I’ve decided today to do a very writer-centric blog today. So here we go, a little talk on one of my favorite things in fantasy writing – the creatures.
I think one of the most important things in fantasy writing is thing that make it a clear fantasy piece. That clear thing is more often than not the creatures of that particular world. The main go-tos for this are typically things like unicorns, dragons, and other animals or humanoids (like elves) that we already know don’t exist in the real world. Do not worry, I am not going to claim that there is a serious problem with writing in creatures that have already been seen before. Really, if we write any humanoid creatures at all including humans, we are putting in something seen before. My point is simply this: never, ever underestimate your own creativity.
One of the great marks of a good fantasy series is the ability to make a convincing world. While it is certainly interesting to have known fantasy creatures, or even lesser known fantasy creatures, always remember that this is your world. You have power here. You are the god of your own paper universe. So while you are more than capable of using other people blueprints, never feel you need to follow them exactly. Is it cool to have fire-breathing flying creatures? Yes. Is it cool to have dragons? Yes. But nobody ever said they needed to look like an exact replica of Smaug from Lord of the Rings, or Daenerys’ dragons from Game of Thrones. In fact, if you want to make them look like a giant flying fire-breathing squirrel and still call it a dragon, you are more than welcome to do so, although it probably won’t be as intimidating. There are really no rules here.
Really, someone should bring back the Wyvern. Maybe it’s not as elegant looking, but heck, it is awesome.
Furthermore, don’t be scared to deviate completely from all past fantasies and make your own completely unique creature. A good example is the slime from the Final Fantasy series. Who would think that a giant piece of sentient goop would be an interesting enemy? Yet somehow, not only did they run with it, but they have appeared in almost every version of the game since. They’ve even shown up in multiple other franchises, including one where they are the main characters. With that in mind, never be afraid to make up your own creatures, no matter how dumb they may sound in your brain.
A note regarding creating creatures… if you plan to make a hybrid, choose creatures of similar environments. Even in nature this seems to be the case. A platypus is the best example. It is clearly its own separate creature, yet looks like the mixture of a beaver and a duck. Both of those creatures live both in and out of the water, and therefore the mixture of the two does the same. Yet it also has its own style. Do the same with your creatures. While it may look interesting to mix two totally different creatures of completely different environments, it probably won’t help them exist as a creature. That is, unless you have one really whacked out environment that it lives in. Think of what exists in the environment that makes it look that way. Animals basically use every piece of their body for something, it’s up to you what to do with it.
Still, don’t worry too much about how it looks. Just because it sounds weird doesn’t necessarily means it doesn’t work. Heck, I once had a creature in the series that was a created by mixing and matching pieces of a gorilla, a mountain goat and an elephant! It turned out totally awesome.
Don’t worry, a lot of these work for your more humanoid creatures. That’s how cat-people came to be, and most everybody loves them. Although, strangely, you never see platypus-people, or giraffe-people, or even dog-people. Am I the only one that sees the potential here?
That’s all I have for today, go forth and make epic fantasy worlds with epic fantasy creatures!