Thursday, September 15, 2022

Origin Stories Aren’t Just for Superheroes

Posted by: Deborah A Bailey

When I’m developing a character, usually I have a very rough idea of who they are. No, I don’t do lists of characteristics. Instead, I usually write a paragraph or a page about the character. I let them tell me who they are. Sometimes it comes to me as a conversation. Other times I see an entire scene. It all depends.

But eventually I’ll have to figure out who this character is. What experiences shaped them? What are they looking for?

When we think of origin stories, it might bring to mind stories about mythological heroes and heroines. Or characters from comics, such as Superman or Wonder Woman. But origin stories aren’t only for those types of characters.

For instance, when I was writing my lion shifter hero, Mac, for Family Pride: Love and Challenges, it was relatively easy for me to create his story. An alpha male who was balancing between being a business owner in the human world, and an heir to a lion shifter pride. I had to figure out what his motivations would be (to be successful in the human and shifter worlds) and his conflicts (not being completely comfortable with his balancing act).

When I added his romance with a human woman, it increased his inner conflict. He didn’t want to harm her by fully being the lion shifter. Yet, he also had a human mother, so it wasn’t as though that type of pairing couldn’t work. In time I filled in his early life, his relationships with his parents, brother and his grandmother, the family matriarch.

Once I understood all of the family dynamics, and his own desires and motivations, I understood him enough to write him. Actually, I got to know him so well that when I tried to write a sequel featuring his brother, it didn’t work. Mac’s character was so strong that he took over that story as well.  

On the positive side, that means that when I get around to writing book three of the series, I’ll know exactly how his character arc should go. (Though on the downside, I had to abandon plans for the story featuring his brother. It just refused to work.)

So, yes, origin stories are for all characters – not only the superheroes. Knowing what those stories are might just be a big help in your story development.

If you’re interested in learning more, I’m presenting a workshop starting 9/19/22 on this topic for Savvy Authors. Visit their website for more information and to register:

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