Plot with some religious elements

by Alice

Hi! First of all, thanks for all the tips in this website. They are very helpful :) Now onto the question.

I'm writing a short novel wherein three girls are in search for something- for love, happiness, and the other one wants revenge. Now, throughout the story, the three learn lessons or morals regarding what they are looking for.

Now, I'm a Christian teen, and I'd like to add some religious views in this story. Such as "love doesn't necessarily come from a boy, but from God." Or maybe "don't rely on one person for your happiness." Or "you won't gain anything from having revenge."

I don't want it to be too righteous and religiously overpowering. Just a little dash of religious views every now and then for hidden messages, or something of that sort (probably like Narnia...Aslan symbolizes God and so on).

What do you think? THANKS!

Answer: My only suggestion is that whatever message you want your story to deliver, make sure its roots come from actual, honest experience, not a philosophical principle.

In other words, the authentic experience of someone discovering how to find happiness and fulfillment within themselves (call that God if you like) rather than needing other people to make them happy can be a powerful message. And if you know people who have undergone that journey, or if you have done so yourself, you have the wherewithal to write about it authentically.

However, if the message is just philosophy for you, not real life experience, then
it will be harder to write about the journey authentically. There is a risk that your story may seem superficial, preachy, and inauthentic.

This is often the problem with stories written by people who are zealous for a set of religious or philosophical beliefs, but those beliefs are based on "how things are supposed to be" rather than actual experience. Sometimes people get guilted into beliefs (e.g. all your friends are feeling it, why aren't you?). And sometimes zealous people are actually experiencing a kind of low-grade hysteria rather than genuine happiness. Because the writers aren't being honest with themselves, their stories come across as insincere.

It's like the idea of promoting school spirit. Real school spirit arises when teens have meaningful and positive relationships and achievements with their friends, teachers, and community. But sometimes schools that lack these things try to create spirit artificially.

When the spirit is genuine, no one has to tell you to "show school spirit" or try to make you feel guilty if you don't have it. Real school spirit happens on its own as a natural celebration of camaraderie.

If you haven't experienced some of the things you want your characters to experience, there's one last trick that can work...

Be brutally honest with yourself. Really think about your characters and what they are going through. Don't gloss over or exclude anything. When it comes to describing their inner journey, don't take the easy route. Don't let philosophy or principle override genuine thoughts and feelings.

Best of luck.

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