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View Full Version : Advice Wanted: creating a more diverse and interesting cast.



Katallina
09-05-2013, 04:27 AM
I'm writing a four book urban fantasy series. Each book has its own main couple, but the characters from the other books tend to be present or have different roles as the story progresses. These characters all, through various means, either are or become what's known as Sealers. To keep a long story short, let's think of Sealers like they are Greek or Norse gods. There's a lot more to it then that, and they aren't, but I'd rather not bog this down with Sealer history unless someone wants it. (My point is: they are immortals, but they think like people and have good / bad traits.)

Now to me it seems like it would be very silly / ignorant / nave / etc. if these beings, who created two planets worth of people (one being as diverse as our own, and the stage of our story...) just magically happened to all be white. I think that this series could potentially be further enriched by making sure that the cast is diverse. However, considering the way I've set these characters up with so many shades of gray (every one of these people do something at some point in the series that is totally "WTF?!") and considering that there is elemental symbolism, I'm not sure if in doing this I might be biting off more than I can chew. (Putting it blunt: I don't want to ruin my series and my own credability as a writer by unwittingly using a symbolism or idea that's going to piss people off even though I didn't put it there with the intention of doing that.)

So, here's the deal. I've got details below on the rough idea behind each book, as well as character profiles for each couple. (Please note that Kesyl and Zakariah are siblings who share the same parents.) Ideally, I'd like to see two of the ladies and two of the gentlemen listed have slightly different backgrounds. For some of these characters this would have followed them during their lives if they are chosen (Cait, Isabelle and Sarena--though I'd rather not have Sarena switch around on me since I already have a cover for book one.)

I *know* this is something that I should have sorted out in the *beginning*. I am *embarrassed* that did not occur to me. Obviously in future works I will strive to do that. However, at least I'm dealing with it now rather than sweeping it under the rug.

I am very aware that I am likely going to need to put a ton of research into this for it to work. Fortunately, some of that can *likely?* be done in stages depending on which characters need further details added to their background, history, etc. I'm totally fine with that, as I feel this will ultimately make for a richer more engaging series overall.

Currently, I am thinking of making Aimee have an asian appearance and Kyden have a latin one. (Please realize, yet again, neither of these characters originate from Earth--my sincerest apologies if the way I am expressing this is coming out ten shades of wrong.) I am also considering having Avish and Cait (she *would* be affected by this.) by of african american descent. None of these ideas are written in stone, though. (As stated above, I'm extremely open to suggestions for any of the characters with regard to this.) If anyone has suggestions on different options for these characters or any of the others, I would love to hear them.

Thanks so much for taking the time to look at this. I truly do appreciate it. Have a great day. :)

Here is a rough idea of what happens in each book and who the leads for each are.

BOOK ONE: Sealer's Promise

BASIC CONCEPT: Sarena Lengton comes to Hycanth House, a school where people learn to use magic, but all she wants is to be normal. When a mishap occurs she unwittingly agrees to give Zakariah, the Lord of Judgement, the soul of the guy she's falling for. (Zak's brother, Kesyl.) She must (1) find the courage to tell Kesyl what has happened, so that (2) they can work together to keep Zakariah from swapping his and Kesyl's souls so Zak can possess Kesyl's body and come to Earth.

Sarena is a ballet dancer who learns to fight using martial arts (she has a background in that) and daggers. She's very girly and bubbly, a bit of a wuss (her parents insisted on the marital arts, where Sarena's interest in athletics is her dancing) and hates the idea of violence or hurting anyone, only using that as a last resort. She likes clothes, makeup and photography when she's not focusing on her studies. She will eventually become the Lady of Mercy.

Kesyl Veradayne is the Prince of the Kindred and Lord of Justice; they decided to call him a prince when the came to Earth five years ago since its a term that humans understand. In contrast to this, he's generally a pretty typical guy--he likes cooking, hockey, water sports and cars. Kesyl can be a bit too serious and intense, because of his role as the Lord of Justice. He has very strong opinions about right and wrong, and has a hard time forgiving those close to him when they make mistakes.

BOOK TWO: Sealer's Quest

In book one, Sarena's best friend, Cait, is killed. In book two, we see Cait team up with Sarena (who can travel between earth and the underworld) and Cait's LI, Avish, to complete a task that will allow Cait to be able to reclaim her body and be brought back to life. The book centers around Cait, Avish and Sarena traveling to the various cities in the underworld to complete four quests (one for the ruler of each element).

Cait McClure starts the series as the Goddess of the Harvest. She is the one who initially tells Sarena to go to Hycanth House. Later in book one, Godless comes after Cait and wants to kill her for being half Sealer. Cait is very driven, and is attending York University to get a degree in environmental science. Aside from that Cait is a gourment coffee addict, obsessed with gardening and exotic plants, and (because of her powers) has gotten very good at designing (and creating) her own clothes.

