Book Characters: Born in or Dropped in?

I am beginning to get all my ideas for a book in one place but I need help with how the beginning of the book should go when it comes to my characters. I want to hear your opinions on a character being born into a plot or dropped into a plot. 

Born in characters are characters that were born and raised in a certain setting (ex: an elf born in elven lands and raised there). Dropped in characters are characters born and raised elsewhere but dropped into the setting via plot (ex: a human born and raised by humans but found themselves in elven lands for plot reasons).I am torn on which I should use because of the various pros and cons of each. Born in characters are obviously the most realistic and have the ability to just get to the meat of things, but could leave little natural space for exposition and have the reader confused in some areas. On the other hand, a dropped in character could be easier to relate to as a reader who is also experiencing the world for the first time but could lead to info-dumping and a possible white-savior esc character (an outsider coming in and fixing all the problems). Thoughts and opinions?

6 Answers

  • 3 months ago

    You can use both. 

  • 3 months ago

    You are GROSSLY over-thinking this.

  • 3 months ago

    Like MsBittner says, that depends on the story.

    Personally, I think it's a bit of a roundabout way to approaching plot, and it's not as black and white as you portray it here.

    Since you feel that born in characters are more realistic and give you the ability to get to the meat of things, then this sounds like it could be the best solution for you.

    As for your concern that it might leave the reader confused, I suggest you read some fantasy novels (I assume this is your genre since you mention elves and humans) where the author dumps the reader straight into a different world. Note what you like and what you don't like, and try to analyze how the author pulled off the things you like, and what caused you to dislike something.

  • 3 months ago

    My opinion is that you should just "drop" the lot of them and abandon the entire project. It sounds horrendous. However unlikely it may seem, I hope this helped.

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  • 3 months ago

    This is such a major element we couldn't possibly advise you which works better for the story you want to tell.

    One aspect to add is that when you have a dropped-in character, their ignorance gives you the chance to explain to your reader what's what, via a local educating that character. You can sidestep the white savior issue by having them not be the one who saves the world. S/He can be the villain, the ally, the forbidden love interest, etc.

    Confusion is never acceptable. It's on the author to make sure nothing makes the reader go, "Huh?" Read current science fiction to see it done masterfully, as the authors explain how worlds and beings unlike any we know operate. (I recommend N.K. Jemisin and Brandon Sanderson.)

    Likewise, infodumping is unforgivable and I'll stop reading a book that does it. There are ways to work in whatever you need without dumping.

  • Elaine
    Lv 7
    3 months ago

    It doesn't matter which you choose.  You have to decide if the character drives the plot or the plot drives the character. .

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