So twice now I’ve written about creating a fictional race/species. The first, on March 21st, was about the very basics. The second, on April 2nd, was about fleshing out the rest of the physical aspects. Today I’m going to talk about the finishing touches.
What exactly does that entail?
Well, what are the social structures? How does the race teach its young? What sort of jobs/occupations/responsibilities are there? How do they decide who gets which job? How do they treat their young, the old, and the infirm? Do they have a system that recognizes status?
All of these questions can apply to every type of race/species you create.
But how do you go about tackling them?
So on March 21st I talked about creating a race/species, and covered all the basic physical stuff. Number of heads, eyes, arms, etc. This is good (obviously), but it’s really only the start. You also need to know things like:
- How does it move?
- What does it eat?
- How does it defend itself?
- How does it mate/attract a mate?
- Where does it live?
These less obvious physical attributes of a creature are just as important as the actual physical appearance. This is what takes it from being a lump of clay, or a puppet, and makes it alive. Of course, you need a little more to make it a fully fleshed out creature, but that’s what the April 14th post is going to be about.
There are numerous different examples of races within fiction. There are the ever popular elves and dwarves, the traditionally villainous orcs and goblins, and the potentially badass dragons and griffins. With a hundred other possible examples that I could give, it’s easy to find pre-defined fantasy races to populate your fictional world. But is that what you want to do?
I’m not asking because I want to dissuade you. It can be huge help to use a pre-established race within your world. Rather than having to explain and justify why this particular set of people are long-lived, live in trees, are in-tune with nature, and elegantly sophisticated, you can just say “elves” and everybody gets it. You can even use less common variants of elves (small, mischievous, and magical) and people are still going to approach your story ready and willing to accept that this race of people look, act, and think a certain way. HUUUUGE time-saver.