Crafting Dynamic and Compelling Characters in Speculative Fiction

by Disha Walia
published in Writing

Hi there, beautiful people on the Internet! It’s been a while since we’ve met on Wordly Wise. I have been curious how things are going for you with your WIP? For me, I have been tinkering away at my work-in-progress, and I have discovered a powerful secret to unlock my story’s full potential: character development. 

While world building and plot are crucial components of speculative fiction, it’s the characters that breathe life into the story and captivate readers. In this genre, it’s easy to get lost in the fantastical setting and thrilling plot twists, but don’t forget that it’s the complexity and relatability of your characters that will keep your audience invested and emotionally engaged.

Crafting complex and relatable characters may seem like an insurmountable challenge, but fear not, for we shall conquer this crucial task together. In this installment of Wordly Wise, we’ll unravel the mysteries of character development, exploring the key elements that bring your protagonists to life and allow your readers to form deep, emotional connections with them. 

So get ready to unleash your creativity and discover the secrets of building unforgettable characters that will leave a lasting impact on your readers.

Strong Foundation

To create a realistic character amidst a speculative setting, a solid backstory is a must. Include their childhood, family, education, and any significant life events that have shaped who they are today. By giving your characters a rich backstory, you’ll be able to create fully fleshed-out characters. This is crucial as it will help you stay true to your characters’ personalities and motivations throughout the story, despite them growing and changing over time.

Flawed In Perfect

I don’t mean use a flaw as a crutch or a way to make your characters more sympathetic. Instead, flaws should be an integral part of your character’s personality and help drive the plot forward. This will also make them more human-like. 

Go beyond the basic flaws. Maybe even turn strengths into weaknesses.

What’s Their Motivation?

Like people, characters also need to have goals and motivations. It is your duty as the writer to ensure that these motivations are authentic and meaningful. Motivations can be external, such as other’s approval or revenge, or internal, such as finding happiness. 

To make sure you’re on the right track, always ask yourself: Why does my character want to achieve their goal? What are they willing to sacrifice to get there?

Make Them Mingle

It is impossible for characters to exist in a vacuum and seem relatable. One of the best ways to “show, not tell” their personalities is to make them mingle with other characters. Some will be hurdles towards their goals, others will aid them. In the end, these relationships will not only make your characters richer but turn your story more dynamic too.

While you are creating these wonderful characters and an astonishing world around them, remember, you must make sure your characters fit into the larger world you’ve created. 

For now I will leave you with two important questions related to character development: How does your character’s background shape their perceptions of the world around them? How does it make them interact with the other elements of the story, such as the setting or the plot?

I will wait to read your answers in the comments. Until next time!

Disha Walia is a lifelong storyteller and an enthusiastic writer and editor in love with the idea of exploring the creative world of words. While making her space in the world of non-fiction and fiction alike, Disha loves to spend even her free time daydreaming about what next to write. Connect with her on You can also follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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