As an example, I recently finished Rae Carson’s Crown of Embers, the second in her Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy and, while I enjoyed and would highly recommend it (the third book comes out this month and I am looking forward to it!), there were a few spots where I found myself thinking more about the statement she was making than about the character’s motivations. Toward the end of the book, a minor character offers the main character, Elisa, a natural birth control remedy so that Elisa can feel free to act on her attraction toward her guard. She accepts the remedy (after a brief inner struggle) in order to “be prepared.” The issue of birth control for teens aside, my main objection to this incident stems from Elisa’s role in this highly religious trilogy as the chosen one, a person of prayer destined to act heroically for the good of her people. Though this is a fantasy, the story’s religion as described closely adheres to Christianity, even quoting real scriptures. I have no problem believing Elisa would struggle with an attraction for a man she can’t marry, but she decides very quickly to give in to temptation. To be fair, the characters ultimately do not act on the temptation, but the lack of inner conflict about her desire vs. her religion sends the message that it’s okay to have sex and ignore your faith if your desire is strong, but be protected. That message contradicts much of what Elisa does as the chosen one so it’s unbelievable to the reader, though the author probably assumes it shows how much she loves her guard.
My own works to date are fantasy tales, where I am free to create a worldview and I have tried to make the rules of my fictional worlds fall in line with my personal beliefs while avoiding obvious real world intrusions. The next work I am considering is more of a contemporary story and I am already trying to decide how much, if any, “real” religion and values will enter the story. Again, I am thinking my beliefs as they impact the story should be invisible, not necessarily absent, but I want the reader to be immersed in my tale so much that it’s the characters’ beliefs, not mine, that affect their actions. In my opinion the more the character's beliefs match their world and experience, the more effective they are in drawing the reader deeper into the story.
So fellow writers, how do you deal with your worldview in your works?