In one of my stories, I have a character whose view of God changes throughout the story. As a consequence, when seen from his POV when he is viewing God as an all-powerful, true/faithful being acting like he thinks God should then in his POV he is "God" (big g). At other times when he is full of doubt, not sure if that God is even there but acknowledging the question of whether God is there, he thinks of him as "god."
I'm wondering then if it's distracting to have the character reference with both little and big G's in the same passage. I'm wondering if looks confused or if it successfully is subtly conveying the difference in his mind?
I use this sort of idea in some of my stories. I don't think it is distracting if the context is consistent. If you use 'god' at times when the MC is feeling 'good' about God, then it would be confusing.
In my story, the MC has an avatar a VR space, and is referred to by the avatars name in the VR space but his real name in the real world. Transformation is important in that story, so I think it works. So I think as long as you have a good reason to change labels, and do it in a consistent manner, it will be just fine.
I agree with Osiris. As with so many things in writing fiction, consistency is the key. It could be a powerful tool--a way readers can see within your character--if implemented just right. BUT I think also it has to be really obvious as to WHY you are doing it. You really, really don't want your first reader--like an agent or editor--thinking that you just were careless or could not make up your mind. It really has to make sense.
Also bear in mind that an editor may suggest that you change it to whatever their preference is if they like the story and want to publish it.
A potential problem with this is that "God" would be considered a proper noun, while "god" would be considered a, I don't know, concept? A general term?
Like the difference between "The Satheirs were fond of calling upon their god." As opposed to "Hear my words, God," the Satheir said, voice ringing to the heavens."
Your readers might be inclined to interpret capital and lower case like that, which might detract from the use you're trying to put it to. If you can find a subtle way to explain it the first time the change takes place it might help eliminate confusion.
I think that is the original poster's point, though. His character would be using the big G God when thinking of him personally, as HIS God. But when he has doubts as to whether that god is actually really there, he would use small g god, because it is a generalization. It's "some god" vs. "my God".
Posts: 223 | Registered: Sep 2007
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Writers break rules all the time to achieve a certain effect, and I think I've seen this specific case ( God vs. god) used in this fashion in sff before. Again, as long as it is consistent, I don't think most readers will mind.
Posts: 1043 | Registered: Jul 2010
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On a slightly risky side-note: It's a huge triumph of Christianity (imitated by Islam) to have the name of its god be.... God. Of course, only monotheistic religions can get away with this anyway, but it's a brilliant linguistic coup that makes it very hard to talk about the concept of god without people thinking/assuming you are talking about "their" God.
If the Christian god was called Algernon, things would be very different, and it would be a lot easier for people to say "I believe in the possibility of god, but I can't possibly accept the existence of Algernon".
Looking at the wonder and majesty of the Universe, I can see why people find it very easy to believe in the existence of god, but I still find it remarkable that for so many people that immediately translates into an automatic belief that said god is the Christian on. I'm passably convinced that the linguistic takeover of the term is a large part of the reason.
If only the fact that Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all acknowledge the same god could actually lead to some sort of peace, rather than the exact opposite.
Posts: 620 | Registered: Mar 2009
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Complicated might not be the right word. Expansive, certainly.
In the end it comes down to the fairly simple fear and hatred for things that are different. It's just one aspect of the us and them mentality, the natural suspicion and hostility felt for outsiders. Religion, race, nationality, etc, anything can stir up conflict, and sometimes more than just a single one.
Edit: apologies for the derailing, no more out of me .
[This message has been edited by Natej11 (edited June 24, 2011).]