Last week I talked about how I came up with the character for my new fantasy novel, “The Guardian of Destiny”. Now let me tell you how I came up with the other characters and with the story itself.
Although I daydreamed Galavan’s childhood, this was not the story I wanted to write. I wanted an adult hero. So despite having his childhood in my head, not much of that childhood will be written in “The Guardian of Destiny”. I needed story ideas. This is where I could have perused through my journal or did some creative writing exercises. But I don’t think that is what I did to come up with this storyline. In fact, I don’t really remember where I got the idea from. I do know this:
I’ve noticed a trend with the characters in my daydreams. I’ve always developed my characters from childhood. It helps me define who they are as adults. It gives me their backstory and their motivations. So I knew I wanted a child in this book. What if instead of a boy, like Tomis in my Dukarian Legacy series, it was a girl? And what if she was half god? I think I got the idea of half-god from watching “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys“. Such a child would have extraordinary skills. But as a child, she would be vulnerable and she would need guidance. She would need a guardian.
There it was! Galavan would be the hero and the guardian of this girl-child half-god. And “The Guardian of Destiny” would be the title of the book. The title alone inspired the rest of the tale.
Now I had the hero and some of the supporting characters. Who is my antagonist? What is the setting? And most importantly, what is the plot?
Supporting Animal Characters
I was watching an old favorite movie, “The Beastmaster”, and thought it would be great if my character could communicate to animals somehow. I love animals and it sometimes surprises me on how much characters in fantasy novels take animals for granted. Horses are overworked. They perform amazing feats by doing whatever their rider says and carrying their riders wherever they want to go no matter how far or how fast. This is wholly unrealistic. Horses have personalities. They won’t always do what you want them to. And they can’t carry a rider forever. That is where I came up with the idea for Brute, a big flea-bitten gray warhorse with attitude and yet devotion to his master.
After some deliberation, I decided there was another animal that could be of use to a soldier. A falcon would be great at scouting surrounding territory. A falcon could see an enemy before they arrive and could alert to dangers ahead. Such a creature would be very beneficial to a soldier who was able communicate with animals.
It’s not enough to know my character is a soldier. I needed to know what he was a soldier for and why. Was he a simple castle guard? Did he work for a particular lord? Was he a soldier for a religious sect? Did he defend against a particular enemy? Did he defend a border or territory? I eventually settled on a soldier guarding a border. The need to defend a border meant there were enemies to protect it from, and therefore, antagonists.
Developing the Antagonist
If one of my heroes is a half-god, then it would stand to reason that her enemy is either another half-god, or even a god. Biblical stories came to mind where fallen angels came to live on earth amongst men. The angels were envious of the lives of mankind. We appeared to be free to do whatever we wanted whereas they were directly subservient to God. And this is where I developed Dorovan. He is the son of a god that had chosen to live among men because he disagreed with his father and craved worship and domination.
Developing the Plot
It seems now, that I have everything I need to write a story… that is, everything but a plot. If I have a hero who protects a half-god child from a full god/fallen angel, I need to consider how this child is a threat to a god. I needed to consider the god himself, too, the extent of his powers and his motivations.
How can a half-god be a threat to a full god? What could possibly limit a full god from being able to completely annihilate a mere mortal and half-breed with just the force of his will? Obviously, Dorovan had to have limitations. By choosing to live among mortals, he lost some, but not all, of his godly power. His motivation is that he wants his power back while at the same time keeping his status on earth as a corporeal being. Somehow this half-god child, I named her Adella, is the key to his ambitions.
Continuing to daydream on the plot, I finally developed the story in full. My journal and writing exercises played a key part in coming up with more ideas for this story, as did external stimuli of movies, books, and music. More characters came into the story and the setting came alive. The plot developed and stabilized. I’m not going to tell you that now. You will just have to wait to read the book. Perhaps I will share parts of the story with you later.