writing and no religion too

During my re-booting week I’ve taken my own advice, and I’m reading someone else’s novel. What a novel. Game of Thrones is an ambitious read, even for me. I love a long, complex book, but I’m not much of an epic fantasy fan. Intricate world building often  bores the hell out of me, but this book is different. Its rich and textured background makes me think about my own novel.

Turns out I left something big out of my characters’ world.

Religion.

Neither God nor gods  are mentioned anywhere in my book.

I‘ve thought about this a lot for the last few days. I know my novel by now. Every. Single. Word. There is one scene where a character performs a simple rite with his grandfather’s ashes. Only once in the entire story does anyone pray. However, I’ve never felt my characters were without spirituality. They do honor the dead, wonder about the infinite universe, carry talismans, and invoke magic – magic which works about as well as it does here on Earth. They are, for the most part, compassionate, trying to do as little harm as possible.

If I was writing an epic, I’m sure  religion would find its way into the struggles of my people. But within the confines of 100,000 words, it doesn’t. Or does it? In many human cultures, religion is  lived quietly day-to-day, lifetime to lifetime. The details of organized religion are so ingrained into our world that it would take only a few words to suggest the existence of worship and praise among my varied species and societies.

I haven’t decided whether I will or want to add this extra layer, even in the most subtle way.

Does your world building include religion? Is it necessary and, if like me, you have unintentionally omitted it, how would you weave it into your novel?

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