Writing Tips Round Up: Feature creatures4 min read

by Jun 27, 2017Writing0 comments

A weekly round up of writing tips and inspiration

“You might want to invent your own creature. This gives you more freedom to do whatever you please, but you need to be aware that your audience will have no prior knowledge of your creature and will need to have it spoon-fed to them in a way they wouldn’t with a dragon or mermaid. You might find it helpful to weave them in with mythology surrounding big questions such as the origins of the world, birth, death, and so forth.”

Over at Penstricken, the last of a series of blog posts on writing non-human characters climaxes with a guide to writing mythological creatues, covering all the do’s and don’ts of your dragons, centaurs and any unique creature you might wish to add into the mix.

“If you get your facts wrong, you can push a reader right out of the narrative. For instance, do you know how far and for how long a horse can gallop before it collapses? No? I recently came across a fantasy novel in which the author had his horses ‘gallop mile after mile’. Sorry, but that would kill them.”

Horses are more often than not treated as tireless machines in fantasy novels, but the Sci-fi Fantasy Network takes this trope to task with their blog post on Horses and fiction: how not to kill a horse in one paragraph.

“Animal fiction goes to places that other stories can’t. The worlds are really different, and viewed through non-human eyes. The adventures are exciting because you can be hunted by a predator, swept away by a river, or battered by the weather. But the stories also have built in safety-valves because the characters aren’t human. And so authors can — carefully — go to more difficult places.”

This Oxford Owl blog post focuses mainly on writing animal characters for children, but also looks at the main reasons why animal fiction is so important: as a way to talk about society, religion, diversity and death. Essentially, education for kids with all the fun left in.

“Stereotypically, we think of dragons as either pure evil or benevolent good. Don’t use these. Your dragon will most likely be a long-lived creature, so you have to match that longevity with interesting goals, things that could only be born of being alive. Maybe your dragon is a boisterous environmentalist, or a quiet assassin.”

I had to slip in a post about how to write dragons of course, as who doesn’t love a good dragon? Invisible Ink take you through all the checklists of creating your winged beast, including physical traits, personality, backstory and quirks!

“If you’re going to have an animal character in your story with a bit more *pizzazz* then you need to set the boundaries for yourself. Because, it turns out, there are just so many ways to write an animal character. From Gaspode the Wonder Dog, to the lions in Pride of Baghdad, there are so many options for animal sentience…”

Lastly, Plotist‘s Jenny joins in the animal fun with her post on how to use creatures in your fiction, whether talking and comedic or silent and loyal, complete with a checklist on what to consider as you shape them.

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