When you think about it, religions have been shaping our world's societies since the beginning of time. Religious beliefs turn into ...

    When you think about it, religions have been shaping our world's societies since the beginning of time. Religious beliefs turn into values, which then turn into laws, ways of living, giving purpose in life, and so on. So why wouldn't they shape your fantasy world?

    I've always tried to create religions in my fantasy works, simply for this reason. Often I end up with more than one, as it's natural for people to have differing beliefs and theology, even if they're all focused on a central idea; take the different branches of Christianity, for instance. 

   So how do you create a religion from scratch? Listed below are some questions I ask myself in the creating process, and hopefully they can help you out! (Since there are so many I'll only provide examples for a few of them. I don't want this to turn into a textbook!)

UPDATE June 6th: Part 2 is now up! For more questions, click here!

1) Is there a god or higher deity? If so, how many and how are they characterized?

2) How do they believe the world was created?

3) What is the most important historical event to this religion?

4) Is there a place that people of this religion gather? What does it look like? Can everyone enter?

5) Do they worship? If so, how and how often?

6) Is there a core figure within their religious society; whether supernatural or in places of gathering?

7) What symbols are associated with this religion?

8) Do members of this religion try to convert others to it? If so, through which means?

9) Is the religion tolerant of other religions?
10) Are there certain foods members of the religion are not allowed to eat, or clothing they must wear?

11) Does the religion mark a difference between good and evil? What do they define as good or evil? 

12) Is there a hierarchy of members?

13) Can anyone be a member of this religion, or must they be born into a member's family?

14) Are there yearly events, celebrations, or traditions that take place?

15) Are certain animals protected by this religion? What is their view on the treatment of animals and plants?

16) Is there some form of scripture that records the religion's teachings? Is it written in a language understandable by everyone?

17) If you had to boil down the religion down to a single belief, what would it be?

    Whew! That's quite a lot to answer, isn't it? If my list of questions is intimidating, you can pick and choose which questions you think will play into your characters' lives and world the most. Religions are such intricate and complex things to break down, and I often struggle making them myself, but I really hope this list can help you out!

How do you create religions for your fantasy worlds? What do you think about how religions are represented in books? Do you LOVE world-building like me? 
Good luck with your writing, and have an awesome day!

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  1. Great list of questions! Your tips always seem to be VERY timely -- I was just starting to hash out where religion comes into play in the world I've been working on, and I will definitely be thinking about some/most of these :)

    ~ Michelle @ FaerieFits

    1. Thank you Michelle! Haha, that's so odd, but I'm glad my tips are timely! Hopefully my list helps you out, and good luck with your writing! Thanks so much for commenting! :D

  2. Thank you for this list! I've been meaning to try fantasy out because wow, I love the atmosphere fantasy books create ?! but it often overwhelms me because worldbuilding is not my thing. If I ever get brave + invested enough to try fantasy out I'll be checking this list again!

    - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

    1. You're very welcome Andrea! ;) Yessss I love the atmosphere of fantasy, which is one of the main reasons I adore writing and reading it. World-building can be very overwhelming, but yes, hopefully in the future my list can help you with that! Thanks so much for commenting! <3

  3. Your tips are amazing and so cool and I am FANGIRLING HERE MELISSA! I was thinking of editing some world building stuff in my WIP, so this was super helpful!
    Prabhleen @ Booksarelife987

    1. Awww thanks so much Prabhleen! <3 That's so lovely of you. I'm glad my post could be helpful! XD Thank you very much for commenting!

  4. This is such a cool post! Great brain fodder for coming up with a religion. I have several I need to flesh out. XD


    1. Thanks Victoria! I'm glad you think so, and hopefully my questions will help you flesh out your religions! Thanks so much for commenting! <3

  5. So glad I found this, I was starting to think my fantasy religion wasn't realistic enought

  6. Thank you for this, it inspired me a lot!

  7. These are some brilliant questions to ask! I've actually been doing some World Building for a Fantasy Series I plan on starting and religion is always one of the really tricky ones. There's some questions i never thought to ask myself. And the one you've built sounds absolutely fantastic!

    1. Thanks so much Maria! :) I hope these questions can help you when creating your story's religion then; best wishes with your writing! <3

  8. This is an amazing list! I've been working on a religion-based (pagan vs. monotheism) fantasy series for about two years now, and while my notes on the regional pagan/nature-based religion are pretty thorough, I found a number of questions that dive even deeper.

    The only thing I'd add to this list, is how members of this religion view gender and gender roles. Are there things only women are allowed to do? Are there things men are forbidden to do?

    A huge THANK YOU!

    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you were able to find a few questions that made you go deeper into the religion!

      That's a great question! I actually put it into my part 2 of this list, so you can have a look at those too, if you like. :) : https://melissagravitis.blogspot.com/2018/06/questions-to-ask-religion-two.html

      You're so very welcome! Thank you for dropping by!

  9. Your questions cover The Who and what aspects of the cultures religion. A writer might want to step further back to determine when did the people begin to develop a religion, where were they at the time, why did they feel a need for religion, and how did it evolve and how has it changed. If it has changed, what were the changes and why. Whenever creating a world and/or culture, the writer should create a history to answer who, what, when, where, how, and why. While that information may never be used, it will shape what happens in the future.