Last week we covered building your world from the world-out. Topics included defining where your world is in its evolution on your novel’s timeline and where your world began. Today will continue along this path as you fill your world with characters.
Archetype: a very typical example of a certain person or thing. (Oxford Dictionary)
Trope: The word trope can refer to any type of figure of speech, theme, image, character, or plot element that is used many times. (literaryterms.com)
Build your Characters from the World
This approach can create protagonists, antagonists, and everyone else in your novel. Whether you started with a single character and built the world, or vice versa, using the world you’ve created as a guideline will ease the required character generation. I’m going to break this part into a series. Today, we’ll build your characters from your world’s genre.
Genre defines the expected character archetypes and the abnormalities. If you’re writing a historical fiction, then your characters are less likely to have cybernetic body attachments. A historical fiction creates the expectations of characters that fit the time-frame of your story. So, if you’re writing a WWII novel, you’ll want to use characters you would expect from each military, town, or country. Reading journals and accounts from people in that time frame will help with context to build your characters around.
The reason Genre is a powerful tool for character creation is because of its connection to the deeper concepts behind the story. There’s usually a reason you want to use that genre to tell your story. My first draft of Assimilation Fault addresses PTSD, coming home from war, and other aspects like that, but it’s set in a Post-Apocalyptic world run by Artificial Intelligences. I chose this because sometimes that separation of reality makes it easier for non-veteran readers to connect and keep the concepts. So once you’ve chosen your genre, lovers of that genre already build a lot of details before they’ve read a page of your novel. So you can follow along with tropes and archetypes, or you can subvert expectations.
Subversion of Genre
Sometimes you use a genre, but add your own twist to it. To use our earlier example, maybe you want to do an Alternate History Cyberpunk Fiction. This will allow you to add a uniqueness to the storyline, but you’ll have to justify how the Cyberpunk side came into being during the 1940s. Either way. Your Subversion of the genre will change expectations for your characters.
Questions to Consider:
What are the expected characters in this genre?
e.g. Ground soldiers, generals, sergeants, and other ranks within a Military Historical Fiction.
How did the world build this character to this point?
e.g. Through the hardship of her life, Katniss from the Hunger Games was ready more than others for the Hunger Games.
Who is a character that can make your world more interesting?
e.g. Darrow, from Red Rising, is a “Red” class citizen that’s forced into the high class “Golds” to change his world. Without his perspective, the events of the story would drastically change versus a “Gold” trying to change the world.
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