Updated: Jun 13, 2022
Professional UK book editor & lover of fantasy offers exclusive advice for writers who want to create their own fictional species or race!
Creating a brand new species for your fantasy novel is f*cking difficult, but if you're not keen on writing yet another tale about elves, dwarfs and orcs, a unique race you can call your own may be the best path for you!
So many fantasy writers dream about creating their own race, but like I said at the beginning, it's bloody tough and takes a lot of time and effort.
However, for my fantasy novel, I've created an entire race of sentient reptilian creatures who inhabit my imaginary world, which has taken me years to do, but doing so has given me the tools to be able to do it again in the future.
My reptilian race have been close to my heart since I created them as a teenager, so I'm not going to reveal any details about them, or even their name, but I thought it would be helpful to provide a list of questions to think about for when you're creating your own fictional species.
It can be so easy to just focus on their appearance, but there's so much more to the creation process than their looks, so scroll down for my list of questions!
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What classification of animal or creature do they resemble? (e.g., mammal, reptile, amphibian, fish, bird, etc.)
How would you describe their appearance? What's their skin like? How tall are they? Are they slim or stocky? Do they have hair or fur? Do they have scales or wings?
How do they move about? Do they have two legs like us or are they different?
How do they speak? Do they have their own language? What's their voice like?
Where do they live? What's their habitat?
Are they the dominant race in their habitat? Are they an apex predator like us or are they hunted?
Is their race well-respected in their society or are they often discriminated against for who they are?
What's the general nature of their race? Quiet and peaceful like Hobbits and Elves, playful and close-knit like Dwarfs or evil and barbaric like Orcs?
Do they wear clothing or is it acceptable for them to live without clothes?
Are they solitary beings or do they prefer to live in groups?
Are they religious? If so, do they worship one god or do they believe in multiple like the Ancient Greeks?
How do they think the universe began?
If they're religious, is it acceptable for any of them not to worship their god/s? If not, what happens to the non-believers?
What's the climate like in their habitat? Does it change all the time or does the weather stay the same all year?
Do they need to work to keep their society going? If so, what jobs do they have?
Does their society have schools, colleges and universities? Do they have to train in combat or learn magic from a young age?
Is there a monarchy or a government that runs the kingdom? Are they pure or corrupt?
Do they walk everywhere or is there some form of transportation? Carriages? Chariots? Horses? Cars?
What's their main flaw as a species? For example, are they greedy? Easily corruptible? Distrustful of others? Selfish?
Are there different classes in their society? For example, lower, middle and higher class? Do they keep slaves or do they have to work as servants?
Are there any crucial points in their history that should always be remembered?
If they're a magical race, how does their magic system work? Are there rules or laws? Can magic be learned or are they born with it? Do they need a staff or wand or can they cast spells with their bare hands? Are there any restrictions?
How long do they live? If they're immortal, is that indefinitely or can they still die in battle?
What do they eat and drink?
Are they herbivores, omnivores or carnivores? Do they have allergies? Are there any foods that could poison and kill them?
Do they wear socks? May sound strange, but imagine an elf or dwarf wearing socks...
Are females and males equal in their society?
What do they use as medicine? What would be in their first aid box?
How do they measure time? Do they have clocks and watches? Do they watch the sun?
How many days/weeks/months are there in a year? Do they have unique celebrations throughout the year?
Thank you for reading to the end of this post, it means a lot and I really appreciate it!
If you found this article helpful, please like, comment and share so it can reach more writers who could use the advice, and if you're looking for a professional book editor in the UK, please feel free to check out my book editing services and get in touch!
- Chelsea x