Humans have always had a fascination with merfolk, their tails, and their homes beneath the water’s surface. When they see you swimming among them, they’re bound to ask questions. Are you prepared to answer them?
When you craft a mersona backstory, you can answer even the most obscure questions!
These pointers will help you develop a story with depth and emotion, which will make your character appear more real to those you interact with.
Start with the present
It helps to start with what you already know about your mersona in the present. Consider questions like the following:
- What are their personality traits?
- Do they have goals driving their actions?
- What are their likes and dislikes?
A backstory, also known as a character’s history, covers who the character is and why they believe and act the way they do. For example, the backstory will show why you are always so optimistic or care so much about eco-friendly practices.
It’s one thing to know that sushi is your favorite food. However, most mers interact with children, and they almost always respond to you with “why?” It could be your favorite because you have memories of making it with your family or because it was your best friend’s favorite and you miss them.
Start with who you are as a mer right now, and then you can fill in the details of your past.
Broaden the scope
Once you know who your mersona is in the present, ask yourself the following questions:
- Where are they from?
- What did family life look like for them?
- When did they decide to show themselves to landfolk?
- What makes them happy?
- What makes them sad?
- What scares them?
- Who are their best friends?
- What is their biggest flaw?
- What is their role in the mer community?
There are many more questions you can ask yourself, but this provides a good foundation for your mersona’s backstory. In reality, you may not share every part of your character with others, but it’s important that you know even the minutest detail of their story. This will help you to stay in character and act as they would in every situation.
For example, if your mersona is from a colder body of water, they will likely wear something different from a Caribbean mer. If they were a princess or prince back home, they might act more dignified (or completely undignified if they despise that role’s responsibilities). This information will help you start piecing together why they are the way they are.
Identify life-changing events
Little details provide a plethora of conversation topics, but every character needs life-changing events. These are big moments that fundamentally shaped who your mersona is and how they act.
One great example comes from Scarlet, who later becomes Mermaiden Mariana in the Mermaiden Tales. She didn’t understand her power of Empathy and constantly felt others’ emotions pressing upon her. To make it stop, she left everyone she knew behind and traveled the seas without a mer companion.
It wasn’t until she learned that she was a mermaid princess (another life-changing moment) that she started learning to control that power. This helped her to make friends and feel more at peace with who she is. If you read her stories, you’ll find that she’s much more confident now!
Here are some other ideas of life-changing events that can get your creative juices flowing:
- Their first encounter with a human
- Meeting their finfriend
- Discovering their power
- The passing of a loved one
- Standing up to a bully
- Moving to a new home
Even humans realize that heroes aren’t perfectly good and villains aren’t always evil. Every soul has different experiences and emotional responses that add depth to their character. As such, your mersona should also have complexities.
They may be bubbly and optimistic, but they likely aren’t all the time. Consider what gets under their skin and what instances have caused them to lose their cool or let negativity in. This helps others to relate to your character.
Let’s look at Mermaiden Waverlee as an example. She’s the most bubbly, fun, and carefree of the gang, and she exudes confidence wherever she goes. However, Crystal saw a very different side of her when Waverlee had her first kiss.
She tells Crystal that she knows everyone sees her as a “flirt and a heartbreaker,” but would rather have others criticize her for something she knows isn’t true than attack the things she beats herself up over. This serious moment shows that while Waverlee is mostly bubbly and confident, she still has insecurities.
Think back to the question of what your mersona’s biggest flaw is. This imperfection is a beautiful addition to a mersona backstory.
Use your experiences
You may see other mers and feel jealous of their creativity and well-crafted mersonas.
If you’re having a hard time finding inspiration, remember that you have a well of unique experiences to draw from! Take a look at your life and background. No one else has lived a life quite like yours, so use your experiences to your advantage.
You may know what it feels like to move to a new school, be bullied, or stand up for what you believe in. Use the emotions in those circumstances to shape your mersona into someone you can understand. You can then alter the stories to apply better to merfolk and life under the sea.
Bring your mersona backstory to life
The best character backstories are full of experiences and emotions that others can relate to. Like humans, merfolk have goals and aspirations, as well as struggles and moments of self-doubt. As you piece together your mersona’s backstory, you’ll create a lifelike character that your pod and other beach-goers will adore!
What inspiration did you find to deepen your mersona backstory? Share your thoughts in the comments; it might help another mer in need!