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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Sex in Fantasy Writing

A lot like fight scenes (which I’ve touched on before), I’ve avoided writing sex in the past. There’s something a little awkward for me about writing it, though I don’t have a problem reading it save for the occasional blush.

That being said, we’re writing characters with thoughts and feelings, and some of those are bound to be sexual in one way or another for some character at some point. So let’s talk about sex, baby.

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Worldbuilding: Northern Environments in Fantasy

This is a pretty specific and borderline nitpicky topic, but hear me out. Instead of focussing on what authors might do that is “wrong” or “doesn’t make a lot of sense”, I’m going to give options, explanations, and things to consider. I’m also going to focus on it from character perspective even though this is a worldbuilding topic.

Northern environments in fantasy worlds is often used in fantasy writing. Lots of the action happens there. Why, I don’t know, but I dig it. So we’re going to go into stuff that might help shape your northern environments.

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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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Character Clothing

I know, I know. Why would I make a whole post about something so inconsequential? Isn’t it bad news to describe a character’s clothing?

Yes and no. As with anything, it’s execution. But, I think, especially in fantasy, describing clothing (when appropriate) can be helpful for a few reason.

So let’s talk fashion.

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How to Make Characters Sound Different

I think making characters “sound”, for lack of a better word, different when they speak is a lot harder in genre fiction than it is for other forms of fiction. If you’re writing  a story in the real world in the modern day, the reader can more easily pick up on how a character sounds based on region, ethnicity, language background and so on.

When you’re writing genre fiction, all of that goes out the window. The reader, at first, has no clue about this world. The various nuances of speech in this world become unfamiliar.

So how do we accomplish making character sound different without beating a dead horse?

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