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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

GUEST BLOG: Exploring Character Development in Fantasy Writing by Fox Lancet

Visit Fox Lancet's Website Here

Fantasy Book Critic is excited to welcome Fox Lancet to our blog today. She is the up and coming author of a new fantasy novel titled Otherworld Soldiers: Rise of the Apocalypse.

Today she stops by to discuss character development and writing her latest novel.

A huge thank you to Fox Lancet for stopping by today!

Summary of Otherworld Soliders: Rise of the Apocalypse:

A Demon lord running low on victims.
A woman who was never meant for the world she was born into.
An enemy seeking to stand in the path of a violently ravenous horde.
When Lord Nefarion learns of the Otherworld, he stops at nothing to bring his legion to its gate and cross over. The Key must be found so that the demons can keep control of this precious gate out of the hands of their enemy.
Meanwhile, the Seraphs will do anything to keep the demons from their goal. Earth and its billions of humans cannot be allowed to fall victim to the savage bloodlust of Nefarion and his Horde, but they are outmatched. Only allies on this Otherworld can help, but can this equally blood-driven race be trusted?
Can either side locate the Key before the other and secure their access to this new battlefield? What happens when there is much more to it than any could have guessed?


There are all sorts of aspects in writing that we writers have to hone in order to be successful. Between setting, characters, structure, and dialogue it’s tough to be the master of it all. One of my favorite parts of writing is character development. Creating intelligent beings and unveiling their personalities through their words and actions never loses its luster. In a way, we writers have very personal relationships with every character we bring to the page.

It is beyond simple to write a likable character. We make them do things that we ourselves wish we could do or would do if we were in their shoes. Even beyond that, we write people we like into those very characters. But we have to tread lightly when writing the likable character because they’ll often become predictable and fall flat as a believable character. A writer has to remember to give each of them their own quirks and flaws because that’s what makes a true, intelligent being. Allow them to make mistakes, to be cruel, to be overbearing or irrational. Before you know it, your character will start moving through your story doing things you never would have guessed and that’s when you’ll know you have succeeded.

No story would be an interesting story without the unlikable character. This one can be as easy as it is difficult. Think of people you don’t like and why you don’t like them and put them on your pages. The difficult part is still giving this character a chance. Give him opportunities to be somewhat likable or relatable by giving him empathetic motivation or actions. My struggle with these types of characters is my disinterest in them. I wrote most of my book almost completely ignoring a key character because he didn’t interest me. He was a thorn in the spines of my main characters and so I just blew him off. Then it was brought to my attention that the reader needed to know him more in order to really care what was happening in the book at all. It took great effort to write him in, primarily because I didn’t really know him and secondly because I didn’t like him. But after writing in more scenes with him he really rounded out and became easier to include later on.

Motivation is probably a writer’s strongest tool when developing a character. Once you establish their reason for existence and what moves them through your pages, the rest should come easier. After that you just have to establish his attitude and give him some personality. So long as you’ve had your own human interactions, creating a make-believe person with certain personality traits shouldn’t be too tough, otherwise you may be trying too hard and trying too hard often creates a calculated character that’s flat and predictable. I always like to say, “You have to hate what your characters do sometimes and even more, let them surprise you.” Once you really know your character, you can stop asking yourself whether that’s something he would do or not do. He’ll do what he does for you.

The relationships your characters have with one another are pertinent to revealing their personalities. This is probably one of my favorite ways to develop characters, through their interactions. It sets up moments of actions and reactions to another intelligent being’s own actions and reactions. These scenes will give you plenty of chances to show off your character’s personality. Even if he is conniving and fake, we’ll see him faking it when discoursing with another character. Most of my favorite characters are part of a dynamic duo because I like to write a lot of my characters in pairs. This way they play off each other and they know each other well enough to remark on the other’s traits.

In some respect, you have to be aware of certain emotions and characteristics within yourself to help the process of developing characters. If you don’t know how to be mean—or nice—how would you ever expect to write about someone who can be one of those things? Recently, I told a friend (who is an aspiring writer) how he needs to get in touch with all aspects of himself, even the most loathed parts of his being. He’s one of those ridiculously nice persons who wouldn’t curse you even if you crapped in his morning cereal, but he is an unbelievable comic and book nerd! He loves the bad guy. He loves the good guy. But I believe to write these characters you have to feel the good and the bad in yourself and everything in between. If you can’t connect in some way with those parts of yourself, how can you imagine writing those personalities?

After I told him this he went ahead and tried to play an RPG game through and was attempting to make his character the most diabolical by making all the most terrible decisions and he admitted that he really struggled with it because he didn’t want to disappoint the character’s father or bestie, etc. See right there? If you go into a fictional role still acting like yourself, you’ll never find characters beyond yourself. They will always be just you.  In other words, if you can’t break from your own mold, you’ll never break the fictional mold. If you can tap into all aspects of personality possibilities (try saying that ten times fast) then you have an unlimited supply of characters at your disposal.

Developing characters is, in my experience, a very rewarding process. I’ve created these beings that move around the pages of practically their own volition. I think about them when I’m out and about and I even dream of them. I’m pretty much to the point I wish they really did exist, but maybe it’s because they’re like my babies. Either way, just try and stay away from the clichés and get ready to let your characters do what you DON’T want them to do. You can’t always lead your characters otherwise you’re just doing what YOU want to do and your character’s can’t be themselves. And don’t be afraid to feel things you don’t normally like to so you can write a personality that’s nothing like you.    


Aderyn Wood said...

Great advice about getting out of your own mold. I reckon an author's first book, or books, probably has characters that sit too comfortably within the author's head. At least, that was my experience with my first two books. Now, I'm interested in getting out of my head and thinking more about the motivations of others. I like your advice to get inspiration from real people you don't like too. I've got one such person in my life who I have in mind to be the inspiration for a character, and I'm trying to understand more about him. Interestingly, the process is making me empathize with him more than I ever have.

Fox Lancet said...

I'm glad I could inspire! It was definitely a learning process to figure out how to truly make individual characters. Breaking your own mold is the way to go! :)

Unknown said...

"Breaking out of your own mold" is a very good advice for building characters, I myself have too often written main character/s to be more in line with my own personality as that felt more comfortable than forcing myself to write things I wouldn't do.
Thanks for the article.

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