Quest of the Brokenhearted has a lot of action because it involves a tournament to the death. Now, a tournament wouldn’t really be that interesting without its competitors, but I couldn’t have Kira battle mortals in a city of monsters. I needed to design a bunch of monsters to stand above the rest. They had to be challenging, deadly, and each one stand out to make their fights unique. After years of toiling with the idea, I gradually made a list of champions that also became my chapter titles:
- Paura Riders
- Ore Child
- The Rai
These came from three different sources too.
- Some were simply designed from scratch when I was planning the series. I had a type of fight in mind and they were formed around that. If not the battle then the reward that Kira gets from it. At first, all of the champions were like this, but I began phasing them out for creatures that had more established influences. Part of this was because they began to take on rather overdone themes.
- One monster stands out from the others because it’s one I’ve had on the shelf since high school. I always wanted to find a place for this thing because I was proud of how it came out in a series I scrapped. There were other monsters I salvaged and placed in other stories, but this one kept waiting for the perfect spot. Well, here it is and maybe I’ll get to revive it later. Fun thing about monsters is that many of them are species instead of single beasts.
- The others came from researching mythology. I didn’t always take the names or exactly how they worked, but they were inspired. This gave me a good guide to forge the battle around them. At first, I tried to take some obvious ones, but I tossed many of those in order to find obscure creatures. There were also a few that I changed at the last minute because I didn’t like how they came out in the scene, so I went hunting for a similar monster. Not to mention there was one instance where I realized I’d used the monster for a Legends of Windemere story and it wasn’t in a way that I could use it again. Oops.
This is actually a harder thing to write about than I expected because one of the surprises for each chapter is the champion. Nearly all of them are a secret until they appear for their battle, so I can’t really talk about them. Not in any detail or the big events of the story won’t really work. As I said, Quest of the Brokenhearted is fueled by action scenes and Kira’s own self-reflection. Both of those subjects can fall into ‘you need to see it to understand it’. I mean, I guess I could describe each monster in vague terms, but it isn’t as easy as the dragons, griffins, and trolls that I typically use.
With the subject being designing the champions, I should explain how these creatures came about. You know, I typically make bios for my main characters, but I didn’t do that this time. The Shadow Earl, Hyde, and Princess Cyrena got them while the champions were . . . a name in a chart next to a battlefield. Unlike my usual style, I went into their scenes with only a general idea, which meant the fights are a lot of back-and-forth and narrow escapes. I had no pre-planned method for Kira to survive because I never knew if I would write her into an early death. To be honest, I didn’t know what I would do if I wrote myself into a corner. At least to me, these made the scenes feel more intense and I really hope that carries over the reader.
This writing by the seat of my pants felt like a good test of my imagination and skill because I had to add powers and attacks to the champions. This was spur of the moment situations where they grew alongside Kira in order to top each other. An interesting twist was also how these monsters helped her move through her own problems. It wasn’t really intentional, which made it more fun. I’m not going to go full pantser though because I did have some issues at times. There were a few incidents where the champion fell flat and I needed to step away to think more about them. I did learn that it pays to be more flexible with your lesser villains/monsters though.
One thing I will say about designing the champions is that it was strange using the term after writing Legends of Windemere for so long. I make a note of this through Kira too. Perhaps one aspect of these creatures is that I’m deprogramming myself when it comes to certain words and phrases. Probably shouldn’t over do it though.