For many, if not all of us who write Fantasy and Science Fiction, procreating species it’s very important. I’m currently writing in six separate worlds, the book that is in editing, titled Atolovus, the first installment to my series The Arch of Quorydun, centers on a planet called Solanar while a separate series is being written on a world called Korrynth. In both cases, I’ve done a good deal of research into a number of scientific branches in order to make the world and the many species that live on them believable. Every writer has their own way of doing this, and it can be one of the more time-consuming aspects of the story process, at the very least, it is for me.
When I began writing Atolovus, I needed a framework to make it unique. I chose a blue star for a sun, then I researched the difference of light and its impact on life. There is quite a difference, and it effects everything. After further research, I made the world about the size of Mars. That changes a number of other things like rotation and revolution, and gravity and time among others.
Once the environment is set, by means of a hand-drawn map, the first thing I do is populate it with species widely recognized in the genre I write in. That sets the factor for belief in place. Thanks to people like J.R.R Tolkien, and Gary Gygax, humans, elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits are now universal, and most of our own mythological creatures are as well, dragons, Unicorns, Minotaur, etc. That is the easy part.
My next step demands determining things like, borders vs environments vs civics; then race, skin color, height, weight, eye color, and diet. Diet takes me to plants and animals: what kind of plants, how are they different, and how are they similar. Which ones are poisonous, which ones aren’t, which ones are medicinal; the same is true of animals.
Here comes the work. The harder part is to take one step further and consider the types of life that aren’t common to us. Species evolved in a different environment, will possess different abilities and characteristics, but not so much that we can’t connect with them on some level. Every year we discover new ones right here on Earth, and the consistent variety remains astounding!
This is where things get fun. I’ve taken to creating my creatures and species in the same manner that a player in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons builds a character. I have my own list of criterias, and often I begin with a creature we have right here on earth. Then I ask myself what would change to make them adaptable in the new environment. I don’t do this all at once. I do it when it becomes necessary to introduce a species. Common reasons include domesticated species, food sources, and predators. That said, like here on earth, not all species native to a planet are widely known, and many times, the characters stumble across one in the wilds, on a ship, in the mountains, the plains, or even in a common conversation around a table, fire or deck of a ship.
My new editor, just recently asked me to send her a copy of my personal monster manuals/ creature compendiums. The fact is, they are mostly inside my head! I just haven’t had the time to list them all out on word docs. Guess I better add that to my daily list of goals! Happy experimentation everyone!