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Featured Article

You Can't Miss the Library: Making Fantasy Worlds Accessible

Stark land sweeps from the buildings atop the hill. I’d liken farm fields to skirts.…

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If everything in life were black and white, there would be no confusion in any situation. You’d always know what to do, and it would be easy. But life is made of gray areas of uncertainty. Our choices and our perspectives make us unique individuals—and it’s no different in fiction. 

Moral gray areas and characters’ decisions about how to handle them make the story interesting and create both likable and dislikable characters. But most importantly, they create relatable characters. Life isn’t easy, and it shouldn’t be for characters, which is why all my books include those moral gray areas. Villains aren’t so easy to judge harshly if you can understand where they’re coming from. In fact, villains can be readers’ favorite characters and the most relatable ones. Most of the time they’ve been through hell, and a lot of the time, they never really came back. They’re still stuck in their own living hell, one made of poor decisions, pain, and confusion caused by their background. 

One of my most beloved characters in the Dark Victoriana Collection books is Jude from Brotherhood of Secrets, who is also the most dangerous character. He’s violent, has a lot of unresolved anger issues, and nobody understands him nor cares to. He doesn’t fit in Victorian society. His disturbed nature manifests in odd behavior, something he can’t fix without help. And the only man who offers him a helping hand is one with bad intentions, one who plays off Jude’s pain and tendency toward violence and uses it to his own advantage.

But can you, as the reader, really dislike a character whose weaknesses are used against him in such an ugly way? Can you condemn Jude for his actions, even if his violence saves some people from even worse brutality?

The complexities of characters in fiction reflect the intricate web of real life. Complex characters and moral gray areas are just a couple of examples of what makes fiction both relatable and enjoyable.

 

 

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