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The importance of detailed deities

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by ndmellen, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. ndmellen

    ndmellen Minstrel

    I was hoping to get some input and opinions.

    It seems like the majority of fantasy novels have a really detailed breakdown of "Gods." How important is this to you, as the reader?

    The only reason I bring this up is because, in my recently finished manuscript, I allude to higher power(s) in the verbage that my characters use ( "By the Gods", "Gods, that hurt", etc.)

    However, aside from showing that there is some form of organized theology, Gods play no part in my story. Is this a mistake? Should I give more detail, or perhaps take it out completely?

    As always, all thoughts and input are greatly appreciated.
  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    The details of the gods are as important as the gods are to the story. If you don't really include the gods or their worshipers you don't really need to flesh them out that much.

    What I would say is the as an author you should have a decent idea of who the gods are and how they work, just in case, but if they don't factor into the story there's no need to tell the reader about them.
    ndmellen likes this.
  3. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    In my opinion, it all depends on the story you're trying to tell. If religion, and the gods involved, have prominent roles or are important to developments somehow, richer details will probably benefit your tale. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if religion or deities form more of a backdrop for your story (there for texture), any detailed depiction is likely unwarranted and may distract from the story.

    I've read plenty of stories on both ends, and everything in between. In the example you stated, it seems your writing a tale where deities serves as a backdrop. There's nothing wrong with that choice.

    EDIT: I'll further this by saying that I feel ANY DETAIL, deities or any other, should receive the detail and description that is equal to their importance or prominence in the story.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
    ndmellen likes this.
  4. yachtcaptcolby

    yachtcaptcolby Minstrel

    The Gods may not be important to your action, but details about them can reveal a lot about your characters and your culture. For instance, if one country worships the god of war and another worships the goddess of agriculture, well, that says a lot about the differences between those two nations right there. Same deal for your characters. To make that work, you need to include at least a little bit of detail about the Gods. Believers tend to know a lot about what they believe in, after all.
  5. ndmellen

    ndmellen Minstrel

    I appreciate the feed back...Yeah, like I said, outside of using them as a expletive, the gods play no role whatsoever. The only reason I got to thinking about it is because I'm currently reading "The Name of the Wind". Rothfuss uses so much theology that I started wondering if maybe I had made a mistake by not using more detail...But at the end of the day, you guys have helped to confirm what I already know. Thank you.
  6. ndmellen

    ndmellen Minstrel

    That's all I needed to hear, guys; thank you. No matter how great you think a story is, sometimes you just need a bit of affirmation.
  7. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    This is lovely. I'm the same as you, ndmellen, where the God in my fantasy world doesn't play a role in the story. There are plenty of other areas I haven't developed either, just what's important to what's happening.
  8. ndmellen

    ndmellen Minstrel

    See, that's the thing, though: I have no theology in my story, no hint of religion beyond the words "Dear Gods"...I was just second guessing myself, wondering if, since I mentioned them, I was obligated to create some sort of back story or history.
  9. Bruce McKnight

    Bruce McKnight Troubadour

    I think you're good. After all, how many non-fantasy stories have characters say "Oh my God" without any reference to their religious beliefs?

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