As writers, we’re enveloped by stories. We all probably haves many — if not thousands — of stories that influence our own tales. Whether it be books, movies, TV shows, or anything else, we’re drawn to the struggles between characters in worlds we can’t reach and circumstances we’ve never experienced.
These things are often called “fandoms.” Popular books fandoms are Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, etc. Marvel and DC are vast movie and comic fandoms. Doctor Who and Once Upon a Time and anime shows are full of fans as well.
Fandoms have a lot to do with our daily writing life. They’re a huge source of inspiration and encouragement, as well as many other things. But today, I’m going to focus on one thing we can use to help develop our characters: categorizations.
That’s a really vague term, so to clarify, I’m going to use Harry Potter as an example. Harry Potter, perhaps, is used most frequently in what I’m talking about. In certain fandoms, there are what you would call “categorizations,” or maybe divisions, sections, whatever. In Harry Potter, they are Houses. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Four different character types, if you will.
It can be a fun exercise to take your cast of characters and sort them into each House based upon their personalities. Evaluate their actions and reactions, their outlooks on life, etc. Do they fit evenly into one House or are they a mixture of the Houses? Would they be happy with the House they’ve been placed in or would they be unsatisfied? If they were stuck in a hatstall (a period of time when the Sorting Hat is stuck between two Houses), what oustanding quality will ultimately decide which House they are placed into?
There are, of course, tons of other fandoms that use categorization in their stories. The Divergent Trilogy has the factions of Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Amity, and Candor, based upon your key qualities and aptitude factor. (Although, I think it’s really hard for you to not be Divergent based upon these attributes.)
Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra, one of my favorite TV shows, divides their nation into people who can wield either earth, fire, air, or water. What element would your character be most likely to bend? Or another favorite series of mine, Percy Jackson and the Olympians (as well as Heroes of Olympus, its follow-up series), follows kids who are half-bloods, who have one Greek (or Roman, in the case of Heroes of Olympus) god/dess for a parent. Each god or goddess has different personalities and powers that lend themselves to their kids. If your character was a half-blood, who would their godly parent be?
There are many different ways you can take this, too. Broader ways that don’t focus on one specific fandom. If your character was a superhero, who would they be? If your character was in a fairy tale, which one would they be in? And so on. There are endless possibilities.
So what’s the whole point of this? Simply put: to have a fun way to get to know your character. If you’re like me, you love being a part of your fandom and obsessing over little details in the story — and if you’re like me, you equally love spending time with your characters and developing them to be stronger and stronger. This way, you can do both at the same time. Seems like a win-win situation, right?
What are some of your favorite fandoms and the categorizations they contain? How do they pertain to your characters? If this has benefitted you in some way, let me know! Thanks for reading, and keep on writing!
BONUS!: What is your character’s top three favorite fandoms (assuming they live in our modern-day world)?
~ J. Dominique