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MatthewSharman

Edited two years ago. Posted two years ago.

creating creatures / species

How would you create sci-fi and fantasy characters / species in your own opinion how would you go about it, and which and what ones would they be.

JamesHammer

two years ago

This was a great question, and I thought it would be a good one to have some conversation from a variety of writers... I think when you want to create a whole new world and populate it with new species and characters, you should start with those that are essential to the story. What life forms are at the core of the plot... what life forms populate the world in which they live... I would look at mythologies that have done just that... Tolkein's Middle Earth, George Lucas' Star Wars worlds... C. S. Lewis' Narnia... all these worlds started with characters that were essential to the storyline, and then expanded out as their stories evolved. Making lists of species, characteristics, relevance to story/plot are good places to start building your worlds.

MatthewSharman

two years ago

You thought it was a good question james but we didnt get no replies on it did we

JamesHammer

two years ago

These forums are an interesting thing, Matthew... If you look through the posts over time, it seems that various people have tried to make connections here, but most of what happens is: someone posts a question or idea, gets no responses, and they move on from the site. There are lots of projects that seem as though they've been started, but no one has written on them for a long time. It doesn't seem like there has been a great deal of successful conversations here. It seems like most of the collaborators don't even come to the forums, it's mostly the new site visitors who post, then get discouraged when no one replies. I've tried to respond to most of the posts here recently, hoping to encourage more conversation... we'll see if it helps.

BloodVendetta

two years ago

James, I know this is a relatively old topic but I just wanted to say that your advice on how to begin with creating new species is exactly right. I have taken an incredible amount of my inspiration from things like Star Wars and starting with the core is definitely the most efficient way to begin.

JamesHammer

Edited two years ago. Posted two years ago.

Thanks, BV... I think effective writing is a very disciplined process and soooo much work goes into it on the front end... more work than most people realize or are willing to put in.

manvixen

two years ago

Bit of a late reply, but I joined long after the topic was started so not much I can do about that one.

In looking to success for inspiration, on the topic of creating creatures, a great place to start that hasn't been mentioned is James Cameron's "Avatar." It's not everyone's favorite movie because of the story, but what makes the movie great is the world Cameron created. The movie wasn't released until 15 years after he started working on the original idea, so he obviously spent a lot of time creating.

Of course, he was creating an entire new functional ecosystem, culture, etc. For those, his inspiration was the world around him. Cameron took note of places around the world that practically look like they were already on Pandora in the first place, like the Huangshan Mountain in China. Similarly, he looked at creatures that already exist here on Earth. For example, one of the larger creatures looks to be based from a combination of a rhino and a hammerhead shark.

Of course, based is an important word - the animals did not at all look thrown together. However, and I believe this goes for any aspect of a science fiction project, they were successful because they had the right amount of fantasy and relativity. We knew certain animals were like lizards or like cats, or even like dinosaurs, which allowed the reinvention of all these creatures to be all the more interesting.

Now, you probably don't have a team of scientists making sure your creatures are completely plausible for you (and if you do, high five, because that's awesome) but you should make sure that the creatures also make sense in some way. If you want something that looks like a manta ray but flies through the air, it needs to look like it can breathe air and take flight. So, instead of gills, maybe some sort of air sacs? I'm just coming up with ideas on the spot here, I'm sure you get the point.

Also, you'll have to design enough creatures to make the world seem complete, but you won't have to make a complete world's worth of creatures. I believe there were really only eight kinds of creatures, not including the Navi, in Avatar that were shown in any detail. Our rainforests have more species than we really even know of but that knowledge didn't cross the mind when we saw how fantastic every other creature was.

So basically, it's a delicate art, but there's inspiration everywhere. Do research on all kinds of animals and go from there. Everyone else's advice is awesome too.

And, for the record, I'm sorry this is such a long comment.

JamesHammer

Edited two years ago. Posted two years ago.

Great response, Dylan... We're just glad you joined the conversation. Absolutely no need to apologize at all.

I loved Avatar... It was such a visually stunning piece of film, regardless of how people felt about the storyline. It was good movie-making, but then again, it was Cameron... a man with a history of great film-making.

You hit on some great points. Thanks.

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