Too random a personality?

Question: My novel is a high fantasy that takes place in a desert empire that is mostly based on Ancient Egypt (with some Japanese influence too), and in the deepest reaches of the desert, where humans could never go, live various supernatural spirits; we'll call them "demons" for the sake of simplicity. A central character in the book is a prince of this empire whose mother is actually one of these demons, a powerful spectral lion with control of the sands and the gift of shape-shifting. Among the pride, mating with humans is taboo (it dilutes the "sacred blood" of the pride) and so this hybrid prince is raised exclusively by his human relatives. His heritage gives him a preternatural beauty, incomparable skill in and out of battle, and certain inherent magical qualities. But he is cold, angry and ruthless, even sociopathic, in his behavior; princes of this people are given their own cities to rule and in his city, the most trivial offenses carry the death sentence. Anyway, two of the major subplots of the book are A) The prince's romantic struggles (with a foreign prince no less... any pointers?), and B) Winning acceptance into the pride. My first problem is how the two princes could develop such a relationship - not because of gender (though the foreigner is "straight" for the most part...), but because of the hybrid's personality - once that initial "first glance" has been established. My second is, though the hybrid is meant to be somewhat unbalanced, when he's around the pride, his half-siblings (who despise him) in particular, his cold exterior shatters; He

becomes a timid and lonely little brother craving his family's acceptance, and is desperate for it to the point that he is willing to do literally anything. Do you think these two sides, little kid and psycho, clash too much? Could I really pull such a personality off and make it work smoothly? Any help if appreciated! Also, and help on that romance front is welcome too. Sorry for typing up such a storm here...

P.S. About the romance - it is the hybrid who actually falls for the foreigner; he is confused at experiencing this sudden feeling for another for the first time in his life. I thought I needed to be bit clearer on that...

Answer: When you have a character full of seeming contradictions, what matters is that you find a way to make sense of them. A character must be consistent in order to feel real. The reader should feel that, if he were in that character's situation, with the same wants, needs, beliefs, experiences, etc., that he would act the same way - or at least that he understands why the character acts the way he does. You don't want to "break character" by suddenly having the character act in a way contrary to his established nature.

So what you should try to do is figure out how these apparently different behaviours are actually consistent with the character's true nature. Show this true nature to the audience, so that they can see that it makes sense for him to act differently in different situations.

It may take some work, but it will pay off.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Character Invite.