So does anyone have any tips or cool tricks for creating characters in a fantasy story?
Yes! Though, these are tips for creating creatures. Try combining two or more real creatures. For example, I created a jelly-fish like plant that has stinging tentacles that wave around. I combined plant and jellyfish. Also, I made another plant (plant freak here) that has giant pincers that shoot out when disturbed, like the pincers on a certain worm.
Also, to name them, try combining two latin words. For example, the jawed-plant is called a “osculumacri”, which is ‘osculum’ = mouth/kiss; acri = sharp, so basically, sharp mouth/kiss. Another one is the “curatio”, which is only one Latin word, for healing/treatment. Another is the “aermortem”, which I’m sure you can figure out: literally, ‘air-death’. Okay, now only two more, and these aren’t plants. First: “foliumoculus”, literally, ‘leaf-eye’ - definition of creature below. Last one: “hydrasaedes”, literally, ‘water serpent-miniature’, definition of creature below.
Sometimes, though, I just make up words. The jellyfish-plant is called a ‘perculoo’. I just made that up. No context. Here’re quotes from my book:
“Perculoos had star-shaped leaves with coils at the end. These coils would wrap around any small creatures that came too close and sting it before shoving it inside the center mouth.”
About the osculumacri: “The plants she was pruning had large centers and small petals along the edges. In the center was a large fleshy area that looked soft and squishy, but inside it hid a large set of pincer-like jaws that shot out to grab whatever touched the center. Usually, it grabbed an ill-fated dragon and dragged it inside where it was slowly digested. This often unnerved smaller children who loved the little shoulder dragons, but Narah had seen it happen so many times and knew the dragons were more of a nuisance than a help, so she didn’t care much. She had to chisel the jaws, which often grew so much that they overlapped each other, becoming unable to open fully to grab its prey, eventually killing the plant.”
“She found the curatio, fuzzy leaves that one rubbed on their face to relieve respiratory issues.”
“Ilayda was still at her desk, trimming an aermortem. These plants spit poisonous fumes when disturbed, but if one sprayed the plant with water first, then it would be fine. The plant was a large bush that was in a huge pot in the corner of the room. Every now and again, it would need to be trimmed to keep it a clean-kept plant.”
“The spider-like creature, Lennox told him, was a Foliumoculus. Above its three legs, which each had three claws at the end of them, was a head that looked like a flower with many petals. However, these ‘petals’ folded out when it was curious and in the center of each was an eye.”
“Narah stared into the water, watching the hydrasaedes. They stuck to the gems of the water, turning the color of the gem they attached to. They were the larvae of the little dragons that roamed the caverns and perched on the outcroppings for most of the day. When the larvae were changing form to become a true dragon, they would burrow into bottom of the stream and would emerge as adults. The dragon would be, as its larva form had been, the color of the gem it had lived on.”
I hope this helps! If you have any questions, LET ME KNOW!!! I’d love to talk!
Thanks for the help. In the story I’m primarily working on right now, almost all the characters are mash-ups of real animals. My main character group is part rabbit, part squirrel.
Not sure if this helps you, but I use a graphic art program to create my plants and animals. I’ve noticed I have an odd desire to create reptiles and insects, which probably says something about myself that I don’t want to look too closely at.
I normally base my names loosely on names that match the naming convention of the world, but I love @Birdie_Boo suggestion to use latin as the base. Makes a lot of sense.
I’d say you should think about what you need the creatures to do in the story and how they interact with their environment.
A fish creature lives in or near the water, a bird creature might live near a mountain, etc. If you want a creature that flies, they probably should have wings (unless they’re magic and even then, most dragons also use magic to assist their wings). If they live in a forest they might have appendages to brachiate (swing through the branches).
Basically, do the ‘Who, What, Why, When, How’ with the creature to help direct it’s creation.
Could you tell me what the program is?
I tend to look first at the needs of my story, and then expand from there.
The one story (potentially series) that I’ve done serious (non-cultural) worldbuilding work on has a couple of species already created that I needed for what I’m doing, as follows. (Names are Japanese-based, because the colonists that settled on this planet were mostly Japanese, with some Chinese and German groups tossed in, then Spanish added when a nearby colony failed and the remnants moved in with the rest of them.)
hyou-gisou: colloquially, “camo-cats”. This species looks like some odd combo of a large feline (between leopard and tiger in size, depending on location and ancestry) and a ferret body-shape. They have colour-changing tendrils instead of fur, which have the ability to sense nearby electrical/electromagnetic fields, including those produced by living beings. They have bone claws that are retractable via muscle changes, more like octopus teeth than like feline (keratin) claws. etc. They can see into the ultraviolet, but are unable to see red. (The latter of which was determined by the spectrum group of the sun.) They live in packs.
tankakushika: coll. “one-horned deer”: a large animal that looks like a weird mix of an ungulate (deer) and a unicorn, it has a mane of EM sensitive tendrils, and a tough horn made of bone that grows up from its forehead and over the back of the head to protect the back of its neck (one of the preferred killing spots of the hyou-gisou). The tendrils can sense the approach of predators, though they aren’t as sensitive as those of the hyou-gisou. They are the primary prey of the hyou-gisou. They live in large herds, and frequent plains and ecotone regions between plains and temperate forests.
The hyou-gisou were the first ones I came up with, because of story requirements - the ancestors of some of the characters were altered by genetic engineering with hyou-gisou genes in order to help fight a war they were losing - and I had fun bringing in cephalopod aspects to them, which then of course have to occur throughout a number of the various species on this planet.
TL;DR: It depends partly on the demands of your story, and Latin isn’t the only language you can get names from! (Though Latin does work for Western-based societies, since Greco-Roman civilization was the foundation of so many of our cultures, of course!)
May I also recommend, for both Creature and Being Creation, the book Creating Life by Randy Ellefson (available at Amazon)? It’s a reasonable book in terms of the basics for looking at creating both creatures and beings.
Edit: I’ve added a topic on book recs directly, at Book Recommendations for Worldbuilding Help.
Indeed not! Latin is a good choice because it’s both familiar and mysterious at the same time. But I draw on many languages.
If I had goblins, for instance, they’d be French. Their cousins, the kobolds, would be Germanic, and their other cousins, the knockers, would be Cornish. Any leprechauns would be Irish, of course, and brownies would be Scots.
An Indo-European smorgasbord!
My witches are all Basque, though…
Ooh! Interesting, given what little I know about the history of Indo-European vs. Basque…
@WriterofNumenor I use Daz Studio for the basics of my landscape, creatures and plants, creating some and modifying others to suit my needs. When it comes to mapping the world and solar system, I free draw using a simple art program called ArtBoard. For me it’s all about knowing where manmade and natural structures are and where the creatures/plants live.
Oooh, another DAZ|Studio-phile! (Though I must admit I’ve only created textures, not characters or creatures, in DS…) waves to you
Those camo-cats sound amazing. I absolutely love the idea of replacing fur with tendrils.