Christians and the Creative Writing Process, Part 2
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them…God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” – Genesis 1: 26-27, 31a (NASB)
Themes are the foundation of writing great, memorable stories and can be the easiest way for a Christian to glorify the Lord with our writing. But there are many more ways to honor the Lord with our writing, including today’s subject: world-building and the simple act of creating.
The Bible begins with God’s act of creation. Genesis spends two chapters recounting God creating the universe out of nothing. From the stars and planets to every unique creature we see on Earth today, from the weather and daytime and nighttime to plants and food, God made it all. I marvel at this. Looking at nature and all its oddities, I am in awe of God’s creativity. I consider myself a creative person, but by no means could I invent the weird creatures, unique plants, or diversity of landscapes all out of nothing! I always need references to things already in existence to shape my worlds. So I see our universe and just recognize the awesome creativity of our God.
But God didn’t create nature and animals and seasons only. His most important creation came towards the end of His week of creation: Man. Man is the most significant creation of God specifically because Man was the only created thing made in God’s own image. We humans are reflections of God and His attributes—including His creativity. How cool is that?
As writers, this means we are free to create. God is our Creator, the Creator of everything, and He gave us His own creativity by making us in His image. I find this amazing. Because of this, too, I think art is most beautiful when it is purposely meant to point back to the Creator of Everything. Art isn’t confined to just writing or world-building either: sculpting, singing, feats of engineering, architecture, experimenting and inventing, or building up a company could all be considered works of art too. But I digress—back to writing and world-building.
When I approach world-building for my own stories, it always prompts me to think of Genesis and God’s creation of the world. As a writer of primarily fantasy and science fiction, my world-building process is fairly extensive and involves a lot of inventing: creatures, places, technology, cultures—and so much more. I’ve recently come to appreciate the need for world-building in less fantastical settings as well. Even the seemingly mundane locations in more “normal” stories need a well-shaped, believable world. Family life, houses, and details for the setting are important to establish and keep in mind when writing any story. It’s all a part of world-building, too, and any world-building can be a beautiful act of creation mimicking the Creativity of God.
In a further attempt to honor the Lord in my creative writing, something I personally strive to do in my world-building is shape my new worlds from a Christianity-centric perspective. On the most basic level, this means I credit the Lord as the Creator of all, from hidden creatures living among us to an invented world in some place far away from Earth, and typically establish Humans as the dominant race (Genesis 1:26 & 28) over other creatures, including Elves, Dwarves, or my own invented human-like beings, Celestrions. While these details may not appear obviously in the pages of the narrative, some of the philosophy goes on to affect the stories and personal convictions of certain characters. For me, too, it’s related to writing what a story I’d love to read. Much of popular media doesn’t world-build from the Christ-centric perspective; I like having the freedom to create a world based upon my personal beliefs.
I love world-building because it reminds me to consider the marvelous work of my Creator. When I’m creating a world, creatures, and cultures, I’m more in awe of God’s creation: the intricate details of nature, the way the physics of our universe works, and the numerous ways God is at work throughout human history. World-building draws me closer to God in this way and gives me time to reflect on His glory and creativity. It’s so incredible that He’s given me (and all of us!) the ability to be unique creators like Him.
Do you like world-building? What are some of your unique world concepts you’ve created?