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Writing fantasy characters

This is one of those "Yes, And" situations. One place to also look of course is science fiction- similar to a fantasy character who is not human, you can have alien life forms, which can take on being a character even while perhaps being nearly complete in their inhuman characteristics.

Now. This can also happen in a non-fantasy book, like "The secret garden" - where the garden could be considered a character- though even then its connection to the dead wife gives it some humanity. many other books also can use the inhuman as a character- and do it well.

BUT again- Fantasy may do it the easiest.... or be able to explore that idea in ways other books cannot follow.

So I am not sure there is anything that could be "unique" to fantasy, but there could be those characters that - again- are served best by existing and exploring a fantasy(or sci fi ) setting. an example you can use:

I am just starting (wrote the first few lines) of a coming of age story ala Mindy Kaling but set in my Super Hero world- the MC of this book is a doppelganger. So this does not change them as a character- they still have the same dreams and desires, failings and issues... but think of a teenager who can be anyone they want at anytime... and how much further they can push both the terrible and brilliant aspects of their soul- and physically manifest that.

So in this case, its a metaphor- but a metaphor that through a fantasy becomes "real'. So maybe that is a thing: " Fantasy characters are actualized metaphors" . which can set them apart from characters that are limited to metaphor only.


A list of traits I feel is useful from the world of screenwriting that make characters more sympathetic and/or interesting in any genre:
  • Courage
  • Skillful (also stated as "the best at something" though it doesn't necessarily need to be something directly useful to the plot)
  • Hard working
  • In danger
  • Obsessed with something interesting
  • Unfairly harmed
  • Kind or nice to others, cares about others
  • Loved and/or admired by others
  • Has some kind of code or system of ethics or honor
MC should have 5-7 of these and net at least 5 after subtracting negative characteristics if we are supposed to actually like them not just find them interesting, 3-5 for likable and/or sympathetic characters other than the protagonist

Other principles the MC usually fulfills:
  • The person most capable of resolving the story
  • The person with the greatest personal stake in the story
  • Drives the story forward with their choices and actions by the end
  • All other characters are defined by their assitance or hinderance of the hero
  • Knows something is wrong with the world, but doesn't know they are the one to fix it
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Hero Breaker
All fantasy offers is the ability to explore character uninhibited by real world biases. These is nothing unique to characters in fantasy setting. To think otherwise borders on pretentious.

Fantasy offers the author to make comment on real world issues without the direct call to the subject under scrutiny. What makes fantasy difficult is making the world in which we explore these issues or concerns as believable as our own, while not drawing a clear line to the real world equivalent we address.


I think it would be the environment. Like, in an espionage story, I expect the characters to be competent professionals who can keep cool in dangerous situations. As oppose to a character in a sitcom who I'd expect to be somewhat incompetent average schmucks who freak-out about stupid things. Because those two characters inhabit different environments even if they may be similar in any other ways.
So, a good fantasy character specifically should tell you something about the setting by either how they fit into the setting or how they don't fit into it.