EMBRACE THE SNOWFLAKE
One of the things that has always attracted me to the fantasy genre, both as a reader and writer, is that a totally imaginary world can be entirely believable. Creating a world that resonates with readers and allows them to immerse themselves in the story is one of the most difficult things about writing fantasy. Everyone and everything must work within the parameters of the world. Details and aspects of the world must be thoroughly explained so that the reader understands, yet it needs to be done in such a way that it draws the reader into the story and makes them think that it could be real.
An essential part of this seemingly impossible equation is creating characters that are relatable. To quote Alistair Deacon from one of my favorite British comedies, As Time Goes By, “The people in the book need to be people.”
Don’t worry, I’ll explain in a minute! I promise! But first, I want to share with you a recent experience I had with one of my characters. A few weeks ago, I was working on a scene for Awakening, the next installment of The Dragonath Chronicles, when I suddenly realized that I loathe Garenth with every fiber of my being. Now don’t get me wrong, I had already come to dislike him when writing The Lost Heir, but this new feeling had evolved to something far different. It had transformed into pure, unequivocal hatred.
After finishing the scene, I sat there, trying not to stab the monitor with a pair of scissors, and mulled over how much I wished Garenth was actually alive so I could castrate him with a potato peeler.
Yes, I know you’re all thinking I should check myself into a mental facility for crazed writers, but I’m not as nutty as you may think…honestly. You see, my desire to attack Garenth with kitchen utensils had nothing to do with his contribution to the plot or role he plays. Nor was it dissatisfaction regarding the writing itself, which is often accompanied by such phrases as, Well, that four hours of work is going straight to the trash. Or my personal favorite, Was I on drugs when I wrote this?
No, this was personal. I despise Garenth as a person.
I hate every single thing about him and everything he stands for. I hate his total disregard for the lives and well-being of his people. I hate his lust for power and control over others. I hate the despicable things he has done to his family and others close to him. I hate his drunkenness. His laziness. His selfishness. But most of all, I hate his passionate belief that women are inferior. That they exist solely to give pleasure to men and birth sons to carry the family name and the family blood. That they are property. That they are nothing.
Yet, in spite of all of that, there is not one thing that I would change about him. He is a person, and though I find him utterly detestable, he draws me into the story. He allows me to become invested on a deep and personal level. It is characters like him that make me want to keep writing. It is characters like him who will hopefully make my readers want to keep reading.
Creating such characters is easier said than done, and I will be the first to admit that it is something I will continue to struggle with until the day I write my very last word, hopefully in at least fifty years’ time. Much to every writer’s dismay, there is not a magic formula to help us forge the perfect characters. There are, however, a few things I keep tucked away in the back of my mind while I’m working on a scene –flexibility, diversity, and change.
Both the writer and the character must be flexible. Neither one can get stuck in a rut. That will eventually lead to boredom for the readers and will have the characters do and say things that don’t necessarily fit their disposition. Each character needs to have a distinct personality, and the writer needs to think of that personality when the character reacts to a situation or another character. They need to be individuals. They all need to be snowflakes.
Don’t think of what you would do. Think of what they would do. Everything we experience helps to shape who we are. The same must apply to our characters. Let them grow, evolve, and change.Let them share their thoughts, memories, feelings, and ambitions.Don’t tell them what to do or where to go – let them tell you.
Don’t make them characters. Make them people. Embrace the snowflake.
About the Book:
Always a meticulous planner, Darrak Hunter leads a dull life until his dreams become plagued with visions of a peculiar and distant world. Waking up to a brilliant purple sun looming ominously in the sky, Darrak is met by a mysterious violet-eyed sorcerer who whisks him away from the struggling Earth.
Thrown into the clutches of a foreign world where magic is reality and not all is as it seems, Darrak embarks on a journey where he is forced to come to terms with his past and do what he can to shape the future. Accompanied by a talented swordswoman, a prince, and a beautiful young sorceress, he must overcome cunning plots of treachery and betrayal to discover the strength to stand against a destructive black magic and an enemy who is a master at deception.
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About the Author:
The Lost Heir is Andi O'Connor's debut novel and is available in both paperback and eBook. Her second novel, Silevethiel, is slated for release in October, 2013. She is a member of the International Women’s Writing Guild, the National Writers Association, The Association of Writers & Writing Programs, and the Boston Chapter of the Women's National Book Association. Andi lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and four dogs.
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