I have made no secret of the fact that I’m a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most call us Mormons.
It’s also no secret the members of the LDS faith generally abstain from smoking, swearing, extramarital and premarital sex, drugs, and alcohol. Many think that we’re not allowed to have fun because of this. But, isn’t it more fun to be able to remember how fun the party was rather than wonder what trouble you got into because you were drunk or stoned?
Lately, I’ve been struggling a bit with reconciling my personal beliefs with writing what’s true and authentic for my characters. I don’t read or write steamy romance. I blush quite easily. (Frankly, I wish people would realize that a movie can still work without a gratuitous sex scene.)
The first novel I wrote and the short story I penned right before it featured LDS characters. It was never made explicit that they were LDS, but in my head they were. No hanky-panky going on there. No swearing, either. In fact, there might have been several references to heading off to church. Then I wrote my YA fantasy. There wasn’t much there, except maybe a hint or two with some of the adult characters, especially since my main character and her friends were all ages 10-14. No hanky-panky there. And since it was fantasy there wasn’t really any cussing in the sense we think of it.
And frankly I started feeling like I was writing the same character over and over again. I was bored.
So I branched out. The main character in my current novel is definitely not LDS. I’ve written a fade to black moment, he drinks casually, and swears when all heck breaks loose. But he doesn’t swear often in the book.
I asked my brother if he’d read the manuscript for a multitude of reasons, the first being that he’s a guy. And he can give me excellent feedback on whether my main character sounds manly enough. But I asked him, too, because he’s the one guy in my life that I can ask who won’t be offended by the non-LDS behaviors.
I’m starting to feel guilty for writing in swear words and hinting majorly at a sex scene and such. It’s really becoming a struggle to reconcile my personal beliefs and convictions with what I know needs to happen for my characters.
I know that I have at least a handful of LDS readers out there and that there are a lot more who aren’t. My question to the former is how do you bridge that gap, if you ever do? To the latter, (I hope I haven’t offended you with this post) how do you bridge the gap backwards if you ever include a character who maybe doesn’t do something that you view as fun or okay? Do you ever write characters who maybe don’t drink or don’t sleep with people before marriage? (Those are just examples.)
And I really do hope I haven’t offended anyone with this post. It wasn’t my intention at all. I deeply apologize if I did and I hope you can forgive me for any offense.