My A-Z Blogging theme is to cover 26 touch-me-not categories of fiction writing. These are frequently the trouble spots which can be useful components of the story if handled properly, but when rushed through, can cause all kinds of trouble. While the genre is fantasy, the tips can apply to anything, from romance to literary fiction.
While exploring the ruins of an old castle, Mordekai and his sister Monique accidentally destroy an old tower only to find themselves in a different place, or time, entirely–with a mysterious princess on their hands who thinks ever noble’s name must begin with an “M,” among other absurd things. Mordekai isn’t about to admit to his real name, so he tells her to call him Sir Kai. Then, suddenly, a giant goat crashes through the wall and carries him off.
Mordekai wasn’t sure how long he’d flown, upside down and dangling from the horns of the giant goat, when suddenly, something brushed against his nose. He wrinkled his face and opened his eyes to find Brisbane the Bumblebee in the air, his soft glow blocking out most of the far-away ground.
“Did Mural send you to help?” he said, attempting humor despite the way his stomach was feeling.
To his complete surprise, he got an answer back. “Precisely. Her highness felt it would be unwise to leave you by yourself, especially given how uninformed you seem to be about our mores and manners.”
He blinked and shook his head, trying to clear some of the vertigo. “I’m sorry…did you just talk?”
“You can talk? Why didn’t you do this earlier?”
“I felt I might be a distraction. And it truly wasn’t my place to speak when her highness was asleep. But now that you’ve kissed her awake, I see no reason to maintain golden silence, especially as my expertise could be instrumental in…”
“Hang on, hold it. I didn’t kiss her.”
“I didn’t! I’d remember kissing someone.” He wasn’t about to ascribe to this revisionistic history, no matter how poetic it might be. I didn’t touch her.
“Well, naturally you didn’t kiss her directly. As Platonic principles propounded so proficiently, two cannot meet without a third to bring them together. Just as ether bridges heaven and earth, I connected the two of you, as I’m sure nothing else would’ve been considered proper.”
Mordekai just stared at him. I’m going mad. I’m hearing things. He was seeing things, too, for he was fairly certain the bumblebee smiled at him–or made a change in expression that was meant to be a smile.
“Consider me your genius,” Brisbane continued.
Evil genius, maybe. “If what you say is true…now what?”
The insect remained unhelpfully quiet.
“I mean…she doesn’t expect…she couldn’t…”
“Your official betrothal is postponed until we find a member of the cloth, of course. To say nothing of vanquishing the villain of the realm.”
“My…you think she expects me to marry her?”
It seemed it was the bumblebee’s turn to stare. “Surely you don’t mean to abandon your claim on her hand?”
“I didn’t make a claim on her hand.”
“Forgive me, but you did. By coming to her aid…”
“I was exploring a castle!” Mordekai shouted.
The bee flew about his head in a fussy sort of way before settling down on the shoulder of the goat. “Call it what you will, I was there.”
Mordekai rolled his eyes and then moaned. That hurts. “Should we really be discussing this right now?”
“We shouldn’t have to be discussing it at all. But that reminds me, once we reach our destination, you may rely on my discretion and my valor. I may have to momentarily relocate myself due to ominous elements, but you may trust that…”
“Wait, what does that mean? ‘Momentarily relocate’…you’re going to leave me in my hour of need, aren’t you? As soon as her vicious uncle shows up, you’ll disappear.”
“I will always be around, even if you can’t see me.”
Big help. His sister was right. The sooner they got back home, the better. It’ll be good to put some distance between me and my “brave sidekick.” To say nothing of the fiancé he’s trying to shove down my throat. She was pretty, no doubt about that, but he’d learned that there was a lot more to a relationship than looks. Besides, this whole thing is her fault. If we’d only left the tower before the goat smashed it in, none of this would’ve happened.
One of the character types that frequently crops up in fantasy is grandiloquence–someone who is fond of long speeches, complicated words, and euphemisms. Whether the character is a wizard, a golden droid, or a dwarf who’s too full of his own pride, these characters can create a fun contrast to the other, more adventuresome types. They are the academic salt in a world of “let’s go do something” types, and their stuffy nature can be a perfect foil to a great many situations in a fantasy story. There’s something delightful about putting these professorial people in situations that go against their wordy, know-it-all grain.
Also, these sorts of characters can provide a useful means of delivering information to other characters. If some element of history or geography is needed, they can fill the others in without it seeming unnatural or contrived.
However, the challenge with these sorts of characters is that they can quickly get out of hand. They can take over the book until the focus shifts from a fantasy tale to “how can I drive this character nuts?” Also, their wordiness can distance readers from what’s going on if the words become too long, too technical, and the sentences too complex. Like salt, a little goes a long way.
Until the next letter,
Copyright 2017 Andrea Lundgren
Photo courtesy of gratisography