Grounding Characters in Reality

One of the greatest things about writing is knowing you're going to take a reader on a journey.  Some of those adventures will be out of our world, but if you can't connect readers to something in the story, they might not be able to engage with it emotionally.

As a reader, it's great to read some pure escapism, but every sci-fi and fantasy character I love has some aspect of their character I can relate to.  With Lirael it was her awkwardness.  With Lyra it was her stubbornness (I'll have to dig up the school report where my form tutor informed my parents my stubbornness was a good quality but frequently got in my way).  Even when my favourite characters are going through something I'll never experience myself, something about them connects to me.  For me, the key to engaging readers in your fantastical worlds relies on fully realised characters.

When I'm writing, my characters might live on spaceships or travel between worlds using portals, but I instil traits, hopes, desires, failures, and weaknesses in them that tie them to the reality readers live in.  Take Ed from Colony. She might be trillions of kilometers away in the depths of space, dealing with monsters and power-mad psychics, but she's still a teenager who, like all of us, just wants to be accepted for who she is.


Although none of us have travelled in deep space (unless some of you have some explaining to do ;)), a well-rounded character will help readers really engage with that (currently impossible) situation.  I love grounding the huge issues in realistic characters.  Your characters might not even be human, but you've got to find a way to make them relatable to your readers. 

;)

Comments

  1. Yes, relating to characters is such an important aspect of a good story! (And, I love that you had a tutor who said your stubbornness was a good quality, even if it did get in the way)

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    1. LOL, yeah, my form tutor back at senior school knew me better than my teenage ego wanted to accept. It took me a few years to accept his wisdom ;)

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  2. WHEN WILL MY REFLECTION SHOOOOWWWWWW WHO I AMMMMMM INSIDDEEEEE

    *Karaoke's tunelessly along*

    Excellent advice as always, and so important to keep in mind no matter what sort of story you're writing.

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  3. I want a Toothless!

    Great advice, especially for those of us writing sci-fi/fantasy. People remember great stories for their characters! :)

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  4. Reflections is definitely going to be stuck in my head for like the next. . . week or so. You're definitely right about characters though. I think relating to emotions as well as qualities is always important, too. :)

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    1. You're welcome ;) It's a Disney Classic!

      Emotional resonance with a character is so important.

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  5. I'm such a character person! I really need to fall in love with the characters in order to enjoy a book to its fullest, and that means relating to them on some small level at least. Yay Mulan!

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    1. Me too. I *can* enjoy a concept, but characters are what stick with me.

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