Friday, November 28, 2008

Fun with stereotypical fantasy characters

Fantasy and most genres have stereotypical characters associated with them. Almost all stories, for better or for worse, tend to include these character types. Just for fun, I've tried to label a few character types associated with fantasy. Please comment and let me know which one you like or dislike the most or describe your own stereotypical fantasy fiction denizen.

1. Wizard/Wise old guy serving as mentor - Traits: prone to impatient outbursts, refuses to properly explain anything, insensitive to the needs of youth, cryptic deathbed confessions, can really kick some ass sometimes.

2. Grumpy warrior/fighter - Traits: Usually a supporting character who serves as a battle tank and can really hold his own against the bad guys. Never seems to get a girlfriend, relishes battle, good hearted but often harbors racial prejudices.

3. Teenage Princess - Traits: Hates her corset, depends on her trusted handmaiden, struggles for respect and authority, might have magic power and profound destiny, lives in a world controlled by men who are absent, insane, or working very hard to make her marry someone gross. Almost always has to sacrifice love because of duties to the State. Loves to ride horses.

4. Teenage boy of apparently humble birth - Traits: Dead parents (if living, they must die soon), rural life, mysterious past, suddenly hunted by monsters or other evil forces, inherits magic weapon and/or learns to use magic, awkward around women, develops impressive martial arts skills almost spontaneously, destined to be great hero and save kingdom from doom.

5. Capable Captain or Mercenary - Traits: Usually a supporting character but sometimes the hero, has practical experience, wordly outlook, tends to be ladies' man, good fighter, good heart with a twist of corruption when necessary, sarcastic, strategic, and not as idealistic as the teenage hero type.

6. Nerdy Cleric or Religious Devotee - Traits: Might have magic, can translate obscure languages, clever, can talk his way out of tough situation, tendency to lapse into trances at bad time, knows how to open tombs, good or evil? He can go either way.

7. Amazon - Traits: She is armed and will hurt you. Intensely defensive, sexually desirable but unapproachable, usually trying to avenge a sister that was raped and murdered.

8. Other?

As a fantasy writer myself, I enjoy some of these stereotypes, but I'm not in love with the teenage boy turned hero. Maybe he's just been way overused or doesn't get laid enough. Anyway, I strive to create characters for my novels that have some original lifeblood in them. In my opinion, most fantasy authors manage to create at least one or two really solid and compelling characters (Some make them all good). Fantasy characters just tend to get turned into cookie cutters in the made for TV versions.

If you like warriors, real women, spies, and magic, please check out my epic fantasy novels and visit Brave Luck Books.