On behalf of Red Adept Journeys, please welcome Jasmine Giacomo! As part of her virtual book tour for the first book in her new fantasy series, Rebel Elements, I'm hosting her contribution to our A-Z Challenge. Do leave comments and please check out this awesome new series!
You can find the other stops in her tour here: http://redadeptpublishing.com/the-rebel-tour/
Please check out some of the other blogs in the A-Z Blog Challenge here:
Q is for...
Questing: the Search for Completeness
by Jasmine Giacomo
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.
You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet,
there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
– Bilbo Baggins, Lord of the Rings series
The quest is a major theme in fantasy writing—one of the Big Five. It takes many forms, depending on plot, character, voice, and theme, but at the heart of every quest lies a single driving force: the need for fulfillment. Something, somewhere, hasn’t been completed. Yet. And the characters, willing or not, have to do something about that.
Quests are similar to conflict, in that there are internal and external quests. Does the main character seek something within himself, some answer that will explain a deep motive or irrational reaction he possesses but cannot explain? Or does she travel the world (or maybe just the neighborhood) in search of that which will complete her, or someone to whom she owes something—a ring of power, the heart of the demon-boy up the street, Her Majesty’s favorite cream pastry and bath salts?
Internal quests serve a fabulous purpose: the character knows he is flawed and seeks to remedy the situation. He has a good sense of self and a desire for betterment. Strong protagonists with deep character development are the Holy Grail to fantasy readers who enjoy character-based stories. A hero may go about bettering himself in entirely the wrong manner, though, and that’s where the fun comes in. Misguided questing can lead to everything from capering hijinks to villain creation.
|"What is your quest?"|
Villains, in my opinion, need to be worthy of their heroes. They need to be strong enough to present a challenge. That means they have to be powerful enough, motivated enough, to have become heroes themselves, if not for a single misguided choice, or perhaps a string of them. Villains’ quests need to be entirely as interesting as those that belong to heroes—at least to the villains.
This is not to say that external quests do not possess an equal amount of appeal, though. While an internal quest leads the reader into the heart and mind of a single character, an external quest treats the reader to as much worldbuilding as the author desires. Real, physical quests let cultures, traditions, terrain, and creatures into the story. The more detail the reader picks up as the characters explore, the easier it is to fall into the world and never want to leave.
External questing can pit a character against many kinds of obstacles. Some can be physical, such as crossing all of Middle Earth or finding one’s way past a lover’s locked door. They might be social, involving bribes or threats against a powerful figure in the community, or offering a future favor to an untrustworthy ally. They could involve an actual battle, whether one-on-one or with entire armies. If magic is a big part of the world, it often gets displayed nicely during quest conflicts.
Quests remind us of our own goals. As long as a character is trying his best, whether he succeeds or not, it’s hard not to cheer for his journey. Because we all want to be heroes, in the end.
Jasmine Giacomo writes from Washington State, where she lives with her husband, two children, and a Bichon Frisé named Eddie. She graduated last millennium with a degree in English Literature from a college built atop a volcano.
Though she's been writing since the age of four, she also enjoys geocaching, history, science and games, and holds a black belt in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu. She particularly enjoys reading and writing fight scenes.
Her current writing project is book three in the Seals of the Duelists series. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, G+, Amazon, and Worlds of Jasmine.