Monday, September 16, 2013

Going Further Outside the Box with Urban Fantasy Characters

I had a great time at the annual Savvy Authors Summer Symposium online writer's conference last month, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to host an urban fantasy brainstorming forum for the event this year. The most popular discussion focused on fantasy creatures in the genre - which new types have excited us, up and coming trends, and which supernatural tropes we're all getting sick of. As usual, opinions were all over the place, but most still believe even the most commonplace creatures can be made fresh with a little author magic.

What I found even more interesting was the expressed desire for characters with new attitudes and characteristics that have nothing to do with what kind of being they may or may not be. It was a welcome reminder that true diversity in any genre goes far beyond the character's surface traits. It goes further than the desire to see more POC and LGBT characters in urban fantasy, though personally I still want more of both. We want heroes and heroines whose unique worldviews and personalities stand out even more than any powerful abilities they have.

Where are the pacifists, the shrinking violets, the socialists? What about someone with a religion that's not some form of Christianity or paganism (and neither seems to inform their decisions when used) - Buddhists, Hindus, etc.? Where are the disabled characters who may be deaf or autistic or physically crippled in some way? It's time to broaden our horizons and reach outside the box of generic tough girls (and guys) who almost all reflect the same mainstream beliefs as their fellow UF counterparts.

I tried to think of a few examples outside the norm off the top of my head, but nothing came to mind. I know there has to be a few out there, so hit the comments if you have some examples to share of any contemporary fantasy characters with distinctive personality traits or belief systems. Or let me know what kinds of new character types you want to read about.



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