Novel writing has many faces.
The mysteries, the adventures, the romances, the paranormals…
If you are anything like me, when you read a novel, you may probably pause at some point and stop to think: If you were the one that wrote that novel, you would probably have added A, B and C or removed X, Y and Z to make the storytelling have more pizzazz. Maybe the author should have disclosed so and so about the character. Or maybe the last scene should not have ended the way it did, and there was probably a more clever way of bringing it to a close that would have made you, as a reader, more satisfied.
Most especially, if you are a reader who loves to read paranormal novels, you may probably have wondered a time or two about the way the unusual characters in the book were developed, the quirks about them that makes them so different from regular ‘everyday’ folk, the things that you would have loved to see explained better about them so that you have a clearer sense of knowing the character you were reading about.
Indeed, a lot of novels leave me with such questions too. I used to read a lot of paranormal novels, where I notice that the writers of those books have struggles with building the character of their paranormal protagonists, more so than other types of novels and their characters. Today, my appetites have changed, and I have converted from reading paranormal novels to reading supernatural novels. Yes, there is a difference between paranormal novels and supernatural novels. See my blog about how extremely different they are.
If you already understand the difference between paranormal and supernatural novels, then you will probably also appreciate the fact that building a story character with a persona that suits a supernatural novel can be quite challenging.
In my world of storytelling, a supernatural character in a novel is someone who has a persona founded from the Bible. If you are familiar with my book writing, you will notice this about it. This does not mean that the character is a preacher, a pastor or some ‘holy’ character that the reader may not be able to understand or relate with. In fact, it could be quite the opposite.
Therefore, how do you answer the question: How can I create a persona for the supernatural character in my novel? You can do so by performing some research into the supernatural in Biblical histories that will help you gain an idea of how to build your character’s persona.
I have discovered 5 ways to effectively build a supernatural character, and found that if I followed these steps, the supernatural protagonist in my novel becomes someone I want to read about, and not a legend from a Biblical story that took place a long time ago! The character becomes real and relatable.
Here are 5 steps to creating a persona for the supernatural characters of your novel:
- Start with research – Who do you want your character to resemble?: You probably want to borrow features from your favorite biblical characters in order to create a character of your own that has Biblical references and elements. For instance, do you want your main character in your novel to be like Moses? If you are familiar with the story of Moses in the Bible, he was the man that God had sent to rescue an entire nation from slavery in a land where they had lived for generations. While these views are purely my own, and you may have your idea of what Moses’ character is truly like, I would say that some of the personality traits of Moses was that he started out as a coward who could not perform bold actions openly. When he was discovered for taking one bold action during his younger years in Egypt, he ran away from the land. However, the new Moses that returned to Egypt was a different person – A man who could give orders to an entire nation, including ordering about a king who was the most powerful ruler in the world in that era.
To build a character for your own novel using Moses in the Bible as an example or a foundation, you should conduct some research on the man, Moses, and find out some good, featural elements about him that would help you build a persona for the character you are creating in your novel.
- Make your supernatural character relatable and real: It is something that most individuals may not admit – But studying the Bible or understanding the people that the stories were about can be hard and boring for most people. In fact, you may not be able to relate to Biblical individuals. For example, I have never come across any person who has told me that they understood the man, Isaiah, after reading his writings in the Book of Isaiah in the Bible. He wrote of visions, but can anyone truly tell what the real man was like, his character? Maybe I am just a nerd, but would it not be fun to dig in and start inquiring into what he was like as a person, the things that made him relatable (or not) to people in his community – And once you have discovered it, you can cretae a character for your own supernatural novel who has the features of Isaiah! Even more fun, this new character will be living life through your novel, making decisions, and experiencing emotions (especially if you are writing in the romance genre). You want your reader to think: Ah! I am reading a book about an unusual character who has some Biblical, supernatural characters in him, but is, in fact, human just like me.
- What are the absolute quirks of the character you have created/Things they cannot stand?: It is normal that an average person has quirks. For example, I know of a man that will absolutely not lift up a finger to help someone else get something done unless that thing that is getting done is in his job description. I know this may be present in many individuals’ quirks, but hey – Help a fellow out, even if only a little ways and not all the way outside of a job description! Such quirks make us out to be the imperfect people that we are. Anyways…I digress. The point I am making is – You don’t want to make your supernatural character too ‘perfect.’ The character should have things about him or her that would make the reader nod and say: Yup. That brother/that sister has flaws – Even though he/she has all those supernatural abilities going on with him/her!
4. Let the story’s conflict contradict the personality: You want to create a character who has a feature in their persona that is in direct conflict with the challenge they are facing in the story. For instance, I mentioned an individual who would not do a job unless it was written in black and white that the job was intended for him. Let’s say your supernatural character has a personality that says: “I will never date a girl who is not from my hometown because girls closer to home are more comfortable to be with.” If that is the conflict that your novel’s character has in him, you probably want your romantic novel to throw him a wrench where he comes across a girl that is not from his hometown, and who represents everything that is the opposite of comfortable. In fact – I have written a book like this. You should check out my author landing page about my book coming out soon: Cross Border Dating.
The point about conflict: Throw a wrench in the story that completely challenges your supernatural protagonist’s persona.
- What is the character’s uniqueness or the message that the character can bring out for themselves or for others in the novel?: Finally and most importantly, when creating a supernatural character using Biblical references, you want to figure out exactly what makes them ‘supernatural.’ For instance, Moses in the Bible could split up seas, with some divine help, of course (Now, how many guys have been able to do that today?). King David was a mighty warrior so that all the neighboring countries knew him as a man they did not want to mess around with. He was described as a commander over an army where one man in his army could take on one hundred other soldiers from an enemy camp, all by himself in a battle. I guess David was that epic to be able to command followers that were that strong. In fact, I have written a book about such a Biblical character. Find out more on my author page about “The Warrior King”, book coming soon. The point I am making is, when creating your supernatural character, they need to have something unique about them, the thing that makes them ‘supernatural’ or extraordinary, when compared with other people. Like David, the mighty warrior. Or Moses, the man who divided the Red Sea. All with divine support, of course.
If you consider these 5 points for your supernatural novel, you may be able to start creating personas that are founded from the Bible and yet relatable with everyday living and your readers.
If you have written a supernatural novel (not to be confused with paranormal), share it below and let the community hear about your story! For more on the difference between the supernatural and the paranormal story, visit the blog about the 5 thing that make a supernatural novel different from a paranormal one.