For this week’s fantasy writing prompt, we’re heading to the fundamental feature of every story, the characters. Each and every great story is based around one or more equally great protagonists.
What is it that makes them great? Some are funny, others flawed and human. Some villains are dark, unpleasant people, but just as compelling as the hero. Others can be easy to relate to, whilst some embody the ideal that we ourselves aspire to. Any manner of things can make a character attractive. Whatever the particular traits, these people are often the reason we continue to read.
In this post, I mentioned my overwhelming dislike of fantasy stereotypes, particularly when attached to race.
So the challenge for today is twofold:
1.Create a character with the following things:
- A physical appearance (well, duh).
- A flaw, some failing that will influence how they think and act.
- A past (not so much where they went to school, more where the scar on their neck came from).
- At least 3 core values. These drive the fundamental beliefs that guide the way they approach every situation.
- The basics of how they survive and live in a potentially hostile fantasy or sci-fi environment.
2. Create said character using a race/sex/religion/ethnic background not normally associated with the character archetype, thus breaking away from the usual stereotype.
Below are some classic fantasy character archetypes to either avoid entirely or use as a jumping-off point. I’ve put a couple of my own examples at the end.
- The dark and mysterious warrior with a hidden past and apparently endless stamina.
- The magician.
- The fanatical priest.
- The whore with a heart of gold.
- The grumpy, world-weary adventurer.
- The grizzled man-at-arms.
- The deadly assassin.
- The newbie. They can be new at anything, be it fighting, spell-casting, etc.
- The ship’s captain.
- The lithe and athletic archer.
e.g. My magician weighs in at 98kg, stands about 6’4″ and plays rugby in his spare time. e.g. The deadly assassin struggles with a dodgy heart that can drive her to her knees at the most inopportune time.
e.g. The whore with a heart of gold is a dude whose past lives include snake charmer and politician.
You can create your character using a character sheet, using my points above as headers, or maybe write a scene of two in which you introduce the characters, or even both.