Avish Grendell was the original Lord of the Harvest, but when the massacre in the sky realm happened, he and his friend Kyden escaped to the Underworld. Unfortunately, they ended up landing in the river of reversal and their powers were transformed. Avish became the Lord of Famine and has lived as such for the past thousand years. Now, in my universe the job of someone like Avish is to balance the problem. Unfortunately, going to a living realm, like Earth, causes side effects. In Avish's case, he is constantly hungry and needs to consume blood in order to stay sane. Outside of these challenges, Avish is an avid gamer, he likes pizza, he drives a green pickup truck and he is fiercely loyal toward / protective of Cait.

As Earth deities, Avish and Cait both have the power to control and manipulate plants and animals, to change their own appearances, and to shift into several animal forms.

BOOK THREE: Sealer's Vision

In book three we follow Isabelle Bellachay, a human who is destined to become the Lady of Change, and Kyden, the Lord of Plagues. Isabelle is the reincarnation of the woman Kyden loved a thousand years ago and she is having visions about her past life. She is also in training as a prophetess and is struggling with the side effects of this. (When she sees a vision she gets something called soul sickness where her senses get turned off for a period of time. It's disorienting and scary.) Kyden is the Sealer that Godless detests most, and Isabelle is the grand daughter of the Matron, Godless' main human leader. This book focuses on Isabelle seeing fragments of a vision about an upcoming Godless attack and she and Kyden must work together to make sure they can prevent the outcome.

Isabelle Bellachay starts out a bit of a spoiled diva. When she is captured by the Kindred during a Godless attack and they figure out she has powers, she must learn to use them. Isabelle's ability to have visions is extremely rare and valuable. Isabelle can by a bit snarky / bitchy and takes time to warm up to people. Once someone gets past the shell, though, they've generally got a friend for life. Isabelle was going through school to enter fashion design. She is obsessed with shoes. She loves chocolate.

Kyden Argentos is extremely laid back, has a rather loud and sometimes obnoxious sense of humor and can be a total flirt. He's everything people Wouldn't expect the Lord of Plagues to be. He's also likely the most accessable of the Sealers for most people to deal with, aside from Cait. Kyden does a lot of charity work, likes classic films and has a bad habit of using his powers to change the appearance of his home every few weeks.

BOOK FOUR: Sealer's Destiny

Five years ago, Aimee Farrow convinced Zakariah Veradayne to help his brother, Kesyl, open a portal that would save the Kindred from extinction. Six months ago, Aimee betrayed Zakariah in an unforgivable way to align herself with Jayden Lengton. Now, with something precious on the line, Zakariah and Aimee must put the past behind them and work together if the Sealers are to ensure that the fragile balance they've struggled to create is going to succeed. (Sarena is pregnant and Ruby, the series' main villain, has done something to jeopardize the birth of the baby.)

Aimee Farrow starts the series as a Kindred and will eventually become the Lady of Healing. She is extremely smart but falls for a guy who ends up using her, while turning her back on one (Zakariah) who cares about her. Aimee is a total bookworm, a romantic and a healing magic prodigy. She has a lot of trouble accepting the practices humans use to heal / treat illness, mistakenly considering them barbaric.

Zakariah Veradayne is the Lord of Judgement and Kesyl's older brother. When he was a baby his mother, Ruby, tried to drown him in the river of ruin. He 'lived', but the water destroyed his body, leaving Zakariah trapped in the underworld because he cannot take on a physical form. Despite his role, Zakariah is actually a rather quiet and thoughtful person. He's not had much practice with people and can make mistakes, but he means well. Zakariah loves chess, books and flying on his dragon, Onyx. When he comes to Earth later in the series (Zakariah makes his first appearance back in book one and is important throughout) he finds the differences between it and the underworld pretty overwhelming.

Rachel Udin
09-05-2013, 05:11 AM
Character work ups? Also, how are you planning to integrate?

Are you planning to overturn stereotypes/play with them or put your characters in situations where it will matter directly?

If you aren't doing the last one and their heritage won't really matter that much, you can do the physical features.

If it will play in, then lots of research, thought and looking at stereotypes will help.

BTW, Asia is HUGE just like Africa and Europe... it ranges widely, so please clarify. Same wioth South America/Middle America. No. It's like telling someone British, "Hey, you kinda act French, don't you?" ^.~

There is Iran... Turkey, Parts of Russia, Pakistan... India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Mongolia, etc. Culture will vary, though if your characters are assimilating to a particular culture it won't matter that much. I knew someone Japanese, second gen and he identified more American and no longer understood his mother who spoke exclusively Japanese.

Also, said before, but how are you thinking of the range?