How to Create a Believable Prince in Your Fantasy, Historical or Romance Novel

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

How to Create a Fictional Prince in Your Novel | Historical Fiction Editor

Professional book editor in the UK helps writers of fantasy, romance and historical fiction how to create a fictional prince!

Royalty is a popular theme in various genres of literature, from historical to romance and even fantasy. Even today in our modern world, people are still fascinated by kings & queens, princes & princesses, and wealthy yet scandalous monarchies, so it’s no wonder that you want to create a fictional prince for your novel.

However, to create believable princes, there are five main factors you should consider, depending on your genre, of course. A prince in an Arthurian tale may be completely different to a prince in a fantasy romance.

As royalty is such a broad area, this post will focus on one specific rank. Keep reading to learn how to create the perfect prince for your story, even if he is far from perfect.

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1. Decide the Genre of Your Manuscript

Deciding the genre of your manuscript (if you’re only in the planning stage) is the first step to creating a believable prince for your story; the genre will shape their personality and ultimate goal throughout.

For example, if you’re writing a romance novel based around Arthurian Legend, the prince may be the chivalrous and romantic kind who has his eye on one lady he longs to marry. He may also become the classic knight in shining armour who remains loyal and compassionate throughout his marriage.

Related Post: 5 Captivating Books for Arthurian Legend Fans

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Although some women are now tired of the knight in shining armour, I still have a soft spot for a knight saving the day! It’s comforting and reminds me that innocent chivalry isn’t dead.

Alternatively, the prince in a romance novel could be a hopeless romantic who crumbles whenever he sees his love interest. He may be useless at flirting and appear weaker than the other knights in the story, but due to his gentle nature and lack of bravado, he could win the heart of his dream lady.

On the other hand, if you’re writing historical fiction similar to Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow and Conn Iggulden, you may decide to base your noble on a real prince or king from history.

If this is the path you wish to explore, the prince in your historical novel may have a different goal to a romantic prince.

Perhaps enemy forces plan to attack the castle and your prince has to fight alongside the king to protect the kingdom. If you’re writing a middle grade or young adult novel, maybe your prince has to learn how to fight or is still in training, making the final battle all the more dangerous. Maybe your prince has to embark on an adventure to rescue another character or a acquire a healer to save a dying relative in the castle.

These are only a few ideas for a prince in a historical story, but if their goal is to save their kingdom, castle, and people, they will likely need to be brave, adventurous, intelligent, physically strong and determined to save the day.

Related Post: How to Plan a Historical Novel in 3 Easy Steps

In contrast, the prince in your historical novel could be the bad guy who follows, or opposes, his father. Perhaps he comes from a family of arrogant nobles who have a lack of compassion for their people and consider themselves above everyone else.

Consider The Cruel Prince by Holly Black!

In this situation, maybe a main servant rises up to rebel against the crown and defeats them by the end of the story.

And if you’re writing a fantasy novel that centres around a prince, they may have a different goal and personality again. Instead of desperately trying to attract the woman of his dreams through charm or win a battle against the enemy through strength, a prince in a fantasy novel may be more mystical and elegant with a hint of eccentricity, a little like Legolas and Thranduil from Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Their goal may be to find and rescue a rare dragon from an enchanted forest before an evil noble family from another land destroys it, wiping the species from existence. Or maybe an ordinary teen grows up in an orphanage only to discover that they’re a royal prince who belongs to a magical monarchy.

As you can see from my examples for a romance, historical and fantasy novel, each prince would be completely different, which reiterates why it’s important to figure out the genre of your manuscript before you fully-develop your character.

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2. Give Your Fictional Prince Flaws & Weaknesses

Princes are often considered perfect in every way due to their handsome exterior, physical strength, and high status, but who wants to read about a prince who doesn’t struggle and can do no wrong?

No one!

Readers love to relate to the characters they invest in, and they want to believe they could be real people, so even if your prince dazzles the socks off the princess and charms his way into her heart, he still needs to be flawed.

And again, it all comes back to the genre of your story.

Let’s refer back to the romance genre and pretend that the prince’s goal is to win a woman’s affection. What flaws could prevent him from doing so?

Perhaps he’s super guarded due to being hurt in the past, so maybe he comes across as cold and rude? Maybe he displays too much jealousy when other men are around the woman he wants. Or as mentioned previously, perhaps your prince is just hopeless at flirting and can never pluck up the courage to talk to his crush.

On the other hand, in a historical novel, the prince may already have a wife and children he needs to protect, so his flaws may not delay the start of a loving relationship.

However, perhaps his greed and lust for power gets in the way of his marriage and his ultimate goal, or maybe he isn’t as brave as the king expects him to be for the final battle to save the kingdom.

And lastly, the prince in a fantasy novel may have different flaws again. For example, they may struggle to perfect their magical powers and prove themselves to their magical heritage, or maybe their magical abilities corrupt them, turning them against the rest of civilisation.

Related Post: 12 Tips for Writing a Gripping Fantasy Novel

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Whichever genre you decide to write, your prince’s flaws don’t have to completely stop them from achieving their goal, they just need to delay them so your readers can truly root for (or hate) them even more.

3. Consider the Way Your Fictional Prince Treats Women, Servants, and other Vulnerable Characters

If you’re writing historical fiction (in particular) that centres around a prince and the kingdom in general, your narrative may be set in a time when women weren’t equal to men; servants slaved away in the castle, and many of the kingdom’s people were vulnerable due to a lack of money and food shortages.

As a result, it might be worth considering the way your prince treats these characters, therefore displaying what type of person he truly is.

One of my favourite quotes is from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when Sirius Black says: ‘If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.’

And it’s absolutely true!