Monday, July 27, 2009

Magical Monday Fantasy Characters

No matter what genre you are writing in, novel writing is designed to entertain our readers. In the realm of Fantasy, the goal is to write an interesting story without confusing your reader or losing their interest while you paint the vivid picture of your realm. Too much description or ideas that are too far removed from reality will prevent the reader from immersing themselves in the story.

Creating fantasy characters, is, above all else, fun. As in any work of fiction, you need to create characters that are believable and multi-dimensional. The most important consideration for a main character is that the reader must care about their situation. Whatever type of personality they have, whatever crisis they face, the main character's plight must grip the reader and hold them throughout the book. Fantasy gives you many avenues with which to capture your reader’s interest. There are many opportunities for introducing magic through your character’s abilities and/or special artifacts and elements that will play an important role in your story. This will give an air of mystery and intrigue simply by nature of the subject matter.

Through conflict, action, resolution and personality development the character must grow and become equipped to deal with the final conflict. When developing the story line, keep your main character in mind and remember to give him or her many opportunities to keep the character steadily growing and developing. This can give fodder to all sorts of material to explore and ample opportunity to give the character depth while pushing the plot forward.

Know your characters. Give them real emotions, making their reactions real for their personality. All of the substantial characters should have opportunities to evolve through the story as they encounter situations that will test them. Even if never mentioned, the Fantasy author should know the history of each character they introduce. Personally, I develop entire histories and back stories for any substantial character. By examining their culture, physical attributes, likes, dislikes, phobias, family life, school/work backgrounds, beliefs and habits to their psychological profile each character will reveal not only the character’s voice, but additional threads for sub-plots to weave into the main story line. Keeping a personality profile for each character can help the author create a believable character.

If we want our readers to become immersed our story, we need to have them understand and visualize the fantasy world and characters we have created. Trust the imaginations of our readers to follow our vision without boring them with long informational description dumps. Our heroes and villains need to be recognizable or we will lose empathy with our readers. When creating a fantasy hero, landscape or even means of travel, it is vital to work within the realms of our reader's imagination.

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Marvin D Wilson said...

Well said. The reader will fill in lots of gaps and create their own "details" if we give them just enough to make it believable and able to relate to, I agree. Too much and too far out will sometimes kill their ability to imagine this world the characters live in.

Good post.

The Old Silly

The Practical Preserver said...

Interesting, when you think about it. As writers we create worlds and characters all the day. You take it one step farther and create a world that has yet to be.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great points on creating characters....and not just for fantasies. Thanks for sharing!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good advice here for all fiction writers, not just those who create fantasy. I'm finding, for instance, that writing down the backstory and other info about secondary characters is helpful in plotting my story, even if I never write a single scene from that character's point of view.

N A Sharpe said...

Thanks so much, everyone, for stopping by!

Marvin - it is sometimes a delicate balance between enough details to give the reader a clear picture of your world and allowing their imagination to take over the imagery.

Karen - and, sometimes, when you are discovering a fantasy character's back story, even more worlds of wonder emerge.

Elizabeth - I agree heartily, it is a great technique for developing characters of virtually any genre.

Patricia - it is really surprising the details that spring to life when you use this technique for getting to know your characters. Sometimes your characters can really surprise you.

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

Helen Ginger said...

Some of us who don't write fantasy (but love to read it) don't stop to think that fantasy characters have to be as developed as "human" characters in order to be "real."

Straight From Hel

N A Sharpe said...

Hi Helen,

That's an excellent point - like any other character you have to develop them multi-dimensionally to make them real - they have to have both good and bad qualities and even the bad guy has to have something redeemable about him, lol. The great thing about fantasy is you don't have to stick within the realms of reality - you can let your imagination soar!

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

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