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The Secret Sauce of Storytelling: Unlocking the Power of World Building and Characterisation

Two of the most important aspects of writing a fantasy fiction, or any fiction for that matter, is figuring who the characters that feature in it are and what the world they live in looks, feels, tastes, smells, and sounds like. It's important to research the time periods and themes that will appear in your story as well as the various kinds of people and places that will be seen and encountered in it. The first part though is figuring out the main character. I have a few main characters and a kind of theorem I'm operating under for my own work which accounts for the reused likenesses of characters between series. This is just my way of doing it, but it's something I suggest you read about in my actual work. But the main character is THE most important to start with.

When developing your main character you need to ask a number of questions. First of all, what is their name, what do they look like, what's their gender, how old are they? If you're artistic it is extremely helpful to be able to draw them and help you picture them in your head. The next questions are deeper: Who are they? What are their likes and dislikes? What do they aspire to be or do with their life? What is their greatest dream and worst nightmare? What are their flaws and what do they excel at? How do they spend their downtime? What are their favourite things? How do they think? Are they a warrior with a hard outer shell, but a soft inner vulnerability they protect? A gossiping socialite who is on their way to learning a lesson? A sweet innocent who needs to develop and grow into their destiny? Or a powerful being about to lose everything and learn humility?

These questions matter as part of the psychological and social aspects of your character. At the core of any story is the main character and their journey and figuring out what their journey will be is important. A couple of things can't be done without other characters, as people aren't simply moulded in solitude. But every main character has a journey of internal personal growth and the more they grow the more interesting they are. After that questions that follow are about the character's relationships in friends, family, romantic partners and even the villain.

The villain or antagonist is the next most crucial part of who a character is. Your main character or hero/heroine cannot exist in the story without something to overcome and someone to face, especially in fantasy. My example is the Shadow Lord who is the primary villain and antagonist Princess Leander, my heroine and protagonist, must face. When creating a villain you should do the same as you do with a hero or heroine. Work them out by asking the same questions.

One thing I did and found useful when I first started the story was I envisioned how their relationship would end: redemption, alliance, defeat and whose' defeat? Once I had that scenario in my head I had a goal to work towards, like most things in life and that was the final climactic scene between them that solve the story arc they would create around them. Next I made a document detailing each of their goals during the story. What did the Shadow Lord ultimately plan to do in the world of High-Realm and how did Leander figure into his plans? How did Leander want to move forward in her life and then how was she going to achieve her goals in contrast to his? Sometimes though an antagonist and a protagonist can have the same goals but different methods of how they would achieve it. Writing up how they plan to achieve their goals and what they're willing to do is always a great help to writing the story.

Another part of this is what do they need to achieve their goals and who will work with them. That then opens the way to create your other characters and fill in the rest of the relationships with your protagonist and antagonist. Parents, lovers, friends, supporters, they all begin to form and each needs to be created with wants, needs, passions, fears and their own way of perceiving the world around them. Every character needs to be alive and important, even those who only appear for a little while, but that doesn't mean writing a ten page essay on each one. You just need to know who they are, how they think and what they want, compressing the questions you ask for main and secondary characters down.

The next most important thing is the world your characters live in. This is like a character in itself in a way and requires some decent research, inspiration and creative thought. I started with learning what medieval life was like and what it looked like. What kind of architecture was used and how were buildings made? What were the materials and methods? How were designs chosen? What distinguishes the different peoples and how do the peoples of my world relate? Then it was who are the peoples of my world? What do they look like in terms of skin colour, hair colour, eye colour, body shape and structure, genders? How do they speak? What are their races? (by which I mean human, elf, dwarf, merfolk, giant, etc.) What are their societies like? How do they relate to others around them? What are their cultural intricacies and habits? What are their weaknesses as a people and what are their strengths? Which real world people relates best to them?

