Writer Wednesday: Writing about Immortal Characters

You know those moments when you realize during the process of researching, you’ve saved entirely too many articles to Readability but you’ve tagged none of them? (Maybe you’re using another program, I dunno. Readability works for me, even on those occasions where I forget to categorize things to review later.) My stash is enormous because, I think, like a lot of people, I am wildly busy all the time and the pockets of freedom I have access to consume information are frenetic.

I will offer you exactly two seconds to capture my attention, and believe me, I’m probably liking, favouriting, or saving to come back to it later — nine times out of ten.

Research stopped being a leisurely thing the instant I started taking the side hustle that is writing seriously. I assign priorities accordingly. It goes: planning, production, research, screwing around time which often results in long stretches of weekend where I’m dicking around on the blog’s backend. The actual pie chart of these activities does not reflect their order. At all. I see you blushing in mutual acknowledgement, except that maybe your distraction-thing is macrame or something. I push pixels.

Even now, I’m hammering out the fluff for this article with maybe a half hour to spare before dinner. (It’s gonna be sushi. I am much excite.) The meat of this post I set out as an offering a week ago, and let me tell you, these are articles I’ve been hoarding like they were a stack of Canada-grade monopoly money.

Kids, I’m about to make it rain.

This is a particular collection specific to writer-types dabbling in the supernatural stuff. Since this is the place where I live and breathe ninety percent of the time, it follows that a lot of the content I collect for research follows a similar theme: it’s a little further beyond plot, or character, or scene structure — which are all valuable things to learn and improve upon — but this is nitty gritty research for people playing with paranormal characters, or even the deep fantasy-type writing that requires world building and an unusual framework for how you think about the stories you’re writing. I want to offer these to you because I found them helpful.

It is also, miraculously, the first in another series of articles catering to horror and fantasy writers.

I do this stuff, and I figure you’re doing this stuff. That’s why you and I are hanging out, right?

Writing about Immortal Characters

The thing about the human condition that is relevant to the normal world is that the risk of dying presents trouble for a certain set of characters: The living ones, or the ones with a standard life expectancy, or maybe the ones who don’t have magic or alchemy or haven’t been affected adversely by cryosleep and are not walking husks of their former selves afflicted with a severe case of frostbite and a thirst for blood to sustain them. (This is shaping up like a choose your own adventure…)

Else wise, if your character can’t die, what are the parameters you’re working with to present a threat?

I’m talking about immortality: what that means, what are its limitations, and how do you exploit it to create an interesting problem for the characters afflicted to contend with.

I collected a few articles that helped me out when I was trying to strength-test my story world propositions for eternal and unnatural long life, and I am depositing them here for you.

There were several elements I didn’t consider when I began the writing project I’m slogging through now, and this selection helped me poke around for the weak spots.

Writing About Immortality by clevergirlhelps

Origins, degrees, conditions, and a few things to consider while writing immortal characters: a brief primer for horror, fantasy, and urban fantasy writers. This is the basis for most of my research, and probably one of my favourite primers of all time. The first time I read it, it was like yoinking the cord to a hanging lightbulb while standing in a dark basement: a bit blinding at first.  Read it >

Types of Immortality by korisalt

Types of immortality: a top-level view of what makes for an immortal character and the limitations these classifications present, especially with regards to how they might die. The short answer: most creatures can totally be killed, but you should probably set a few parameters to make it believable. Read It >

Writing Immortal Characters by yourealwrite

The social and societal impacts of being extremely long-lived or immortal, and how this would psychologically affect a character in a contemporary setting. A few things authors are either not considering or bypassing in order to write teenage immortals, and basically screwing it up. Read It >

Tips for Writing Better Immortal and Long-Lived Characters by springhole

A discussion on failure points and implausibilities in the immortal set: another way of investigating the faux-pas of building immortal characters that are consistent and believable. Read It >

The Problem with Immortal Characters by Kidlit

On establishing stakes for characters who aren’t pre-disposed to dying, and a couple of mentions about apocalyptic-type scenarios. Read It >

Writing Immortal Characters by Mike Bode

A few considerations while writing immortal characters and the repercussions therein. Mike Bode points out a few things you may be overlooking when dealing with the death-impaired. Read it >


Got another article for me about creating immortal characters? Leave it in the comments. 🙂

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