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49

Show his religious practices more and his explicit beliefs less. What does a devout Catholic do? Probably he doesn't spend all day talking about his beliefs; instead he lives them. He tithes. He fasts on Fridays. He attends mass daily before going to work (or wherever he spends his days). He teaches in Sunday school. He studies self-defense but it's ...


30

Foreshadowing is your friend. Your example of Harry Potter isn't quite right. Chapter One is titled The Boy Who Lived. Now that's a bit ominous. Magic is hinted at on page 1* and is outright on page 2. "You-Know-Who" is first mentioned on page 5. By page 11, when the name Voldemort is first mentioned, we already know he was a danger and now believed to ...


20

What should I include or avoid in my story to ensure that the reader can empathize with this protagonist but not feel that I am either evangelizing or sending anti-religious messages? Treat the character fairly, and present the character's views as-is. If religion is not he point of the story, then simply write a character that is motivated by the ...


16

Four chapters in, your readers should have an idea what they're in for. Not everything that's going to happen, but certainly a hint. Once you've hinted that there is darkness, you can skirt it, turn your back on it for a while, or plunge right into it as you see fit in different parts of your story. But it can't just show up out of nowhere more than a ...


12

It's impossible to make sure your book is interpreted the way you want it to be. Some writers have actively disavowed particular audience interpretations of their works. In many cases the audience either ignored the author or sometimes even actively attacked the author's interpretation. Famous examples include Tolkien saying the ring is not an allegory for ...


6

Other than the already given answers, setting the stage really helps. I'm going to refer to the short story we studied in high school specifically on how to introduce a story. To summarize, a doctor (MC/narrator) is visited by a friend, missing his two legs and one arm. The friend explains that he's addicted to eating his own flesh, and asks the doctor's ...


5

I think that having him struggle to reconcile his religion with his life experience, as you said, will really help with the issues you are concerned about. It humanizes the religious character and shows that they aren't so judgmental and steadfast as other books and movies would have the public believe. A huge part of religion is an endless struggle. I think ...


5

Contrary to Mark Baker, my experience of English teachers is that they teach that novels don't "have a meaning that we can ferret out." The idea that it is possible and useful to figure out the intentions of the author is called the intentional fallacy, and that's a term I learned in 11th grade English. Usually these teachers are right. Most authors do not ...


4

Human beings are complex and flawed creatures. We do not each have just the one flaw. We have multiple failings, and multiple lies we tell ourselves. Now, for a story one has to simplify reality somewhat - focus only on those lies and flaws that are conductive to telling the story. But if you simplify the story to the point of each character just having the ...


4

Most people are largely prone to sympathize - with themselves If you're writing "close 3rd-p limited", your character will probably see himself as basically good, perhaps with occasional doubts. I'm not sure what you mean by having the narrator be mildly agnostic, since I thought close third-person limited generally involved the beliefs of the POV ...


3

The closest I could find was The Gender Balance of The New York Times Best Seller list on The Pudding comparing gender to genre. It barely scratches the surface of what you're looking for, but includes their data sources (specifically the Virtual International Authority File and OCLC Classify) at the bottom of the article. Like tryin commented, you'll still ...


2

Finish what you start. Your instincts are correct. The more weight you give an element, any element, the more readers are going to understand it as something that will be important later on. But, that doesn't necessarily mean that if an element is important, then you're required to build a whole subplot around it and keep bringing it up again and again! ...


2

As I was trying to find my own answers, I thought for a while about changing my settings in order to satisfy the theme and characters. This wasn't working for my story because it was so difficult to find a new setting that could fulfill all the criteria needed for my plot, but in case this helps others, here are two ideas I had: 1) Unify the foreign ...


2

How to write a sincerely religious protagonist without preaching or affirming or judging their worldview? At a basic level, you can't. You've already identified this character as a protagonist, meaning you are already passing judgment on him (his morals and character) as essentially good and you are expecting your readers to judge him similarly. As for ...


2

To write a book you need to study first! As a Catholic, I know we are not supposed to preach all the time, but to try living as best and "rigther" way as possible and always help and forgive everyone around us. It's our habit to go to mass at least on Sundays, cofessing frequently and do charity with our friends at church. Also, you don't need to be ...


2

I just have some miscellaneous observations: Secular people were much rarer then than now. What makes your character different in the England of that era is his Catholicism more than his piety. It will be important to think about how the Church views magic. Is it, in their view, all witchcraft and hence the work of Satan? Or can they come to view it as a ...


2

As a Catholic, with my entire k-12 education in Catholic schools, Catholics often get some unusual portrayals in media because the United States and England a predominantly protestant (from the Catholic Perspective, Anglican is protestant, just like every other non-Catholic sect of Christianity save for Eastern Orthodox.). Catholics are also not evangelical ...


2

Your task as an author is not to moralise, it is to tell a story. This may sound like an odd distinction, but what I mean by this is that the writing style should be objective even if the narrative structure is subjective. Quality fiction is similar to good journalism or history; it shows what happened and leaves it at that, explaining different ...


2

I don't think it is too much. Many characters have "double lies", and in a way one can block the other. You say the deep lie won't make your MC fail in action, but that isn't true: You say the MC cannot defeat the antagonist without learning both truths: Thus continuing to believe the deep lie would indeed make the MC fail. Sometimes, undoing a deep lie ...


1

Different levels of complexity are necessary for different types of readers. If you’re writing for kids, they’ll only really keep track of one thing. But for young adults and above, I think this is appropriate. Readers are smart and they love to wrestle with more difficult things like that. While you’re writing, just go with it and don’t think about it. ...


1

As others wrote, you cannot make sure the reader interprets your novel the way you want it to be interpreted. However, you still can influence it. You might read your draft and explicitly look for ways how it might be misinterpreted. You won't find all possible alternative interpretations, but you might find a few. Then, after finding possible alternative ...


1

Short answer, from Archibald MacLeish: A poem should not mean But be. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/17168/ars-poetica applies equally well to novels.


1

The question has two parts: The role of the writer and that of the reader. The reader's role is to understand the novel in good faith. As long as the reader is providing their genuine understanding of the novel it cannot really be considered wrong. Which is not to say any analysis must go unchallenged. A reader acting in good faith can be persuaded their ...


1

I'm going to say that it depends. It depends on the message an author wants to transmit and how they write it. Let's say I'm writing a romance. X starts out single and looking for their soulmate and ends up discovering that Y, their long time friend and confidant, is it. The message here would be to look at the friends of the sex that attracts us carefully ...


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