My book is firmly rooted in the high fantasy genre, as such, I have different races in my story. It was a helluva lot of fun creating these races or putting my own spin or flare on the standards *cough*elves*cough*. When it comes to being original with a preexisting race that has been celebrated throughout my genre for decades… it can be tricky. There are certain aspects that people expect from elves, such as, being in tune with nature. But you also can’t just copy paste someone else’s elves into your story. It’s a fine line and a crucial balancing act, and if you choose to go down this path then I wish you the best of luck.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, my worldbuilding for Hybrid was… lacking. So when doing the edits and following drafts, I had to scramble to add things to enhance the culture. My elves have their own language, naturally, not that I display the whole thing, but the occasional word thrown into speech and references to places that my MC has never seen. This adds a layer of depth to my elves that was absent in the first draft. The first words I added that weren’t place names were things like Amalí and Tefá, meaning pure blooded elf, and mixed blood respectively. If you’re struggling to create a race and make it your own, I’d say making up words for things in your book would be the best place to start.
When it comes to making up your own creatures, the same rules apply, but with a twist. There are no preexisting expectations for your new creature unless it is modelled off another. I have both of these in my book in the form of mirron and shadows. Mirron means riverfolk in my book, which may give you an idea of who, or what, they might be modelled off. But I say no more about them.
Instead, I want to focus on my shadows, my bad guys. I called them shadows because that is one of the prime fears many people have. Being afraid of the shadows that loom in the dark, because, in essence, it is fear of the unknown and unseen. I wanted to capitalise on that and create something terrifying. Needless to say, I failed miserably in my first draft despite shadows being my most developed race. Hey, not everyone is great at everything! For me, worldbuilding means adding a whole heap of detail. I am a chronic underwriter… you see the problem? It’s all in my head and not on the page.
My Shadows were strong, but not scary to my main character, thus they didn’t seem scary to my readers. So I added a level of terror. I give my readers a glimpse of body parts scattered everywhere, of houses painted with blood, of intestines hanging from branches. Half eaten humans and elves strewn everywhere and glimpses of still living people being dragged into the void. Enough to turn even the hardest of stomachs. Villains have to be scary, or what is the point? (Go check out Chris Fox’s youtube channel for some great rules for your villains and superb writing advice. I swear I’m on his channel every week…)
Another thing I did to give my shadow race some depth, was add classifications that I mention throughout the book. Sort of like difficulty levels. Starting off with the weakest of shadows, the foot soldiers at the Sacrete. Can’t speak and often are controlled by stronger shadows. Next are the Tivn who are deformed and blood hungry. Basically, these guys just want to eat you and will do anything to accomplish that task. One up from them are the Mendite. These lovely fellows are the group hunters of the shadow race. They hunt in groups of three to six generally and they are smart enough to strategise. You really don’t want a horde of Mendite at your door. If you’re lucky you won’t survive the experience…and if you do… I’m so sorry…
Now we’re getting into the really powerful ones: the Arcane and the Varsyl. Arcane are assassins, sent out only when needed they are smart and deadly. They are also the guards for the Varsyl, shadow royalty. Varsyl started off as cursed Humans, they live for centuries and lead their race in towards the goal of escaping the void and gaining back their world. Arcane and Varsyl aren’t deformed, they look eerily like Humans with shadow kissed skin and endless black eyes. For my race, the closer to Human they look, the more powerful and deadly they are. It fits.
These creatures were important for me to get right. I wanted for them to be terrifying, and, for me, the unknown and unseen isn’t a pleasant concept. Imagine you’re in the ocean, you can only see so far in any direction, there is no way for you to know what is truly coming. Now picture this is nighttime and it’s even harder to see. That is the kind of fear I wanted to invoke of the void and the creatures that reside within.
Well, now I’m inspired to go and write some more blood and death into the book, wish me luck! Have a wonderful day!
(image found on google, all rights to original owner)