First of all, I wanted to thank Jennifer for having me on her blog today to talk about how to keep your characters feeling real in a fantasy setting.
Even though my series, The Watcher Saga, is about angels and fallen angels, can honestly say I didn’t specifically approach this series as a fantasy. I had a story in my head that I had to get out.
As I wrote, however, I discovered that it can be challenging to make mythical or supernatural characters feel real to people, especially when they don’t live in the same world we do. Here are a few of the things I learned to do to keep it real.
1. Do a Character Questionnaire
The first thing I do with characters in a fantasy setting is ask questions of the character, the same as I would for any story. I start with a name, and where they live, but there are so many great resources for character questionnaires out there. Here’s one of them: https://www.writingclasses.com/toolbox/character-questionnaire/gotham.
2. Consider Special Qualities or Abilities
As I ask questions of my characters, I take into account what kind of species the character is and what special qualities they would have. For instance, if you’re working with angels, or fallen ones, there are certain traits they all have. They have wings and can fly. They are also immortal and may serve a higher being (or not. In some cases, they may do the opposite). How would that affect their world view? If they are immortal, were they born? How would it feel to live for thousands of years? How would flying affect their view of traffic? That sort of thing.
3. Incorporate Your World Building
All characters exist within a setting of some sort. As you ask questions about your character, you start to get ideas of how their direct surroundings have affected them.
If they have been to war, it would have an impact on them. If they are of the Fey, they would have a culture, a history.
Perhaps they live in a woodland setting. Perhaps another dimension. All these things come into play when I’m creating a character. Even if they do not have a place in the story.
4. Include Social Setting
Once I have a character in a world, I consider who the characters friends are. They have friends, family, a social hierarchy, or social order of some kind, that they exist within. Do they have natural enemies? Do they act differently with some people than they do with others? Who do they care about the most? That relationship can be used to fuel their motivation.
5. Give Them Flaws and Challenges
In order for a character to seem real, they need emotions, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. In a fantasy world, these weaknesses can be almost anything. What would challenge them? In The Watcher Saga, the angels have a risk of being infected with sin. Michael was once infected with lust and is recovering. He’s recovered from a terrible past but it still affects him. He’s also half-human, so he’s subject to human emotions more than his angelic colleagues. So he reacts to things more like a person would, which isn’t always ideal.
In fantasy fiction, as in any type of fiction, it’s the challenges the character must face that makes them compelling and relatable. In any case, the fantasy element should add to the story and not replace character development. The more flawed a character is, the more real they seem. Their flaws make them relatable. If the reader relates to the characters and the characters grow and evolve as the story progresses, then they will feel real to the reader.
Thank you Lisa! Check out Lisa’s books below, and a giveaway too. Woohoo!
Giveaway! Contest ends June 10, 2016
About the Author!
A Canadian-born author, Lisa Voisin spent her childhood daydreaming and making up stories, but it was her love of reading and writing in her teens that drew her to Young Adult fiction.
Lisa is also a technical writer, a meditation teacher with the Training in Power Academy, and the leader of the Young Writer’s Club, a local writing group for teens in her home town. A self-proclaimed coffee lover, she can usually be found writing in a local café. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her meditating or hiking in the mountains to counteract the side effects of drinking too much caffeine!
Though she’s lived in several cities across Canada, she currently lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her fiancé and their two cats.