Worldbuilding Series: Populating the World
Click here to read the first in our series: The World and Maps
I would say most worldbuilding starts out with the characters. They are the people (or creatures) who populate our stories. A story without characters probably isn't too much of a story, is it?
With fantasy, we don't have to resolve ourselves to normal humans. We can use our imaginations to create new human-like creatures, even new types of humans.
What do our people or creatures look like? Hair color, skin color, eye color, build. Are they small or large? Do they look like us? If they bleed, is it red? How do they walk? Are they magical? Or can use magic? There are so many intricacies we writers need to think of when we create our characters, especially magical ones. If you are reusing previously created creatures, how are yours different? Similar?
Fantasy involves so many different kinds of sentient creatures beyond humans, such as elves, dragons, orcs, trolls, fairies, etc. That's why it is so much fun--and so difficult--to write fantasy.
Think about the creatures you want to use. Imagine them. Write down their traits because it will come in handy. Seriously, if you write fantasy, especially with a lot of characters and multiple books, then it is really handy to have such details written down somewhere, so you don't mix things up.
When I was writing The Phoenix Prophetess, I knew I wanted the normal humans--there are some that range from Caucasian to African to Asian, but I wanted a human that was different too. I thought about this race living up north in the Great Beyond. The sun doesn't shine there much, so they would be very fair of skin. Well, I'm more of a moon child too, so I looked at my own skin. My blue-colored veins are pretty noticeable. Blue. What if these people have skin so fair that it makes them look blue? Yes! I also thought about my fascination with the blue people in Kentucky, so I had my new race. They have bluish skin and blond hair so pale it often looks white. Thus, the Great Beyonders were born.
Use what you know and don't be afraid to come up with something unique.
And you don't have to know everything right away. Personally, I often figure out some details later on in the drafts.
Have you ever created new creatures or races for your characters? Do you keep notes on what they look like?
Next month's Fantasy Chat: Worldbuilding: Cultures and Languages