Presuming you are in the Writing part of this lesson or the Editing part, we’re going to take a step back and explore a subject deeper. Yes, this is procrastination, but of the educational sort.
In this digital age, many exceptional artists have been known to record their art sessions and display them for fans to see the full creation. It is usually sped up, giving you an amazing presentation in a matter of minutes instead of hours and hours and hours. I’ve seen these and they blow my mind every time. It’s like a magic trick; you know how it’s done, but you could never recreate it so it would forever be amazing to you.
Today, I thought I would create something of the like for you to experience the depth of character growth–even when half of the information never even reaches the page.
In my novel, Clockwork Dreams, I created a race of characters known as ‘witches’. Because I write fantasy, these are not the people going around with voodoo dolls and newts in their stew. In fact, they are not human at all.
According to history, witches are born out of volcanos. They are quite literally magma creatures formed from limestone and breathing sulfur. Belonging to the infamous Unseelie Court of magic and mythology, witches are predominantly known to be evil or at least malignant creatures.
They present themselves in a human form, always female, because like the queen ant of a colony, they follow only one leader–a male warlock. Witches tend to be tall and thin, although there are the occasional rotund versions running around. Because their core is made up of magma, they are literally burning up inside. The more powerful the witch, the hotter the flame, so the skinnier they appear.
Hair color. Similar to stars and fire which burn different colors according to heat, a witch’s hair will denote power. Most low level witches have ashen or black hair color, however, there are three high power types–known as ‘Mothers’–to be aware of. A witch with red hair is a low level Mother, born from a cool or dormant volcano, while a yellow haired or blond witch burns hotter and is noticeably more powerful. At the top, of course, is the white haired Mother witch. She comes from an active volcano, is unnaturally tall and extremely slender, as if stretched. They do not have the bony, anorexic look that humans get when we are deprived of sustenance. On the contrary, witches are being fed generously by their blazing internal flames, and so are healthier the hotter they burn.
Witches speak the lost language of magic. Their powers are magic-based shadow, fire, and Black Magic elements. notably:
‘Cold’ fire–a trickery of flames which feel cold but will burn a human all the same
Flight (without broomsticks, mind you)
Dream manipulation–an ancient art of invading someone’s dreams to uncover secrets. Think “Inception” or “The Last Witch Hunter”.
Particularly strong power–or Mother–witches have access to the Underworld and can, at times, call on the evil spirits of old, ones that are still permitted to roam free on Earth.
Witches are incredibly vain, which makes sense, because their powers make them blaze beautifully; therefore, the stronger the power, the greater the beauty. They are also stuck up snobs, being stronger and superior to many races.
They hate humans, which are considered to be ‘mud men’–born of dust and the Breath of God. Also, because of the opposition against their Underworld king and master–a warlock. Not only this, however, there has been a rivalry between witches and humans since the Fall of Man and the Great Battle of the Heavens.
Their greatest goal has always been in the search of the next warlock. Warlocks are incredibly rare and only one exists at any given time. If no warlock is present on the Earth, they return to their volcanos–but the search is never off.
I raised up a few main characters as witches in the story, but I won’t spoil any surprise here. This is just to show you how much thought and consideration went into developing the characters to create a more believable world. I enjoy working with and using nature to grow elements of my stories. It is all well and good to say a witch is a ‘creature’ that has ‘dark magic’ and ‘fights humans’, but what does that tell the reader? Not much, I’m afraid. The more you can develop the foundation of your world, the stronger it will be.
But remember, not all of this needs to go into the story. If you as a writer knows the character, you will subconsciously portray the character with the right tools. Give the readers the facts they need, not a lot of superfluous information. The reader may not see everything, but they will believe it’s there if you do your homework right.