Thursday, November 4, 2010
Some say that the unicorn is an offshoot of the Rhinoceros. What I mean is that when people first discovered the rhinoceros they couldn't take a picture of it and they had no clue as to what to call it. Makes sense that in trying to describe it to another person they would say "it's kind of like a horse but it has a horn right in the middle of it's forehead". And voila, maybe that is how the unicorn was born. And over the centuries the description of the unicorn changed and modified until it became what we know today.
And this is one of the best tools you have when it comes to creating a creature or creatures for your world. You can look at existing creatures and modify them. In particular you can exaggerate certain features. And these features can be very expressive of what the creature is all about.
Take a creature and give it bigger eyes or bigger ears and you can use this as a tool for how the animal would behave. And of course you can take a creature and give it bigger muscles. This gives you a fighting version of the same animal. So, one of the techniques of creating a new creature is to take an already existing creature and distort it some way whether that be a new horn, bigger muscles or a change in size.
Combining creatures, and combining humans and creatures
Another great technique is the blending of different types of creatures in unique ways. One of the most famous, and most effective, examples of this is the adding of wings to creatures that don't normally have wings. The is a good example of this. Now you have a horse that flies. It is a very unique example of a great hybrid creature.And of course some of the more dramatic examples of hybridizing come when you mix humans and animals. Things like the centaur or the mermaid are great examples of this.
And, let's not forget to be creative! When we are talking half human and half something else we can't leave out the werewolf. It is quite distinct becuase it isn't always half and half in form. It is half the time a human and half the time a were wolf!
This peculiar distortion that is the werewolf brings me to some of the most dramatic and most effective creatures that have been thought up and you shouldn't overlook this aspect of creating creatures. It is the distortion or changing of human beings. They becomes something that is somewhat human yet not human at all. And fantasy writing is full of these examples - the best of which is the Vampire!
The wonderful thing about a creature that is part human or used to be human is that you have a lot of writing tools that you can attach to it. The human side of it allows you to more fully characterize it. You can write emotions, thoughts, contradictions in the whole spectrum and apply them in normal ways or distorted ways to the creature.
I guess my point here is that your imagination is the only limit to what you can create. I hope this article has given you some great ideas. I would like it to be longer but I feel the sun will be coming up shortly and I really have to return to my coffin.... err.... bed.
I want to thank Will for his guest post here at Eerie Alliance. Stay tuned for an exclusive author interview with will that is coming soon. Be sure to visit Will's blog at Will Kalif's Blog