With the publishing of War of Nytefall: Lost, I’ve introduced a literary aspect that I’ve done before. Not exactly since Lost has a bunny and Fizzle is a dragon, but both of them can be seen as mascots. In Legends of Windemere, Fizzle really stole the show and hearts of the audience. The bunny isn’t really the same, but he fits the humorous and ‘cute’ quota. Another story that has two mascots is Quest of the Brokenhearted, so one could say that I really enjoy adding these animal characters. They are a lot of fun even though they bring on a few difficulties such as overuse, putting dramatic scenes at risk, and not always being able to carry a scene on their own. That being said, here are some tips.
- Cuteness is neither necessary or the sole trait for a mascot. Yes, there has to be a visual appeal, especially if you want to make some merchandise with them. Still, there must also be a personality or behavior side to the character. Then again, there are plenty of mascots that don’t even talk and are just ‘cute’ creatures in the background.
- Your series mascot might end up being something that you didn’t expect. I never thought that Fizzle would rise as high up the popularity ladder as he did. Sure, he’s a cute dragon with an adorable speech pattern and powerful magic, but I didn’t have a lot of scenes for him when I started. When I noticed that he was a big draw, I gave him more to do and expanded his role to more than just being there. This made him a mascot with more meat to him.
- Even if you go for a creature that has been used before, you need to put your own twist on it. Having a cat that is nothing more than a cat won’t really be appealing, especially if it’s in a book. Visual mediums give you more leeway, but books require that you make them stand out more. Lost’s bunny is a good example since rabbits are commonly used to get the ‘awww’ factor. This is why the bunny flies, fights, looks rather decrepit, and doubles as Lost’s purse.
- To be fair, humanoids can be mascots too. This might end up being a little easier because these characters can speak to reveal their personalities. An animal or monster that has no clear speech has to work solely off actions. Taking a humanoid as the cute/funny mascot of a series means you have more to work with. A downside is that this is fairly insulting to the character and can make it that they have stunted development.
- Much like any comic relief character, mascots should be used in small doses if they’re only there for laughs. Otherwise, they could ruin every serious scene and quickly wear our their welcome.
- It is possible to have more than one mascot. They can be a team that works together or two separate individuals that appeal to different groups. Another option is to have feuding mascots. The good guys can have one cute or impressive creature and the bad guys can have another. They don’t have to openly feud, but it’s more that one is good and the other is evil. A reason for this is that some in an audience will gravitate towards the villains instead of the heroes.
- Try to come up with a catchy name. It can be the species or the creature itself, but a name can make or break a mascot. This could require some testing if you aren’t sure of it. It doesn’t have to be cute either. Just something that can stick in the mind and, possibly, roll off the tongue.