Monday, September 13, 2010

Characters in Fantasy

Here are some things to consider when developing your fantasy characters.

Description: In fantasy the writers must include the characters origins, description, race and other attributes so the reader can better gauge the world that has been created and the species that live there. In other genres we can afford to skim the surface with our descriptions and let the reader decide for themselves if the character is handsome or not. Though a list of physical attributes is never ideal, the fantasy writer has to include their own mold in which their character has originated. The reader must know that the witch in your story may not look like those in the Wizard of Oz, but in Harry Potter. Readers must know that your dragons are shapeshifters, faeries dark and sharp toothed, and that vampires sparkle, not explode, when the sun hits them. Sometimes leaving room for reader interpretation may just confuse things later.

Fantasy Character Designs...A link with visuals on various character designs. One size never fits all.

Naming characters:   Naming your character is as important as the race and/or species you choose. List of species ...this link has a very detailed list of species.  Including from various cultures. 

Language is also important. This includes names of places.

Magic. You can't have fantasy without magic. Some include: Necromancy, Sorcery, Alchemy, Black Magic, Divination, Manipulation of Elements etc.  Just google "magic" and you will come up with loads of information. Whatever magical powers you give your character should align with the plot and thus your character's purpose. 

And finally the most important--character motivation. If you decide to name your character Tom who happens to be a gnome who speaks proper English and eats red wine and cheese, he must have a purpose/motivation.  

Example: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Talk about a zombie from the 18th Century. What made people care? He wanted a life-long partner to spend eternity with. Now who can't sympathize with that?

Then we have R.A. Salvatore's The Crystal Shard and Drizzt Do'Urden. A dark elf whose race is inherently evil. He is not. And so we follow him for maybe ten books...I lost count.  Drizzt is still going.

Here's a list of 100 best fantasy books...Fantasy 100. I've read some and recognized some others.

Any thoughts on Characters?


  1. Wow, this is a lot of information. I've never given much thought on naming a character in a fantasy. Maybe I'm just not obsessed with what names mean, I don't know. If I ever write a fantasy, I'll remember the bit about names.

  2. Hey Elana, thanks for your comment.

  3. Love the links! Thanks for posting and I agree it is alot of information.

  4. Great post! Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading about Buffy... I noticed you already have the Inkwell on your sidebar. (smile)


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