In all religions, there is a common underlying thread they all share that is expressed in different ways. When you introduce religion in your story, whether it is established and recognizable or created by you, using it with subtle undertones is better for world building. There are those who use religion as the drive force in their novel, but if you want to use it to create depth for your world it will come across better if it’s understated.
Religion can be used as a great tool for how your characters see their world. It can be a point of conflict for your characters with each other, the society at large or within themselves. Faith in fiction goes along with hope – in yourself, the divine or your companions. As humans, it’s natural to have the internal hope that drives us forward. Your characters can search for it, have a lack of it or a breakdown of it. The internal drive to hope that things will go their way or blame their faith when they don’t brings tense to your story.
Beliefs can enhance the dimension and dynamics of your character and the world they live in. How we behave in society is in direct relation to the world around us. The culture will dictate a certain way for the society to act depending on their beliefs. Your character can conform and struggle with this to achieve their goal or rebel which might put them in direct opposition to what they want to accomplish.
Rituals add a certain magical element to religious ceremonies. Do they sit, stand, knee, pray, eat, do offerings? What do they do to bring a sense of belonging? Community feasts or ceremonies provide people with a sense fitting in, so how does your world provide this through in their daily activities? Does your character have a place in this community or are they on the fringes? Is this a source of your character’s struggle or does it become one once they set out to solve their conflict?
The faith of your world needs to have substance and in order for that to happen there needs to be evidence of it through your character and the society at whole. Religion is a subtle and interesting way to introduce tension and provide a base for your readers to relate to the world and the people you’ve created to live in it.