Art by XSereneiX
Perhaps one of the hardest subjects to tackle in a story is to provide a deep sense of diversity. Creating characters of varying ethnic, and political backgrounds to me being some of the hardest. For one, a typical trope often seen in fantasy is the idea that species equate to a specific race, which then inhabits a specific set of cultural stereotypes. Elves must be pointed eared lovers of nature and magic. Humans are the jack of all trades race. I think these are both solid ideals in the RPG world, but to me, I y worlds to be filled with lots of depth.
Before I’ve often mentioned how to build a strong world, so that history, and conflict arise from disagreements. This is pretty much how all war, and struggle occurred in history. Much of the warfare conducted during the time leading up to, and right after the reformation was based upon the arrival of the sectarian protestant movement. Even today in the Middle East many are still driven by the age old rivalry of Shia, and Sunna sects within Islam. So when I write a story, I like to delve into how either side or the multiplicty of sides to an issue is never really that simple.
Events are not Monocausal
If I have not said it already, I will say it again. A good plot is not based upon necessarily a singular individual, or a group or an ideal. It comes down to the agenda of people, and ow their actions cause reactions in the world. For Arrow Child this was the actions of Professor Doukas discovering a body which then set of a series of reactions. In Land in the Stars, much of the conflict is based around the age old maneuvering of the ruling Houses known as the Sovereign Game. In both cases the agenda of many different factors is in play. How that results comes fro the diversity of opinion, and background for all those involved.
So instead of playing chess in my stories, I’m playing risk with chinese checkers stacked on top of it.
History is the other big thing in diverse plots. In a lot of cases I stick to very simplistic plots. Person A wishes to accomplish a goal, while Persona B wishes something related to or completely the opposite. Then I introduce characters with their own agenda’s and see if the original POV can manage to accomplish their goal. A lot of this is then influenced by the history of the groups, and the personal history of the individual. For Eysha in Insurgent Skies, a life as an orphan and despised Djinn born was all that was required to be turned into a living weapon.
Then attach a radical native insurgency, and Esyah being trotted off to combat it, and you get a strange story of occupation, and how even the occupied can be far from redeemable.
And the Twist
Note, this is a Lady in the Water or Village kind of Twist. Its using the diversity that has been created to foster new complications, and resolutions for your character. The Enemy of My Enemy is a common trope that can be used when different groups clash in the Game of Thrones. There is also the idea of not only shifting alliances, but common ground found after a sense of communitas born from common struggle. Part of the story that will be seen when I eventually write the Nyla novels will be about an ongoing curse her family owes to the creature known as Jack O’Shadows.
The curse itself is minute, but the way it shapes Nyla’s relationships with others, and with how Jack perceives her will be quite fascinating to see in the long run.