How to write spiritual/new age fiction

What is spiritual/new age fiction? Novels such as Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, or Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. Similar books might be labeled Spiritual, Metaphysical, Speculative Fiction, Visionary Fiction, or Paranormal, but labels don’t matter.

What good spiritual/new age novels all have in common is that the authors weave spiritual and metaphysical themes into strong story lines that keep readers turning the pages despite their sometimes pedantic tone. Readers want to be both entertained and educated. They want to get lost in an enthralling story that captivates their emotions and nourishes their spirit. Keenly interested in all things spiritual but not necessarily religious, they want to have fun learning, instead of wading through a nonfiction tome.

How do you write good spiritual/new age fiction? Understand what readers want. In The Writer Magazine, Salon critic Laura Miller identifies what readers care about in order of importance:

  1. Story
  2. Characters
  3. Theme

Note that theme is last on the list. You first must have great characters and a solid plot, and then structure your thematic elements to support the story without overwhelming it.

Where do spiritual/new age authors go wrong? They forget that fiction comes first. Many write fictionalized memoirs that don’t meet the basic requirements for a good novel:  A great story and engaging characters. Some write instructional guides draped in fictional trappings. Even if the spiritual message is strong, weak writing skills can drive the reader, who first and foremost wants to be entertained, to drop the book before any education can take place. Good spiritual/new age fiction appeals to both the emotions and the intellect.

9 thoughts on “How to write spiritual/new age fiction

  1. Pingback: Book review: Soul Identity « Fiction for a New Age

  2. This is a succinct and pertinent assessment of exactly what spiritual/new age fiction is all about. The most important point you’ve made is that we as spiritual fiction writers must never forget that the readers want to be entertained first and find the message in the story second. An excellent post!

    Judy, South Africa

      • You are welcome! Overall I guess my books could be called quantum spiritual (not religious), metaphysical, philosophical, paranormal, psychical, some fiction as fact… The one I am currently investing the majority of my time with is about the need for a balancing of the feminine/masculine energies (not male and female per se, nor feministic) but strictly from the physical energetic root necessity, including how we came to have denigrated the one over the other and what has resulted individually/collectively/planetarily/psychologically from this imbalance. And the possible solution. As I said…it is not another feminist rant…nor is it even about women’s rights and such… The concept involves cosmic laws that lie outside our physicality, the imbalance as seen within our world are simply the symptoms and results.
        Thank you for asking. Blessings

  3. “They want to get lost in an enthralling story that captivates their emotions and nourishes their spirit.” This about says it all when it comes to the kind of fiction I like to read. Entertainment AND education. When I put a book down, I want to be left with something to ponder. Thank goodness for “Fiction that feeds your spirit.”

  4. I am having a hard time finding agents/editors who are looking for spiritual fiction works. I am in the process of writing a spiritual fiction book (I had a finished manuscript that I was set to send to editors if I could find them but my hard drive on my computer crashed and I had to start writing it all over again! I almost gave up.) Any references to spiritual fiction editors, agents and publishers would be greatly appreciated for a first time writer.

  5. I am having a hard time finding agents/editors who are looking for spiritual fiction works. I am in the process of writing a spiritual fiction book (I had a finished manuscript that I was set to send to editors if I could find them but my hard drive on my computer crashed and I had to start writing it all over again! I almost gave up. However, I think it may have been for the best as I realized I like certain aspects of my “new” book better. This is now the 9th revision/edition) Any references to spiritual fiction editors, agents and publishers would be greatly appreciated for a first time writer.

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