Writing Fantasy Races
Creating the character races has got to be my favourite part of writing fantasy. I discovered early on in the writing process, that when we’re writing fantasy, our characters will depend largely on the type of world we envision them living in. Let’s say you have a fantasy world similar to Earth but with beings familiar to most readers of the fantasy genre. You’d probably include Elves, Dwarves, Humans, Halflings and one or two unique species of your own creation.
If you haven’t done so yet, now would be a good time to create a Pinterest board for your main characters. I find my Pinterest boards inspire me when I get writer’s block and help to keep me focused on the story I’m writing. Pinterest now allows you to add sections to your boards so you can have sections for—
- Main Protagonist
- Main Antagonist
- Secondary Protagonists
- Secondary Antagonists
- Fantasy World (more on that later)
- Scene Ideas
- Other things you need to keep track of (you can check out my board for my soon-to-be-published Dwarf fantasy here).
We create the visual story as we read so your readers will envision the story better if they’ve already seen what these species look like. I tried to find pins of similar races to my characters to start with until my graphic designer created amazing images for my book, The Fellowship Of The King.
If you introduce a new species remember to include a detailed description of the basic appearance of your character. Fantasy readers have good imaginations, but give them a little help by describing the character’s height, hair, skin, eyes, mouth, ears, gait, clothing and such.
You could run your description by a friend and ask them to draw what you described. Does it look like you envision your character to look like? What other descriptives could you add to create a clearer picture in your reader’s mind? You can even add a link to your Pinterest board so they can actually see the characters for themselves. Remember to add your own artwork if you decide to go that route. The board could also help to pre-sell your new novel as you write!
Your Fantasy Character’s Evolution
How will your races survive in the climate you’ll create for your world?
Do they need to live underground because their skin burns easily and their world has two suns? What other attributes do they have because of this?
Will they live in trees because the world has flooded from a melting ice age? How does that affect their appearance?
Have they evolved from the original species because of some catastrophe and now look completely different?
Perhaps a Dwarf race is now hairless because a specific ingredient has been lost from their diet.
Changing a few basic features will make your characters unique but you’ll need to know why they look different from LOTR races which readers will naturally gravitate towards while they read a fantasy story. I’ll talk more about backstories later, so for now, focus on who they are and their general appearance.
You’ll need to be careful of copyright when including a race which someone else has created. It’s safer to begin writing fantasy with races which are commonly known such as the ones I’ve mentioned, or connect with a writing coach to help you with that. Any race from folklore is a pretty safe bet too.
If you decide to create a new race, chances are your creations will end up on the internet somewhere and others will use them. Are you ok with that? If not, you’ll need to copyright them.
Be sure to add a watermark to any original pictures and always link them to your website. Readers like to know the author behind the story and the artist behind the artwork.
Have fun creating your very own characters! No one else can create your characters like you can. These are your people and creatures. How amazing is that?
Til next time, know you are loved by the One who bestowed upon you His divine imagination and created you in His image.