Character Spotlight: Jaylan Forester

One of the most enjoyable aspects of starting this blog has been sharing information about Mundia, the fantasy world in which The Vaetra Chronicles are set. In past posts, I have done Creature Features and Location Lore posts, and I do intend to do more of those.

But this time, I’m trying something new: a Character Spotlight. These posts will focus on a particular character from my stories. I’ll share details about the character and a brief excerpt from the novel that shows them in action.

I’ll be careful to avoid spoilers from the series, but I’ll admit that knowing more about the characters may make them a little more predictable if you later read the books. I say “may” because knowing everything about the characters has not necessarily made it possible for me to predict their moves reliably! While writing, scenes occasionally unfold in a way that only makes sense in retrospective. The way the subconscious interacts with creative expression is a strange thing.

Jaylan Forester is my first Character Spotlight. He’s the main character of The Vaetra Chronicles. The first book, Vaetra Unveiled (scheduled for a January 31, 2012 release), is told mostly in first person from Jaylan’s perspective. The book includes a few scenes where Jaylan is not present, and those scenes are told from the perspective of Sword Sorceress Sulana, in third-person limited. I’ll probably write the second and third books of the series the same way, but with a couple more third-person viewpoints.

Each of the major characters in my stories gets a “character sheet.” I start with a template and fill it in. The template has evolved over time, but the information provided below is what it looks like as of now.

Jaylan Forester Character Sheet


JaylanForester Played by: Me, appearance circa 1987

POV: First person
Age: 26
Gender: Male
Race: Human, Caucasian
Height: 5′ 10″
Physique: Average build. Stronger than appears.
Hygiene: Good
Eyes: Green
Hair: Reddish-blonde, collar-length.
Facial Hair: Red mustache, red beard in winter
Complexion: Pale, sunburns easily, liberally freckled arms
Attractiveness: Average/unremarkable
Clothing: Comfortable and functional. Wears linen most often, wool jacket or cloak when weather is cold or wet. Favorite armor is a leather cuirass with chain mail sleeves attached.
More: Unusually long arms give a surprise advantage in sword fights. Great sense of balance.


Place of Birth: Northshore, Lakewoods Province
Education: Literate. Basic math skills. Limited knowledge of history
Gifts and Talents: Analytical mind. Sensitive to the nuances of behavior in others.
MBTI Personality: INTJ “The Scientist or Wizard” – autonomous, imaginative, logical, organized, independent.


Jaylan was born and raised in Northshore. His mother is a seamstress and his father is a carpenter. When Jaylan was 12, his family moved to Plains End, where construction work was more plentiful than in Northshore. Jaylan never cared for Plains End. When he grew old enough, he joined the Imperial Guard. When the opportunity arose, he transferred to Northshore. He did well in the guard and was recognized for his ability to assess a situation quickly and act decisively. He was promoted to Guard Captain at 24, a very young age for such a position. His fellow guardsmen were respectful, but not enthusiastic about his good fortune.

About the time of Jaylan’s promotion, his friend Griz Onsul purchased and began renovations on the Snow Creek Inn. Underestimating the cost of the task, he started to run short of funds and Jaylan offered to become a silent partner in the enterprise. Griz accepted his offer. Part of the deal included Jaylan getting the use of an apartment that was attached to the building.

Jaylan did well as Captain of the Guard. Too well, in fact. He uncovered a conspiracy involving the Governor’s family and fell victim to politics. He lost his command and was expelled from the Guard. He took a position with the Raven Company, an organization of mercenaries, and became known for his investigative skills. Jaylan, through the Raven Company, became the resource for people who were unable to get satisfaction from the Imperial Guard.

Jaylan’s friend Griz died not long after Jaylan was discharged from the Guard. After Griz’s death, Jaylan felt responsible for helping the man’s wife and daughter with the inn, although he was not interested in becoming a full-time innkeeper. His time and attention was divided between the Raven Company and the Snow Creek Inn, so he was caught by surprise when he learned that Griz’s daughter Dela had started making plans for the two of them to run the inn as a couple.


Jaylan is the main character of the story. At the beginning of the story, his goals are uncertain because he is still putting his life back together after being expelled from the Guard. He likes his work at the Raven Company, but work is slow and he is unable to make a full living from his contracts. He does not like working at the inn, but business there is picking up and his help is needed. The emotional distraction of Dela’s attentions makes matters worse at the inn.

When an attractive sorceress takes him on an unexpected journey, he finds himself facing new choices, new possibilities, and new risks. He much choose between continuing to fight the battles he understands, or taking on a new set of unknown challenges.


[I can’t share this part with you because it would be nearly all spoilers. However, as you can probably guess for yourself, the story is about Jaylan choosing between two paths, both of which have different potential challenges, rewards, and implications.]

Side Notes

You may have noticed the “Played by” label in the character sheet. One of the first things I do in a character sketch is choose a person I know or an actor to play the role of that character, as if I were casting a movie. Jaylan was originally modeled after a younger version of me, but normally, you’d see an actor’s name there. For example, I recently cast David Tennant (Barty Crouch, Jr. from Harry Potter) and Elyse Levesque (Chloe from Stargate Universe) as characters in the next Vaetra Chronicles book.

I use the POV label to identify Point-of-View characters. For most characters, the value is “N/A.” Vaetra Unveiled has only two points-of-view, but the second and third novels of the series include one or two additional third-person limited points of view. What can I say, the bad guys demanded representation!

MBTI Personality refers to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which groups people according to 16 personality types. I find that the MBTI makes a great starting point for layering the motivations and attributes of a character.

