Friday, February 10, 2017

World blip – complex fauna

Sure, we’ve got under our belts the basics of creating fauna for our stories (and if you don’t, check out the last world blip, to get up to speed).
What’s next?
Well, we actually create the creatures.

This is going to be a fairly short post, since I’m currently writing this late at night in the middle of a theatre festival (no questions asked… I’m just at a college theatre festival it’s a pretty cool thing but also irrelevant so I don’t know why I’m still rambling on the subject). I’m going to give you three basic steps to creating the specific aspects of fauna for your world.

1.      Conceptualization: time, space, and reference

Before you can really create a concrete image of your animal, you need to start by creating the physical realm it lives in, and what sorts of references it may have.
Therefore, you need to know three things about the exterior forces acting on your creature: first, you need to know the time this creature resides in. For instance, if you want a dinosaur-like creature, you probably don’t want to set it in 2017. Rather, it’d be better set in either prehistoric times or a medieval fantasy where “dinosaurs” are called “dragons” or the like.
Or perhaps you have some sort of bird, and you want to set it in a world that’s similar to 1950s New York. Well, you can use that time period to make sure that similar bird would also exist there.

That leads to another point (I’m actually going out of order according to the heading but that’s all right, it flows better both this way and that): find references for your creatures. One of the quickest ways to develop an animal is to compare it to another animal that already exists and is out there. For instance, I just compared a creature of some kind to a “dinosaur”, and most of you got some vague idea of what it might look like. Same with when I compared it to a “dragon”.
You don’t need a ton of references, but at least one will help you create a clearer image.

And finally, find the space that your animal lives in. In other words, define its habitat. Define the type of place that it lives. Doing so will help you decide on the specifics that come later.

2.      Formulate specifics.

This one is pretty simple in concept, yet the har
dest part of the whole process. Here, you need to define all the details: the size, shape, color, identifying features, what it eats, what it hunts (or is hunted by), survival techniques, average intelligence, and all that.
You can find all sorts of “creature sheets” out on the web which details what exactly you might consider coming up with, so I won’t recreate that sort of thing here.
Instead, I’m going to sum them up with this sentence: define the basics, and define the unexpected details. Give us the things we need to know about all creatures (size, diet, etc.) and a few things we wouldn’t expect.

3.      Relate this animal to your story.

This is the thing you’ll do after you’ve finished all of those other details. Once you’ve created a place where your described animal can thrive in a time and place and function correctly as its own unit, then you’re ready to envelope it into the greater web of your story.
In short, this creature needs to relate somehow to the characters you’re writing about. Otherwise, there’s no point in creating it beyond an exercise in creativity (which isn’t always bad, but it’s easy to waste time on them too much). Instead, you need to find where your story and this animal’s life interact.
There, you find conflict, emotion, and a chance to describe something truly wonderful: a creature you created.

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