The Folk of the Air’s badass, strong female main character, Jude Duarte, does not try to do the right thing. For most of the series, she doesn't even know what the right thing is. Instead, she does what she can to attain the power and status she has been denied because she is a human in the world of faerie. And she does it "go big or go home" style by making herself the power behind the throne, the one pulling all the strings for an entire race.
She’s a fictional inspiration to girls everywhere and breaks stereotypes through her ruthlessness, strength, and an unapologetic lust for power.
In some ways fantasy and science fiction stories allow us to delve into a world that is wholly unreal, yet we as readers can relate to the characters and their journeys. However fantastical the world, unique the systems of magic, and creative the creatures that reside within it, readers read these stories and can relate in some manner to the characters we follow. Oftentimes in speculative fiction, the excuses for a lack of diversity can be exceptionally thin or characters that are supposed to be diverse are coded confusingly or badly portrayed. When writing LBGTQ+ characters specifically, coding them correctly can allow readers to feel seen even in the most outlandish of lands.
There’s several ways to code characters, even if you do not want to include a romantic subplot in your story. Queer stories aren’t always romantic, but living in a heteronormative world, it’s important to make sure readers won’t assume a queer character to be straight.
Creating an authentic character means putting in an effort. When it comes to bisexuality, I struggle to find books where I feel like a bisexual character is given a personality. Or worse, it’s highly eluded in their actions that they’re bisexual, but the canon never confirms these speculations. Writing bisexual characters doesn’t have to be hard, if the characters are developed. Also: The Young Writer’s Initiative, the companion group to JUVEN, is a great spot to get feedback from other young readers/writers for your project. And when in doubt, it’s okay to ask a bisexual person to look over your character’s interactions to see if they’re realistic or stereotypical.
Comics — formally known as “sequential art” — provide a unique form of storytelling that attracts all sorts of creators. The blending of images and text work together to express characters and nuance images in a way that’s different from normal books and poems, appealing to creators including U.S. Congressman John Lewis (March) and actor George Takei (They Called Us Enemy).
Many LGBTQ+ creators have turned to this playful art form in order to tell their stories. In a lot of comic shops nowadays, you’ll find an entire shelf dedicated to LGBTQ+ comics and writers. Here are some titles to read:
I’ll admit it--I’m much more into lit fic, classics, biographies, and poetry than I have ever been into fantasy. But that interest has taught me a thing or two about creating characters that hold their pain in the subtlest and most realistic of ways, that feel less like characters and more like people you’d meet on the street, that are flawed and not-necessarily loved, but always devastatingly human.
And it is to my belief that they can be applied to fantasy to make your characters more real--less Divergent and more Six of Crows.
Tolkien started with elvish languages, Margaret Atwood with how her character eats breakfast. And you? You can start anywhere you'd like. In fact, you probably already have. But if you're officially lost on what next? or caught in the muddle of how the architecture of the place makes zero sense with the climate? Wondering what holes there are in the world you've created?
Worldbuilding is strange. Forget about one thing and suddenly your whole society is broken. So take the mnemonic EPIC LANDS (all credit to u/mr_nefarious_ on reddit!):
Writing novels is a long process. Writing SFF novels can be even longer, especially if your world and cast is a large one, with endless amounts of information to keep track of. But if you have a laptop, the Internet, and some extra patience plus a bit of time, you can set up a whole wiki-brain-dump-directory-thing for your book that's as systematic as you want, and completely free. (While I wish we were actually sponsored by Notion, we are not). This blog post will take you through how I use Notion to keep track of the worldbuilding and pacing in my fantasy novel, Huntsman, as well as how I set it up (and how you can too!), before it grew to what it is today.
Lewis Carroll contributed quite a lot to the world of fantasy. His most well known works include Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, “The Walrus and the Carpenter”, and a personal favorite of mine, Jabberwocky.
Jabberwocky paints a picture of an impressive fantasy world in seven stanzas (closer to six, since the first and last stanzas of the poem are the exact same). The poem retells the story of a young warrior’s quest to hunt and kill a hideous burbling monster dubbed the Jabberwock.
Carroll constructs his fantasy world using a couple different tricks. By breaking down Jabberwocky and analyzing the techniques Carroll implements, we can improve our own world building and expand our tool box as writers
Killing your darlings applies to worldbuilding as it does to most elements of a novel. This post will give three quick tips on how to decide what elements of worldbuilding are needed in your novel and what may have to stay out of the final piece.
Elf, Man, Dwarf, Vampire, Warlock, Dragon, even Ghosts, are all fairly established alien or non-human races of the Fantasy genre. On the side of Science Fiction, however, we have races such as the Formics in Ender's Game, and the Wraith (among others) in Stargate. They're less common, but still there. Non-human races are quite the staple of speculative genres, many settings borrowing and reinventing concepts from each other. But it works.