How well do you know your FR Authors? Every week you can expect an update to the author roundtable, featuring many of our best Forgotten Realms authors’ answers to the world’s most important questions, right here on this blog. Submissions for new questions welcome through private message.
READER: “What sort of characters are your favorite to write, and which ones challenge you?”
Ed Greenwood (author of Elminster Must Die): In serious scenes, I most like timid, unsure, naïve, or young characters “coming into their own,” stepping forward under pressure to become themselves or blossom into heroes. In comedy, I like giving comeuppances to arrogant characters who misuse authority. Challenges for me are characters who change subtly in outlook or mental state as a tale unfolds, because I’m so often writing action-packed narratives where subtlety is overshadowed by all the foreground fighting.
Erin Evans (author of The God Catcher): I like writing characters who are sort of lost in the world. Something big has changed everything for them, or maybe they never really had a solid place to stand. Or maybe they think they’re on solid ground, but they’re fooling themselves. The story becomes about them overcoming that uncertainty or anxiety in some fashion. (Also: smart villains!)
Characters that challenge me? It takes me a few thoughtful passes to get the sort of secondary character who is a sort of moral lodestone for the main characters. There’s the role of the character in the story, and then the personality of the character, and then the character’s own conflicts and possible arc. This is why in the excerpt of The God Catcher found in the back of The Edge of Chaos, Veron is a human bounty hunter called Boren. I knew what he had to do in the plot, then I figured out what sort of person he was, then I figured out how that was interesting and why he’d do those things. Brimstone Angels, I have a character that’s working out the same way. It seems backwards, but it’s what works for me. (Friend Erin)
Christopher Rowe (author of Sandstorm): Another very broad question. I’d say in general I like to write troubled good guys and untroubled bad guys. As for which ones are a challenge, when the end product is worth anything they’ve generally all been challenging. (Friend Christopher)
Richard Lee Byers (author of Unholy): I like protagonists with a down-to-earth, practical attitude, sometimes to the point of being rather knavish. I also like villains. I find it challenging to write characters who are extremely noble, altruistic, or religious. (Friend Richard)
Philip Athans (author of A Reader’s Guide to R.A. Salvatore’s Legend of Drizzt): I struggle with overtly heroic types. I just don’t have an inner Lancelot, and frankly just don’t buy it. My favorites are people who struggle against mental illness, Because I do have an inner nutcase and would like to think I could do the right thing despite of that. (Friend Philip)
Erik Scott de Bie (author of Downshadow): As you’ve probably guessed, I like tough, a little bit noir-ish heroes, femme fatales, and awkward, easily flustered lads. I also have a very whimsical streak and like writing characters with a fun sense of humor. I find myself not disposed to write non-humanoid characters—my FR novels don’t have a lot of monsters in them, and if they do, inevitably those creatures have humanoid intelligence and mannerisms. (Friend Erik)
Jaleigh Johnson (author of Mistshore): I like underdogs—normal people facing impossible challenges and coming out changed on the other side. The characters that are the most challenging for me are those that have a significant amount of power because it’s so easy to have that power make them un-relatable. If the readers can’t relate to my characters, I’ve lost them before the story even begins. (Friend Jaleigh)
Richard Baker (author of Avenger): Decent, good-hearted heroes are what I want to write about, but it’s tough to hang any good characterization on those guys when you’re trying to do something interesting and memorable. I have to struggle against putting a white hat on my good guys, and push hard to make them people with flaws and challenges as well as heroes. I don’t always succeed. (Friend Richard)
Rosemary Jones (author of City of the Dead): I like characters with personality, the quirky ones who drift through the door, pull up a chair, and start telling a fantastic story. The tough ones are the superheroes, the ones who think that they know it all and are too busy to stop and chat. (Friend Rosemary)