I have written a little about this topic before. In the previous posts, I explain what I like to see in fantasy races and how I try to make mine different from others. This time I would like to explore the creative process of developing a new race of beings for Goandria.
The challenge I find is that a new race needs to be both familiar and fresh at the same time. If people cannot relate to a new race or are not captivated by the societies, they will not care. It is important to forge race groups to have special characteristics, but not all the same. Most would agree that humans have similar characteristics, but each person has his or her own worldview and personality that brings something unique to that individual.
Here is an example from Goandria: The ferrorian people are quirky and odd with an overall immaturity. They are much like children. However, a few (such as their leader) are calm, wise, and very intelligent.
In Visions of War (the novel that follows The Schism) I add more beings, such as the katzians and sala. Good fiction creates well-rounded races, and sometimes these new peoples only appear for a short amount of time. The trick is for the author to imply a depth and richness within the race without having to go into great detail on each one. Of course, this method can only work so much, and some people groups will naturally be better-rounded than others. When writing, everything must have a purpose, and determining the purpose of new fantasy creatures can be problematic.
I often have exciting new ideas about different creatures, but characters often lead the story more than the writer does, and more often than not, I cannot show a new creature or civilization in-depth at all. I aim to have character-driven fantasy, but sometimes that makes it difficult to show just how large and rich Goandria really is because doing so will not fit well into the character’s lives. Someday, perhaps after a couple novels, the scope and diversity of Goandria will be revealed in more depth than it is today.
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Have you ever written a paper in High School or College that you feel was excellent, but the title was an elusive monster that just would not reveal itself? I have, especially on those assignments that allowed me to pick my own topic. Worse yet, when I was required to do a creative assignment, it had to have an engaging title. What is an engaging title? That seems rather subjective … well sort of.
Obviously, being a novelist, I love creative writing. Writing is in my very soul, but titles on the other hand … titles are hard. I’m not here to say that I have become an expert at it either. Just know that if you struggle in this area, you are not alone.
As an author, it is my responsibility to grab a reader’s attention. The first things a person sees on a book are the cover and the title. These are two of the most important elements of a book. If a cover or title is not attracting attention, no one will care to read the summary. If the summary isn’t read, the book probably won’t be read either. There is a lot of pressure to get the titles just right, and that is something I am still trying to figure out.
One thing I have found helpful is to bounce ideas off a friend or family member. Often, they help me come up with ideas I had never thought about.
I have written previous blogs on inspiration, and in some ways this is a continuation of that thought. One of the most powerful sources of inspiration for me is nature. The inherent beauty of forests or grasslands, the night sky, and a beautiful sunny day are inspiring in and of themselves.
Nature is pure and raw beauty, and a glimpse of an even greater beauty, one that is not fathomable. One of the richest experiences for me is walking through the woods at night. There is such awe and wonder in this that it fuels my creativity in ways movies, television, and even books cannot. If I am in an area where I can get a good look at the night sky, I like to ponder the vastness of not only our galaxy but of the universe itself and all the mysteries we have yet to discover or will never know.
It is this wonder and awe that I find so easy to translate into speculative fiction. There is always something more for humanity to learn, and nature reminds me of that every day.