A pious, benevolent, chaste, vegetarian Catholic monk from America in the 21st Century makes a road-trip to the West Coast from the East Coast to preach the Word of God to non-Christians. He travels in a simple, cheap car, and he is accompanied by a couple of lapsed Catholics who want to support his mission, hoping to redeem themselves from their past sinful lives and learn about God and Christianity along the journey. Along the way, they encounter numerous obstacles, but each obstacle teaches the group something about God or Christianity. At the end of the journey, the monk and his friends have a simple home-made meal and part ways.

What does it take for a book to be Adventure? What about Religious Fiction?

  • I would say it could be both... Though as an aside, are you yourself Catholic? There are some elements here that... well... are not Catholic... but I might be reading to heavy into your premise.
    – hszmv
    Jul 30 '18 at 16:37
  • @hszmv No, I'm not Christian, let alone Catholic. I am just inspired by Journey To The West, a Chinese story with Buddhist elements, and wonder what it would be like if a Catholic monk ('cuz Catholicism is more influential to Western culture than Buddhism is) were to do roughly the same thing. I think I failed with the idea. Heh-heh. Never mind. Scratch that. If you want to write, then you have to know what you're writing. Otherwise, people who actually belong to the group will accuse you of misrepresenting them.
    – Double U
    Jul 30 '18 at 20:59
  • Well, in Catholicism, Monks do not travel. They are cloistered (as are Nuns)... In the U.S. Monks are quite rare. You would want a Friar or (more likely) a Brother (the female equivalent is a Sister)... I say more likely because I have met a Brother but never a Friar. It should also be noted that if this character wishes to be ordained as a Priest, he would be either a Deacon or a Seminary (basically someone who is still in school to be a priest). I need to get going, but there are some issues that could come up with the style of preaching. More later.
    – hszmv
    Jul 31 '18 at 16:34

I wouldn't worry about what its classification is. I would simply write the story you want to write (assuming this isn't a hypothetical question) and let other people worry about classifying it after the fact.

Unless there is some practical necessity that requires you to write a specific genre, the point of writing should be to express what you want to express.

Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is difficult to definitely fit into any one genre. I doubt that he worried too much about that when he wrote it.

Also, your description of the story might not be sufficient to determine anything. Although you describe lots of religious elements, you may not be describing that the book also involves hand-to-hand combat, overcoming a series of deadly traps, and solving many mysteries along the way.

(I doubt you would have failed to mention it if it did, but I'm just making an exaggerated point.)

With that additional bit of information, were it true, the fact that religious things also happen might be diminished in comparison, making it more difficult to absolutely pinpoint a genre. (Ellis Peters wrote a series of mystery books that involved a monk.)

Based purely on the description you gave, I would lean toward it being religious fiction. Although it would be more explicitly so if religious texts and their interpretations were also known to make up a significant part of the story.


Remember, genre classification is largely marketing. It's a matter of your book reaching a certain, pre-identified audience. So the questions you want to ask are "Who will this book primarily appeal to?" and/or "Who is most likely to buy this book?" On the surface, this book seems best suited to a religious audience, and would probably be marketed that way. However, there are some additional considerations:

1) It's possible for a book with strong religious themes to appeal to a secular audience as part of a different genre, and be marketed that way. A good example is the Chronicles of Narnia, which is generally viewed as Children's fantasy despite also being Christian allegory. However, in this case, the book needs to both have strong appeal outside of the religious message, and to not be perceived as "preachy" by the secular audience.

2) The "religious" audience is actually marked not just by religion, but by a range of social, political and cultural values, views and markers of identity. So a book that has strong religious themes but doesn't match the rest of the standard market for that religion may have an uphill battle to find a publisher/audience. (I've experienced this myself. My own work typically has Christian themes, but isn't necessarily a cultural or philosophical fit for the conservative, white, evangelical audience that is the core of the Christian market in the United States. So I need to make sure it has at least some appeal to secular audiences in order to sell it.)


Every element you named is religious, so it's not even borderline.

Also, I'm concerned about your ending, that it might fall flat.

Think of it like a movie - you want people leaving the theatre feeling good.

  • It completely depends on the conversation during the meal and the context surrounding it. There's no way to tell if it would fall flat just from a bare bones description like we have. Jul 29 '18 at 23:21
  • You'll note that I didn't say it would fall flat, but rather that I was concerned that it might fall flat. As described however it certainly seems a candidate for raising a flag about it being potentially anti-climactic.
    – Rick
    Jul 30 '18 at 10:10

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