SparkNotes Blog

Tips for Creating Believable Fantasy Characters

With characters ranging from wizards and elves to vampires and werewolves, only our imagination limits what type of being we can create in our fantasy worlds. Heck, my one series has talking lions who can use magic, and the other has a talking wolf (who’s quite ferocious in battle, I might add). But making characters such as these relatable and realistic is difficult. I mean, let’s face it, none of us have ever run across a talking lion!

So what can we do to create real characters? I have a few tips to get you started.

  • Use your senses. There isn’t a single moment throughout the day when we aren’t using at least one of our senses, and the same should go for your characters—whatever they are. Incorporate sights, smells, sounds, sensations, and tastes into your writing. Are they smelling something that reminds them of home? Do they hear something which makes them nervous or afraid? Are they seeing or touching something for the first time? What emotions does it instigate? Using your characters’ senses will not only help make them more real, it’ll allow your readers to get to know your characters on an extremely intimate level.
  • Get inspiration from real world themes and issues. This is a great way to make your fantasy characters realistic and exceptionally relatable. Look at things that are happening around you, either in your local community or around the world. Think of what real people experience and incorporate that into your characters and story. Perhaps they’ve lost a parent or sibling to an incurable disease. Maybe they’ve been abused or have been forced into marriage with someone they’ve never met. It’s possible they’ve been misplaced due to war or an epidemic.

Whatever issue your character is facing, think of how they would react and handle the situation. Do they go into a deep depression after their mother dies, or do they use the death as motivation to help others in a similar situation? Does it affect their relationship with others? Negatively or positively? Do they end up getting the disease themselves?

Using real world issues in your writing will help create wonderfully complex and realistic characters, no matter what sort of being they are, which will make your entire story richer in the process!

  • Open up. Talking about our emotions to others can be difficult, and for some of us, we don’t completely get over how uncomfortable it can make us feel. But when it comes to your characters, you have to allow them to open up. Get inside their heads and let them show your readers what they’re feeling. Maybe they’re reflecting the night before their first battle. Are they excited? Nervous? Afraid? Maybe they’re experiencing a little bit of everything. Let your readers get into their minds and feel those emotions as well. Not only will it allow your readers know that your talking lion is a real person just like them, but it’ll also help show them that it’s natural to experience these feelings and that no one should be ashamed to experience fear or anything else.

Keeping these tips in mind when creating your characters will help them become not only realistic but also extremely relatable. After all, we’re all human. Even our talking lions.

Do you have any other tips to share? What kinds of beings have you created?