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3 Tips for Creating an Exciting Fantasy Character

By Rachel K Small

Whether protagonist, antagonist, or just one of your supporting characters, you want to catch and keep your readers' interest by making a fantasy character that is both exciting and memorable. Strive for this, yes, but before you begin to make your fantasy characters exciting, you must first make them believable.

How do you do that?

Answer: By studying the people around you; your family, friends and acquaintances - even the guy who serves you at the corner store. They are real and they have depth, therefore they are believable. What are their traits? Every one of us has several human traits that make up our personalities, our moods and who we are.

We have various mixes and balances of regular human traits, good, bad and plenty in between, and some of us have one or two very strong traits that set us apart and make others notice us. These traits are what you need to study and observe, and then adopt into your writing during the creation process of your fantasy characters.

Your first step is to make a character that is believable to your readers. Start by giving him or her some basic human traits and try to balance them out; no one that is believable is all good and neither is he or she entirely evil.

For example, perhaps your character is a happy-go-lucky sort, friendly to all, but turns mean and ornery when he drinks too much. His friends are getting tired of bailing him out of trouble time and again, and perhaps are threatening to leave him be the next time.

Perhaps you create an antagonist who grew up in an attention-starved environment and now likes to actively get people into trouble, setting them up and then stabbing them in the back - maybe even literally - but loves kittens because she was denied one as a child.

The possibilities are endless.

Once you have created your character and given him some believable traits, write a short character summary about him for your own reference. You will want to keep this handy as you write, and can add to it and adjust it as your story progresses. These reference notes become very detailed sometimes as your character "grows" to become more rounded out and realistic, even to yourself. It is wise to make a character reference for each and every one of your characters.

Now it's time to make your character exciting!


The fantasy genre allows a writer particularly wide scope in setting up both background and character creation. One method to make your character an exciting figure is to simply accentuate one or two of his natural traits.

For example, in Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series, Matrim Cauthin, who is a close friend of the protagonist, has become one of the most beloved and exciting characters in the story. Mat is an incurable gambler and a self-proclaimed coward who is always trying to escape from dangerous situations - yet inevitably finds himself the hero of the moment more often than not. Mat's saving grace - and his personal curse - is his iron-clad sense of honour. When told of a man who had lost his life running into a burning building to save a child, Mat replies that the man was a fool. Yet, Mat himself would unthinkingly do the same and performs many similarly heroic (and foolish to his own mind) acts throughout the story simply because of his sense of honour. His honour is Mat's accentuated trait.


Another way to make a fantasy character exciting is to give your character a "gift" or conversely, a "curse" to make them stand out from their peers. Perhaps your character has a secret or supernatural power that must be kept from everyone, perhaps he or she carries an inherited family curse, or is possessed by a spirit, is a vampire, a werewolf, or a demon. Again, in the world of fantasy fiction, the possibilities are endless.


The third method for making a character exceptionally exciting is to have him or her be a shape-shifter. In J.K. Rawlings' "Harry Potter" series, there were several wizards who were "animaguses" and were able to change themselves temporarily into animals.

Note: Always remember that whatever you choose to do with your character in regard to traits, gifts, curses, magic, etc. there must be rules and you must outline them for your reader. Rules, no matter how outrageous and bizarre, are what make your fantasy story "believable."

For instance, Rawlings' animaguses could only become one animal and not even an animal of their own choice. Harry Potter's transitional animal turned out to be a noble gryphon, while Rita Skeeter's was a house fly.

The most exciting characters are naturally so, because they tend to be the ones that are the most believable. Usually, all it takes to make a fictional character exciting to your readers is a good mix of natural human traits, an unusual background or origin, and a strong development of one or even two of those traits. Add an unnatural trait or two to the mix and you have the makings for some real excitement.

After all, what could be more exciting than a shape-shifting purple dragon that is addicted to gambling, carries a grudge over a spurned love affair with an evil enchantress, and loves kittens?


Rachel Small has been writing nearly all her life and has just started to take her writing career seriously. She writes content for three blogs, for an online magazine and has several offline writing projects in the works. For more details about her writing, check Rachel's home page at http://www.rachelsmall.com where she blogs and keeps track of her projects.

Rachel also freelances upon request. If you are interested in the possibility of hiring Rachel and would like to contact her, more information may be found at http://www.rachelsmall.com/services/.




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