When Good Characters Go Bad

What makes a character a “bad” character? Not bad in the moral sense, but where the character falls apart in the work itself.

I’ve been thinking about this after discussing this recently, and I think it’s important for all works of fiction, and equally so for fantasy. Fantasy often has specific things that lead to characters turning awful and unreadable. So let’s dive into it.

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Dialogue

I used to hate dialogue. I didn’t know how to make it work, I didn’t know what to do with it. After a while, I learned to love it. In fact, huge chunks of my work are very dialogue heavy.

There are a few things in fantasy as well that make dialogue a little trickier.

So what gives?

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Pulling Off a Plot Twist

I’ll admit it, plot twists scare me when I write. I tend to get self conscious about it: “Is this good? Is it cheap? Is it effective?” etc. etc. etc.

But plot twists are awesome. When done right, they’re dramatic, heart breaking, and they hit the reader in the gut with realization and make them stay up late to read”just one more chapter”.

So, how do we writers do it?

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Endings in Fantasy

I’ve written about beginnings, but now it’s time to talk about endings.

Not gonna lie, I have trouble with endings. I’m far more confident in beginning and high point middle parts. That being said, the show must go on, but it must also end.

So let’s talk about endings.

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Playing for High Stakes

One of the first things I was taught in one of my writing classes was to “play for high stakes”, which means that there should be a lot on the line for the characters in the story.

What does this accomplish? A few things. The characters have a lot to lose should they fail, the heart pounding tension of an action movie can be achieved, and because of the high stakes, the characters are forced to play and therefore drive the action.

So let’s talk stakes. As always, remember the first rule of writing is that there are no rules, so take what you like and what is useful to you. If nothing, then so be it.

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Politics in Fantasy.

 

Politics are a big part of fantasy. Often times there are rulers fighting for it, and our heroes often get involved because they’re the heroes. So how do our characters relate to politics? How do we use politics in writing? A lot of it depends on you as the writer, but it’s worth talking about anyway.

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Things I Don’t Want to See Anymore in Fantasy: Part II

I want to preface this by saying that this is by no means a be and end all list. You can absolutely have these things in your work and it’d be something great that I’d love to read. These are mainly pet peeves, things that are often executed poorly, and such.

So take all of this with a grain of salt and think of your own.

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