Excerpt from Vaetra Unveiled

The following (unedited) excerpt is from Vaetra Unveiled. The scene takes place in the Snow Creek Inn after Jaylan meets with his boss Borlan about a new assignment possibility at Raven Company. But first, he has an errand to run…

I opened the door to the inn and walked into a dark serving room filled with mouth-watering food aromas. The kitchen was busy preparing for the evening meal, and my stomach growled in anticipation. Weak afternoon light filtering through the front windows barely fought back the gloom.

The regular patrons seemed to prefer the gloom, as they were all huddled at tables near the back of the room or hunched over stools at the bar. Oil lanterns hung along the overhead beams cast a pale, unsteady glow upon their quiet conversations.

Dela looked up from wiping down the bar and called to me. “Where have you been? I still need you to get those potatoes and chives for Mother’s soup tomorrow.”

Dela is one of those women who dominates the room. Her tall, full-figured build caught the eye of most men, while her green eyes and full-lipped smile charmed them. She moved with confidence and purpose and brooked no foolery from the patrons. Men who had the temerity to pinch her butt as she walked by usually found themselves led out the front door by their ear with the admonition not to return until they had learned some manners.

One of the men at the bar looked over at me and chuckled. I rolled my eyes.

“I told you I’d take care of it, and I will. I just need to pick up the list you made,” I said.

“Where were you anyway?” she asked. “You’re going to run out of daylight.”

“I was at Raven Company. I have a lead on a new contract and needed to meet with Borlan.”

She frowned and looked down at the counter, scrubbing a little more vigorously. “Things are busy here, and I need your help. Can’t you put off your contracts for a while?”

“It doesn’t work like that,” I said patiently. “I’m either in or I’m out. Raven Company needs men they can rely on to take contracts when they are available.” I knew my mistake as soon as I spoke.

She stopped cleaning the counter and threw the cloth into a tub of water with a splash. “I need you to be reliable too! Spring business is picking up, and it’s too much for just Mother and me.” She came around the counter, wiping her hands on her apron, and stood in front of me. She put a hand on my arm and spoke more softly. “Besides, I need you. We can’t let all the hard work that Father did go to waste. I don’t know what would happen to us if the inn were to fail.”

I sighed. “You know that running an inn has never been my ambition. I invested in the inn so I could have the apartment and help out your father.”

She rubbed her hand up and down my arm affectionately. “I know, but you can’t return to the Guard, and Raven Company doesn’t have enough work. We have plenty to do here.”

I knew it was useless to continue the discussion. We’d had more or less the same exchange every day for the past month. The idea of settling down with Dela and becoming an innkeeper had its appeal; it would be the easy path to take. But whenever my thoughts went down that path, I felt like I would be betraying Griz and maybe even Dela. I remembered Dela from when she skipped around with a rag doll in her hand. She was grown now, but I still had trouble seeing her in a sexual way.

But, unfortunately, she was right. Things were slow at Raven Company, particularly for the investigation work I preferred and that Borlan singled out for me. Meanwhile, business at the inn was on the rise. We were getting more travelers, and the locals were discovering that the kitchen served an excellent meal at a reasonable price.

I wished Griz were still around. Things would have been so much simpler. He would have been thrilled to see the inn beginning to thrive, making all that hard work, the work that essentially killed him, pay off. It wasn’t fair that his heart gave out just as he was completing the renovations.

Dela’s eyes scanned my face, seeming to read my train of thought. “I know,” she said quietly. “If father were still here, things would be different.” She looked down at the floor. “He’d take care of the inn, and you could run off on your adventures.”

As much as I cared for Dela, and as much as I hoped the inn would grow into the success Griz had envisioned, Dela’s subtle manipulations got on my nerves. I needed to leave before I said something I’d regret.

“I’d better get going. Do you have that list?”

Dela looked into my eyes for a moment and saw the unyielding set of my face. She went over to the bar and came back with a slip of parchment that listed the things she wanted me to pick up. I looked over the list and decided I should have plenty of time to take care of it before dusk and get back for my meeting.

I turned and headed out the door without saying another word. I swore to myself that my future would not consist of running errands for Dela.

No Longer Me

When I started Vaetra Unveiled, my writing was almost a role-playing game. I essentially put myself into the middle of a fantasy story. However, as often happens when role playing, the character went his own way and became someone else. His physical appearance may be based on mine, but at this point, his history and circumstances make him do things I’ve never had to do or would never consider doing. It was fun to watch Jaylan evolve.


I hope you enjoyed the first Character Spotlight as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you.

Would you like to see more posts like this? Am I giving away too much about the characters?

How do you create characters? Do you work up a full history, appearance, and personality? What are your favorite tools for developing characters?

Tell me in the comments!


I have blog comments turned off because of problems with spam. Feel free to use my contact page if you would like to get in touch with me.


  1. How do I create characters? Not nearly as well as you do or as fleshed out before writing. I know the basic stuff on physical appearance. I also know the story…I do that first in the world-building. Then I put the character in there to kind of fit the world I’ve made. I like this spotlight. That’s a really well developed character.

    Have you by any chance played Skyrim? It has these kinds of details. I think you’d love it. For me, it’s kinda like immersion into my own story.

  2. Hi Michael. I’m glad you liked the spotlight. Thanks for sharing a little about your process. I started getting so detailed about characters when I realized my story is character-driven. The more effort I put into character development, the easier it was for me to formulate the story. Kind of the opposite of what you described, which sounds more plot-driven.

    I have not played Skyrim, although I did play Oblivion, which was amazing. It’s a subject for another post, but Oblivion is partly what made me decide to start writing fiction. I know exactly what you mean by immersion in story. The detail they put into those games is awe-inspiring.