Charlie Cochet hosts The Purple Rose Tea House – a guest post by August Li on reading and writing fantasy characters:
Part of the reason fantasy characters are fun to read and write about—at least for me—is their otherness. By that I mean the traits that set them apart from humans. How they’re fundamentally different from us.
The most obvious distinctions are often physical: he has silver hair; he has purple eyes; he has a tail. Exploring the aesthetics is certainly interesting. Probably because of growing up on videogames, comics, manga, and anime, I’ve always been drawn to characters with unusual hair and eye colors. As a visual artist, I love the challenging of drawing characters that stand out as nonhuman. But as with most characters, the really intriguing aspects lie beneath the surface.
So how does an author believably construct a character whose personality is immediately identifiable as nonhuman? How do we write a faerie who isn’t just a human with pointy ears or an extraterrestrial being who isn’t just a human with green skin? The challenge is to strike a balance between a character who is strange and intriguing, compelling because of their otherness, yet still relatable on some level…