Thursday, April 10, 2014

Individualization and Characterization

Today is the ninth day of the A to Z April Challenge. This is a blog hop where participants post about a letter of the alphabet, every day except Sunday. You can go to the main web page to visit other participants HERE.

My theme is Fantasy and today is Individualization and Characterization. In order to keep this short, this is an abbreviated discussion.

In Fantasy, there are many different types of characters, or new races introduced to the reader during the course of a story How we create these races can be done by inventing the race, borrowing from ancient mythology or by re-writing an already established race.

Although there are several ways of creating or adapting new races and new outlook on races, one of the surest ways of bringing a race to life is by creating an individual from that race and making him a fully developed character. Many people like to use character interviews where they develop their traits from a personality assessment.

For example, Robert Aspirin, in his Myth Adventures, introduced trolls by presenting Chumley as a real person. Aspirin demonstrates Chumley's intelligence and his big heart through his interaction with the other characters. Terry Pratchett does the same thing for the troll Detritus. Though slow-witted, the troll develops a friendship with his co-worker, the dwarf Cuddy. Pratchett's dwarves also come alive through Carrot, the six foot adopted dwarf, and Corporal Littlebottom, a female dwarf who also joins the Guard. Andre Norton's Dahuan brings the Green People to full realization as Orsya of the Krogan does for that race. Mercedes Lackey's gryphon Skandrannon's love of adventure, his vanity and his devotion to his family make him as human as anyone. To be a successful troll, dwarf, fairy, elf, gryphon or whatever, the character must come alive. That is one of the true keys to breathing life into a cliched race.

How do you create your characters and in what century would they be from?


  1. Except for a few elves, most of my characters have been human. The bit exception is one dragon and he battles his nature to interact with humans.

  2. Susan: I like how your dragon battles his own nature to interact with humans. I'm wondering how you showed his basic nature and in what setting. Must be an interesting book!

  3. I tend to get stuck on dragons and fairy Princesses! I sometimes like to play with feelings and make them into characters. Good piece! :)

  4. I am enjoying gryphon stories right now. The Song of the Summer King is a very good story, I am on book two but don't think there is a 3.