For example from my work, Aldegaadians, Leander's people, are all rather tall with Leander at 5'8" being a more medium sized girl, the smallest women standing 5'5" and the tallest at 5'11", while the shortest men are 5'10" and the tallest are 6'6". Aldegaadians have brown, red or auburn hair, blue and grey eyes and skin colours that range from tanned white down to fair and delicate rose pink white. Their clothing style, architecture and lifestyle are a cross between Celtic and Briton medieval societies with a little bit of Scottish mixed in.

They revere dragons and the dragon is the animal of the nation while the colours blue and gold represent the kingdom. Aldegaad is ruled by a King or Queen with a hereditary line that requires an heir, and if one is not produced a blood family member must be named heir. Religion follows the same types of festivals as the Celts and they have a pantheon of seven gods that they worship who represent different aspects of the world, a religion most of the continent follows among the humans.

The landscape is surrounded by mountain ranges on two sides and oceans on the others and is made up of snowy mountains, vast forests, wide open plains, lakes, caves and rough shoreline. In addition the kingdom encompasses a number of islands including the largest called the Isle of Alder, named for the plentiful abundance of Alder trees. The climate is temperate but gets very cold and it is one of the southern nations of the continent. Women can serve as knights and soldiers and are held up as equals, people may love and marry as they choose and almost all poverty is gone. Crimes are judged by the King or the local Lord or Lady of a town, but there is no cruel punishments or executions.

Foreign travellers are always welcomed. There are two non-human places in the nation: the Great Dwarven City of Hecturn built into, around, on top of and under the Nartarn'lath Mountains, and the Elven city set in the heart of the Forest of Galvenin. Aldegaadians and Dwarves have had a long friendship for many millennia, but the friendship with Elves developed over time after the precursor peoples of Aldegaad lived through invasion and occupation by the Elves. Aldegaad is also the country where merrow merfolk are known to frequent the shores. It is believed Aldegaadians came from Merrow as they have identical appearances and traits. Aldegaad is most famous for being founded by and home to Leander Aldrich the First, Great Heroine of High-Realm and the town of Arvon the known site of her childhood life. It is also the location of two Guardian keeps: Coastwatch Keep and the Citadel of Dartaren, named after the last of the original Guardians.

This is the kind of world-building that a writer can develop and create when it comes to writing their story. Fantasy allows us to conjure entire worlds into existence and we can use folklore of our world as part of it, reworking it in our own way. This allows us to create the setting and people of our books and give our readers an enriching experience.

The big thing about writing a book and reading a book should be about giving ourselves and our readers a different world to explore and people to meet and get to love outside of our own. Especially in the world we live now, fiction is so important and must be done with a love for storytelling.

The best advice I can give for this is to write what is true for you as an author, not what others tell you that you should write. In the end this is your story, world and characters and the only person who owns them is you and the identity of your work is what makes it special. Embrace that identity, write what you love and share it through publication. Always stay true to the heart and energy of the world, characters and story, as you should stay true to yourself.

Written by our White Light Author K. Isabella Frost who has written the following 4 books: The Pendant of the Dragon Series! We are excited to see what she comes up with next!!

The Aldrich Legacy

Custodians of the Past

The End of All Things

The Uncertain Road

⭐K. Isabella Frost was born in Melbourne, Australia, and comes from a long line of English Mediums as well as storytellers. From a young age, her mother was teaching her about reading, writing, and art which led to her love of literature and her interest in stage and film. She trained at the College of Creative Arts and Technology in Music Industry (Drama) and was mentored by Charles R. Slucki of Theatrica who encouraged her as an actress, a writer, and a psychic. She has also been trained by the wonderful instructors and psychics of Mystical Dragon Mystery College and Emporium in Seaford as an oracle reader, medium, and intuitive healer. She is also training as an Atlantian High Priestess. She has been writing since the age of eight after her mother told her to start writing down her stories. She has a great love of fantasy and the supernatural and uses some experiences in her life to give her characters depth and emotion.💫

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