Sunday, February 20, 2022

Do Your Characters Share Your Beliefs?

I was chatting with one of my friends the other day, and she asked a question that got me thinking, “Do your characters share your beliefs?”

“Sometimes,” I said, “it depends on the story.”

There’s a whole debate out there as to whether or not entertaining stories should have a message or not. Personally, I lean toward a message, but not necessarily a forced one. I like to slide it in-between the theme so that those really looking for it can find it. These themes usually show up halfway into draft one and get fully fleshed out in drafts two and three. I don’t usually pick a theme in advance but let one develop naturally in my story.

The same applies to the characters. I don’t necessarily set out going, “Okay, this is what you believe. Go. Act.” I prefer to discover what my characters believe as the story goes on, then I’ll delve into those beliefs a little more throughout the drafts. This process allows me to come up with something naturally. It feels more genuine that way. I don’t like stories that try to shove a message down a reader’s throat.

Here are a couple of examples of my protagonists with different beliefs.

Adult Sci-Fi: Edge of the Solar System

Cory, the protagonist of this story, is a fresh-out-of-college graduate who’s starting a new job. I’ve been there, done that not too long ago. But that’s about where the similarities end. She comes from a different background than I do, and her personal goals are purely career-driven.

She first sets foot in a religious building during the narrative itself. Some of her coworkers are Christian, and some are atheist. Cory herself is searching, still figuring out what she believes.


YA Contemporary Fantasy: Water Sprite

Astor is just starting high school, and she is being raised in a Christian military family. I drew a lot from personal experience in this particular story, but as a result, I worked hard to make her different from me in other ways.

Personally, I don’t like it when a writer inserts themselves into a story. Then, all they have to do is ask “What would I do?” in regards to certain situations, which is kind of boring. It’s much more challenging to ask, “What would this character do?” Besides, another danger of self-inserting is wish fulfillment, where everything magically works out in the end for that character. As a reader, I find this trope terribly annoying and unrealistic.

So yes, Astor and I share similar background and beliefs but our approaches to certain situations are different.



In my latest story (where I just finished the rough draft!) my main character is also raised in a Christian household, but there’s still plenty that’s different about her life.

As for my next project, who knows? My characters often surprise me. I like to write with themes and a purpose, but starting out, I just want to tell a story. Everything else develops as it goes along.

Let’s chat! Writers, what about you? Do your characters share your beliefs? What’s your writing process for developing them?


Similar posts: Campfire Writing, Finding the Best Writing Method, and Writing Update: To Sequel or Not to Sequel?

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Subgenres: Historical Fantasy

My brother is an avid history buff. While I may not share his enthusiasm for all things history, especially when it delves into the politics of the past, *gags* I do enjoy historical fiction. I’ve already written a post about this genre, and my opinions have only slightly changed, so I’d like to jump into a blend of genres—historical fantasy.

Historical fiction can be a fun genre. Fantasy can also be great. But what about when you have historical fantasy! Prepare for historically inaccurate magic, everybody. Or maybe it’s real…


Historical fantasy: a subgenre of fantasy that takes place in the real world in the past. The character(s) may be involved in historical events, meet historical figures, or experience historical settings. Magic is an element that puts a twist on events that we may be familiar with.


Suspension of Disbelief

In historical fiction, writers might get flack if they didn’t get that one date right. Or maybe that character was supposed to be blonde. Hold up. What is this, a movie adaptation? *checks notes* Nope. It’s about books. Okay, moving on.

Historical fantasy is designed to be inaccurate. Or maybe a more appropriate word would be unexpected.

One thing I enjoy about fantasy is the suspension of disbelief. Historical fantasy is one of those fantasy sub-genres that pushes that boundary of disbelief. It puts characters real or made up and puts them in situations that actually happened, then asks the readers to bear with them while it throws in a touch of magic, in a similar manner to magical realism, where it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not.

A great example of book that suspends disbelief is Megan Banne’s The Bird and the Blade. Though it leans more toward the historical than the fantastical, there are fantastical elements that may leave the audience wondering, “Hey, wait a second… Did I read that right?”


Historical Events

Many of us have heard about the Battle of Waterloo, and if you’ve happened to read Les Miserables (not fantasy), you’ve probably read more than you wanted to know about it. But, have you heard about time during the Battle of Waterloo where the magician broke his moral code to create zombie soldiers? Okay, when I put it that way, it sounds weird, but I suppose weird applies to the entirety of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (Susanna Clarke).


Historical Figures

What’s historical fiction without historical figures? Okay, so they don’t show up in every book. But historical fantasy sometimes includes historical figures too. Just because it’s fantasy doesn’t mean it doesn’t try to be true to the character(s), though. Nadine Brandes does a great job with historical fantasy characters in Romanov (Anastasia Romanov) and Fawkes (Guy Fawkes). Though I prefer the plot of Fawkes, both stories serve as a great introduction to real figures and their tales.

Another example that includes historical figures is Dante’s Inferno. In the epic, Dante goes on to meet long-dead poets like Virgil, Homer, and Ovid. It’s a common characteristic in classical fantasy where the main character meets with a historical figure or somebody of prominence, who would now be considered historical. Though those don’t quite qualify as historical fantasy.


Historical Settings

Not going to lie, this is one of my favorites because a lot of these places, you can actually visit!

One of my favorite examples is The River of Time series by Lisa Tawn Bergren. Why stop at a fictional visit to Italy when you can time travel to medieval Italy and fight with a broadsword or a bow. I really want to take up broadsword fighting now. Thanks a lot. After reading these books, my sister and I visited Siena, one of the cities where the story takes place, and Firenze (Florence).

It’s been a while since I’ve read the stories, though. Perhaps it’s time for a reread…

There you have it! Just a few characteristics of historical fantasy and some recommendations.


Let’s chat! Do you enjoy historical fantasy? Have you read any of the books listed? Any that I missed?




Similar posts: Subgenres: Portal Fantasy, 7 of my Go-To Authors, and 7 Reasons I Enjoy Historical Fiction