Writing: Getting to know your characters.

Hey everybody, and welcome to another blog piece! This time, I’m going to talk a bit about character interviews, and give you a sample to look at, based in my own fantasy world.

Getting to know your creations is essential to making good characters I find. After all, if you don’t know your characters back to front, how will you expect those to read about them to learn? I really admire people who can rattle off everything about their characters to even view them as friends IRL, because it proves they’ve studied their creations and honed them so much they’re real to them. That takes dedication, and it shows in the written piece. Characters on the written page should be as developed as you are. How well do you know your friends? Pretty well I bet? You should know your characters even better. Why? Because you created them. You control them. You call the shots. Do all you can on this.

How best to do this? I find the immersive way is the best. By that I mean, get into your world, sit your character down, and talk to them! Learn things about them through questions, do their hobbies and have a conversation with them, or even use it like a job interview. Say your character is a sorcerer, but wants the job to the High Temple of Drekor. (This is something I just made up.)

Then take the role of the boss, and interview them, find out more about them. Doing this allows you to find out more about your world (Worldbuilding is great!) and you get to research your characters more intimately. This is vital, because it gives them flesh. Nothing kills a novel more then cardboard, bland characters.

So, what does a basic interview look like? For this, I interviewed a character in my upcoming fantasy novel Counterbalance, Lazarus of Valare.

 

Welcome. Tell me your name?

(He stirs.) Certainly. You have the honor of speaking to Lazarus Atarl. I come from the Sepulcher of the Pharos Order (scowls).

You do not approve of them?

(Sighs), Hinari is growing old, and bitter. He is a good man, I will not deny him that. but he is losing sight of what he wants. Pharos is the legacy of the Order, but too much of it is based upon aged ideals. The way forward is exploring the past, but he refuses to see it.

I see. That is understandable. What is your profession?

I’m a scholar by trade. When I was ten, my father took me to the Sepulcher library, where I read for four days straight learning about the Chaos age, and the sites within Harloph. When he came for me, he found me asleep with my nose buried under a dozen books nearly as big as myself (laughs). You could say I had found my future in those tombs. I wanted to see it for myself.

What brought you to this city?

Well, thats one of the high points in my life, I guess (He laughs, and pauses.) I fled to Valare with my friend Tyir twenty years ago. It became our refuge. When Valare came under attack from that bastard Mercer Duston, I took it on myself to help defend the city It was an independent trading capital, head of the Barta League and covered lucrative trade in the Forbidden Lands. We had…been seeking refuge, you see. Tyir did me a great…service, and I freed him from his prison, where he was due to be executed by the Order. You could say it was the catalyst to me leaving the Order. It opened my eyes, so to speak. I became a new man.

I hear it was a bloody siege.

(Laughs bitterly). Not as bad as you would expect. We had the ports, and the rebels couldn’t breach the walls, which I took the liberty to reinforce and train with masonries, organising the defences. Tai Cassel, he was working as my bodyguard at the time, he took command of the garisson, and we managed to hold out until the Empire and the Order marched upon the rebels and routed them. The last time Hinari ever set field in battle. Mercer was broken, but not defeated. He was banished from the Empire, and fled east. I hear he has rebuilt links with the League. (scowls) I will not trust him again, but the whims of the League I have no control over. We had survived, but the people, my people, paid a heavy price.

You saved the city.

I did what I had to do. Empress Adriena decreed that the city become mine for my defence, which Yurin and Haewin insisted upon. Hinari was happy for me, and immediately I took the liberty to turn this world into the greatest archeology academy this world has ever seen.

What made you decide to follow the one they call the Paladin, the Necromancer? The Black hell of this world? Or rather, what made you tolerate Tyir’s art? I hear it is legendary.

Well….(Lazarus hesitates, but my question of Tyir has not gone down well.) Do you know the history of the Pact of Chaos?

I know of it. Please go on.

The Pharos Order, fearing the consequences and the terrible price Harloph paid for the Mora; or rather the source of the afterlife, if you aren’t educated in the term, began its purge. Anybody found learning the ways of the Mora, any attempt, were executed, or sentenced to Limbo. Who granted them that right? The Mora is an unlimited wealth of knowledge. Dangerous, costly, but a wealth beyond the real boundaries of this world. (Laughs). It’s funny. They had it in them to dominate Harloph, but their own fear cost them that. They weakened themselves, and a brutal civil war between the three main families and the Sepulcher ended in a massacre. Then, House Nephyos foolishly decided to attack the Undine Kindgom, nearly six hundred years ago. That was a disaster. The fools.

What are you most proud of about your life?

Being able to create this (Gestures out of the window of Valare, where we are seated on his personal balcony, overlooking the city.) . I’d like think I am a good leader and a skilled teacher. Tyir and Cassell help me keep the peace, and we bring in the trade and fish and the harvest from outside the walls to feed our students. We train our own private army, the riches are always protected by wolves and the damned. A standing army of five thousand protect the city from any possible attack, and prepare to take our students to excavate the follies of the past. It is an endless sand which will never be destroyed, not permanently. We’ve revolutionized the city, making the most free and peaceful in its history. That, is my greatest achievement, I feel. I made my own path.

What are you most ashamed of in your life?

Only that I served the Order for so long…..it is a devolution, fragmented and corrupt. As what will become them all, if they stay in their ways. History has shown them it’s no longer possible.

Tell me about your family.

I have no other siblings. My father served as first Sate to Hinar when he first came into his position fifty years ago, but he grew disillusioned with the amount of work. Counting coppers was not part of his enjoyment, nor was it serving the religious quota to Pharos. My father was not much of a religious man, you see. Sure, he believed in Pharos as my old kin, but he wasn’t a fanatic at all. I liked that about him. My mother…despised his lack of faith. I remember them arguing about it, most days.

Your mother was a religious woman I take it?

(Laughs loudly) Who in the Order wasn’t religious, besides oddballs like me and my dad? Oh, there wasn’t a single ceremony for the great Pharos that she didn’t attend. Even when her body was ravished by the shakes, she still attended while our matron straddled her in cloth to prevent her biting her tongue off….she never recovered from that. (He pauses)

You can stop.

No, it’s alright. She had been getting weaker since giving birth to my youngest brother for years, but slowly her faith overtook her condition, and she paid the price. It destroyed my father when she died. He resigned as Sate, and turned to drinking and the forbidden practices. That too overwhelmed him, and he died a rich, but destroyed man.

You haven’t answered my question about Tyir.

And will not, if that’s alright. Tyir is a dangerous man, yes. He has killed and tortured, in his experiments. But he is a good man, and saved my life, and I his. Is it okay if we move on?

Certainly. A final question, before we depart for now. What’s your belief on the sex and ways of profession? I hear Valare is rather liberal in that freedom.

Doesn’t care who you are, anybody who has the ability can rise to where they want to be. Valare has freely appointed women into lines of duty. Even now, it is one of the few cities which appoints women to considerable positions in power. Not unheard of, as the leader of the Empire is a woman, and one of the greatest women I have ever known. Means little, as long as you have the strength of character and the talent.

Thankyou, Lazarus. Until we meet again.

 

It’s as easy as that! Now, it can be tricky, but just ask them questions, and answer as they. This was just a quick article today mainly for updates sake. I will return soon with another blog !

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