5 Tips for creating character rules for Fantasy and its subgenres

Hello everyone in the blogosphere.

If you’re writing fantasy or any subgenre such as magical realism, urban fantasy or contemporary fantasy, here’s what I’ve learned to keep your characters in line with your story structure. I learned from Caitlin Alexander, author of She’s Still Here, published by Monarch Educational Services, to create a set of rules for your supernatural and/or fantasy characters and apply them to your novel. Use these five tips to create your own set of rules for your fantasy characters.


Create rules for your supernatural characters.


If you have ghosts or angelic spirits in your book, creating a list of rules will give you a specific direction to take these characters in, and will satisfy your readers. This especially true if you’re writing middle grade or YA magical realism or paranormal, but it can also work for adult paranormal and magical realism. Here are a couple of basic questions to consider when creating these rules, but you can make these rules your own, and create as many rules as you need for your standalone title or series.

  • Who has access to your supernatural characters such as ghosts, angelic spirits etc.?
  • How do these supernatural beings communicate with your contemporary characters?


Create rules for your society, team or group.


This tip applies to my Spirit Writer Society series, but it also applies to you if you have a group of characters who work together to solve a mystery, fight off an enemy, or resolve some type of conflict in your fantasy novel or series. Here are three tips that I used to create my Spirit Writer Society rules, which can help you create your team rules as well.

  • List the characters in your group, team, council etc., and each character’s specific role in the group.
  • List the team rules group members must follow at all cost.
  • List the consequences members will face if any of the rules listed above are broken.


Create rules for unusual characters.


If you have an object that serves as a character in your story, create rules for this character to go along with your other supernatural or magical characters. For example, the Stepping Stones in my Spirit Writer Society series is a character in itself, because it has special abilities. This serves as a reminder for me to create my own list of rules for it. Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Create a list of abilities for your unusual character.
  • Create a list of rules the character must follow when using these special abilities.
  • Create a list of consequences when the character breaks these rules and their effect on other characters.


Create rules for your magic system.


If you’re writing Epic Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, or Fantasy chapters for children, I highly recommend creating a magic system and a set of rules for this system. Along with the rules, I also suggest creating a list of things that can go wrong if the rules aren’t followed for your magic system.


Create rules for your fantasy villain.


Here’s a bonus tip just for fun. Try creating a list of rules for your supernatural, or magical villain character. For example, I have a character in a fantasy chapter book sitting on my computer that is an evil Ballerina doll, mounted on a table, in the center of the toy infirmary. She spins the magical land of Stuff-a-Doodle into chaos as she spins on her table. Once I’m finished with this magical realism series, If God leads me to pick up this fantasy series, I’m going to create rules for this character as well as my magical toy characters.

Have fun creating these rules and let me know how these ideas have sparked your creativity and how you’ve been inspired to take your story to the next level in the comments, or by creating your own blogpost with a pingback to this one. I’d love to hear how these tips have helped you hone your writing in fantasy and its subgenres.

To learn more about Magical Realism as a subgenre of Fantasy, check out this blogpost by Kim Ventrella, author of Skeleton Tree.

I also took a deeper dive into this topic on today’s YouTube video and podcast episode.

Until next time, happy writing and God bless.



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