In the process of developing your characters, you should consider the character’s religion and spiritual leanings. Religion is important to a lot of people in this world and they may be readers. Religion can be a thorny issue. Now it may not be important to your story, but you need to be aware of the philosophy attached to the religion you choose for your character. Allied to your character’s religion is its spirituality. I take spirituality to mean how important religion is to your character. This will directly relate to your character’s behavior.
Our religious training colors how we react to things. We do or don’t do things in accordance with our religious beliefs. That can be important to your story. If you openly state your character’s religious beliefs in your story, you need to ensure that your characters act in accordance with the tenets of that religion. This is especially important if you are writing about a character with religious beliefs that are not yours. Spend some time getting to know about your character’s religion, so you keep your characters more realistic.
Spirituality is larger than religion. This is the way your character thinks. This is another facet to the way a character will react in a given situation. If you don’t know this about your character, the character will not act in accordance with its own philosophy. The character will not come alive to your readers. That is the goal of all authors. We want our characters to live for our readers. Their spirituality can help achieve that, but only if you stay true to the character’s spirituality.
Now, you might ask if it is important to know the spirituality of your characters if religion is not important to the story. The answer is complicated. On the one hand, it isn’t. On the other, it is, if you need to have your character show signs of mortality. Most people don’t change their morality and if you don’t know what your character’s morality is, you might have them act one way at the start of the story and then another way midway and then back to the original way at the end. This inconsistency will be noticed. People don’t change drastically, not in their spirituality or morality. Characters shouldn’t either.
This is why it is important for any writer to get to know the spiritual leanings of the character. Religion and spirituality go hand in hand, but the degree to which they agree can and do differ, just as they do in real people in real life. To make characters real, writers need to know what the spiritual and religious leanings of their characters in order to keep them from doing things their spirituality would not allow them to do. So as you develop your characters, learn their beliefs and keep them faithful to them.