PDA

View Full Version : Paganism in Your Writing



Spy_on_the_Inside
03-19-2012, 05:11 AM
Recently, the threads have been talking about how we can incorperate our Pagan beliefs into our writing, and this has been something that has always perplexed me. Non-fiction is certainly a way we can give an accurate portrayl of our beliefs, but what about fiction.

My writing mentor always told me you should never write a story with the message in mind, otherwise you will only come up with a preachy story that no one will even want to read. I have found this to be very true, even when I write just short stories about Paganism. After all, how can you present a picture of Paganism to the world when it comes in the form of a story no one will want to read?

So what are some ways we can create a balancing act? Featuring Paganism in a story without presenting a positive face being the primary focus and everybody knows it? How can Pagan beliefs be an aspect of a story, without being the primary one, and show people a picture of Paganism we would like them to see without shoving it down their throats?

thothguard51
03-19-2012, 05:27 AM
In SF&F, there are lots of beliefs shown in stories. Paganism is very strong in fantasy, especially historical fantasy that deals with time periods in which paganism thrived.

For an example, read the Saxon Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. Set in Britain between 900 AD and 1000 AD. Cornwell also has a series about Arthur, in which Merlin is trying to bring back the true gods of Britain, and paganism and druid are a very strong part of the story...

DeleyanLee
03-19-2012, 09:00 AM
Show the pagan characters as positive people, as heroes, without necessarily painting Christians/non-pagans as total villains. Being fair-handed to the various faiths and showing them as equal, but different, is a big start, IMO.

The simple definition of "hero" and "villain" are examples of the story's ultimate "Good" and "Evil" which the author has to define for every book. A character's religious beliefs will tie into those definitions and story jobs.

Doesn't have to heavy-handed or preachy at all.

Mr Flibble
03-19-2012, 01:44 PM
For me, personally (and excepting the historical in my sig where there's real world paganism*) I don't address it. That is, I don't set out to, but I suspect it kind of leaks through anyway in my characters, how they view their religions (or lack of them)

Your worldview will influence what you write, almost certainly, and how you write it. If you want to be subtle, maybe that's all you need?

*For the real world historical, I was at pains to show the positives and negatives of both the pagans and the Christians. Flat characters taht just represent a religion (for instance) don't often help the story, but a fully realised character can shed subtle light on subjects without overwhelming.

So, I'd concentrate on writing the best story you can. If you really want, you can tweak after the story is finished, but I find when I re-read it's painfully obvious! (To me, if not to anyone else :D)

gothicangel
03-19-2012, 11:42 PM
*For the real world historical, I was at pains to show the positives and negatives of both the pagans and the Christians. Flat characters taht just represent a religion (for instance) don't often help the story, but a fully realised character can shed subtle light on subjects without overwhelming.

So, I'd concentrate on writing the best story you can. If you really want, you can tweak after the story is finished, but I find when I re-read it's painfully obvious! (To me, if not to anyone else :D)

This.

I'm currently writing a WIP which is basically a spy thriller, with a romance sub-plot, between a Roman soldier [who follows the cult of Mithras] and a Christian. It's star-cross'd lovers stuff, but I'm being extraordinarily careful not to portray one belief system as more correct as the other.

I'm actually quite excited about the final chapter that be a ceremony of the Mithriac mysteries. I've never seen it done in fiction before, and I've been getting a lot of help from the local museums and university.

On a side note, as a student of Roman history, I hate the term 'paganism.' It is a traditional term of abuse, and I actually use it as such in my WIP. It's also an incredibly slippery term, modern paganism is a construct of the 20th century, the religions of the pre-Christian world were very different.

Dozmonic
03-20-2012, 12:03 AM
To write about paganism in fiction you don't have to make the whole story about paganism, just make paganism one aspect of it. You could write a fantasy piece with the pagan gods existing and worshipped in other worlds, or you could have alternate histories with pagan worship being central to the lives of the villagers. Such beliefs would be to them as magic would to people in fantasy worlds - feared, respected and a part of every day life.

areteus
03-21-2012, 02:15 AM
I have a pagan character in Transitions who does tend to come across as a bit batty (she is partly based on a friend of mine who is batty...) but I try to portray her as having more to her than just the pagan stuff and it isn't all of her personality.

I think it comes down to just write the characters as they come and make them well rounded.