, that will make your characters real and ultimately human.

2 thoughts on “Characterization: Religion and Fiction Characters”

  1. I just wrote a review for the film “I Am Legend” which features a main character (Will Smith) who has lost his faith. He no longer believes in God, providential care, or anything spiritual. His cynicism is contrasted with another character who is driven firmly by a spiritual belief. You can read the review at

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