1. The Codex
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    The Codex Member

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    Should I continue the development of my 'introducing' character for my Fantasy novel?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by The Codex, Jan 31, 2013.

    When I say 'Introducing character', I mean a character who asks about subjects regarding the fantasy world I created from time to time.
    Since this is a fresh out of a forge-novel, readers will obviously not know anything about the world they're reading. So they need to rely on this character who's young and ignorant of such things, normally he'll ask about "what's this place?" or "What's is this race's culture an history" and I'll accordingly pick a character who's to explain it to him (The main character or the wizard, likely. Perhaps my reptilian character). Thus the readers might understand the fantasy world they are imagining . It's better than characters revealing where are we going, and everyone knows what the land is and looks like. Whereas, this young man does not.

    Should I go with this method or is it too... you know, a bit too useless?
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Seeing and observing might be better than asking questions and getting long answers.
    Think of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz - does she really need to ask is this lady evil? and the politics of
    the winged monkey's and the wizard and such.
    She's just plopped right into the drama.
     
  3. blenderpie
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    blenderpie Member

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    I think if the character has grown up in the world, they would be asking complicated plot related questions rather than world based ones. I've never been to Texas, Canada, or Spain, but from simply living on earth, I have a pretty sure idea of what it's like there, even if I might not know particular dates or names of famous battles.
     
  4. Baroque_92
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    Baroque_92 New Member

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    It could be useful to make your character that knows nothing of this world a sort of inquisitive mind. It makes me think of Ursula Le Guin's principal characters, who are often completely foreign to the world they're in. From what I've read of her work, I've noticed either that the character's purpose is to discover how this new society works (ambassadors of some kind or another) or there is another character closely explaining things to them. If you're going with the latter, I think it's important to break things up so it isn't just a case of a constant stream of questions. Maybe instead some questions, then some observations from the character themselves reflecting on the time they've spent in the world already. That's just my two cents though, hope it helps!
     
  5. BitPoet
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    BitPoet Member

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    I don't think it will work well if a character asks complicated questions like "What's is this race's culture and history". People usually ask questions that are far less generic, and you want to keep your character believable. Also keep in mind that what puts readers off the most is exposition, i.e. lots of background description dumped on them. A golden rule of thumb is that, if you must reveal backstory, do it as sparsely as possible and try to wrap it in a conflict, however shallow that conflict may be. As an example, don't have your character see a bunch of dragons and ask flat out "Why are there dragons? What do they do?" but rather let him try to approach the dragons in a daring moment, then have another character pull him away at the last moment and give him a worried, stearn lecture about the dangers of dragons.

    A very good tool make backstory easier to stomach is interruption (in fact, it's a perfect tool to make almost anything more interesting). If your character asks a question, give just enough backstory to get a basic feeling about it, then have something urgent come up that takes the focus to something else and end the backstory on a foreboding note. An example:

    "So there's the king and the council who rule the kingdom?" Jeremy asked.

    A dry laugh escaped Irina's throat. "The council is powerless and useless!"

    "But why have the council at all, if it doesn't have any say in the ruling of the country?" Jeremy's agitation became palpable.

    Irina rubbed her chin and sighed. "The kingdom," she started softly, and her eyes took on a far-away look, "has not always been like this. Hundreds of years ago, after the second dark war, we were a strong country that valued freedom above all. Every shire used to send their brightest and wisest to the council, and our rulers made nary a decision without the advice of the council. Our kingdom was wealthy, and foreigners came in thousands to see our beautiful country and unequaled works of arts and to listen to our famous musicians."

    A smile danced over her lips. "Life was carefree and easy, and nobody had to starve because the woods and lands were overflowing with fruits and every kind of animal. Every citizen could petition the council if he felt there was an injustice taking place. We were free to voice our opinion, and there was no concept such as slavery. Until the Shadow Emperor ascended to the throne."

    Her jaw clenched, and the deep furrows forming around the warrior's eyes made Jeremy hitch a breath. "But how did..."

    "In the dark of the night!" She hissed, "In a night of blood and treachery! A single night that destroyed all, a night so monstrous and barbaric that it is hardly ever spoken about by those who lived to see it."

    The young man stared at his companion, her head now lowered and cast in shadows. "What," he asked tentatively, "what did happen that night?"

    She shot forward like a spring, roughly grabbed his arms and stared into his eyes. "Do you really want to know? Do you really want to lie awake all night, because those horrors haunt you? Do you..."

    A rustling of cloth interrupted her speech and shattered the gloomy atmosphere. Isgard's worried face came into view in the dim light. "Quick, we need to leave. Pull down your hoods and don't make a noise.
    Follow me!"

    So, on that note, there's no reason to give up on your character as a tool to introduce the world. But do make sure that he is part of the action, that his questions fit a person of his perceived age and knowledge, and that you split the backstory into small enough chunks.
     
  6. The Codex
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    The Codex Member

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    Ahhh. my thanks for your advices. Bitpoet, I find it's amusing that the little story you provided is somehow similar to one of the races I created, but I understand your suggestion. I will put it to good use, and I wasn't seriously going to make him ask "What is this race's culture and history?".

    Lucky I didn't go too far into the novel since I'm quite busy at the moment.
    Hey, does anyone get excited when your characters are about to venture into the different lands of your fantasy novels. I am, damn... cannot wait to describe the Red elves of the Red Mountains and how easily well preserved their climate is.

    EDIT:I'm also worry about how long the first install of the fantasy novel will be. It's all about... well traveling all around half the world, meeting alien kind of lands, how dangerous the monsters can be. Then as the novel reach nears it end, it's gonna be a suicide mission to... well, best not reveal more of my novel or novels in my case.
     
  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Method you described, that's not quite the way describing new world works. You need to describe it through your storytelling, not have info dumps throughout, as you would if someone was frequently asking for explanations. Why don't you read a few fantasy classics and see how those authors handled this particular problem. Exposition is one of the more difficult things to handle for any beginner writer, it takes lots of practice to get it just right.
     
  8. Battyvamp
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    Battyvamp New Member

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    I am running into this question myself. My character is of this world but had been kept ignorant of it because of her Mother keeping her locked tightly inside her house for most of her life. When she encounters the world she knows nothing of its inhabitants, technology, history or anything else except what her Mother spoon fed her.

    I feel like I need to explain every single thing, but yet that is a tedious thought and I am sure it would get quite boring for the reader....finding that right balance is going to be very hard. >.>
     
  9. tinylittlepixie
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    tinylittlepixie Member

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    I think that there is some value in a having a character who is going to ask the questions that the reader is going to want to ask, particularly in a fantasy landscape where the rules won't be as easy to inherently understand. However, I would caution against using their questions too often as it could get a bit clunky.
     

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