“Are two eyes, four appendages, and an upright posture really essential for any creature that can ace the galactic SATs? Maybe not. In fact, I’d venture that any aliens we ever detect or (less likely) encounter will look quite different than this self-referential stereotype.” – Seth Shostak 

Reading Assignments:

Read only the articles that are relevant to the world and characters you’re building. 

Note, the use of the term “creature” in the assignments below is a blanket term to include everything mentioned below.

Creatures, Monsters, Gods/Goddesses, and Other Races 

The first two articles in this section talk about “race” meaning elves and dwarves. See the section below this for human racial ethnicities, such as Chinese or African.

1.) 3 Steps for Creating Realistic Fantasy Races and Creatures – by Kaitlin H. (A general guide to creature and race creation.)
2.) How to Create New Species for Your Fantasy Novel – Kathy Edens

How to Create New Species for Your Fantasy Novel

3.) Creating Creatures for Your Novel – by Jill Williamson (A general guide to creature creation.)
4.) Intelligent Design: 5 Ideas to Help You Create Mind-Boggling Fantasy Creatures – by Sophie Playle (Explains using weird creatures from science that have actually existed to create your own.)
5.) The Alphabetical List of Mythical Creatures – by Mike Belmont (This list includes some basic information on beings such as fairies, demons, and other things you’ve never heard of. This site also includes lists of Greek and Egyptian Gods. The descriptions are short, but they’ll hopefully get you thinking if you’re not sure what type of creature your world needs.)
6.) 8 Tips for Creating a Pantheon for Your Novel – by Jill Williamson (Creating Gods and Goddesses. You’ll want to know a bit about your world’s religion(s) first, which was covered in the section on culture.)

Human Racial Ethnicities

1.) Writing With Color – by Colette, Alice, Jessica, & Lesya (A blog dedicated to writing and resources centered on racial & ethnic diversity. We share writing advice, guides, book recs, and more. The link here takes you to their FAQ page. Read that for what you need, and see their guidelines for asking other questions if you have them.)

Specifically About Aliens

1.) How To Create An Alien Species In 3 Stages – by Veronica Sicoe
2.) Writing Realistic Aliens – by Writepop
3.) Science Fiction Problems: How to Write Aliens – by Erik Marsh


Writing Assignments:

1.) Make notes on your creatures. Where do they live? What do they eat? What do they look like? What do they do all day? Ask yourself “why?” for every answer that pops into your head.  
2.) Using the article 51 Questions You’ve (Probably) Never Asked About Your Characters, create an otherworldly character, whether that character is a werewolf, unicorn, alien, or a being of your own creation. Make them relateable to the reader, especially if your creature is sentient.


Class Discussion:

1.) Discuss the articles you read. Where there any that were more helpful than others? List 1-2 things you learned that maybe you hadn’t known or thought of before. This is also a good place to reintroduce yourself, if necessary.

Getting in the Mood:

1.) Write for 15 minutes: A newbie human meets your creatures or a new-to-them human culture for the first time. What happens? Are they afraid when they shouldn’t be? Do they need to defend themselves, or are they fed a three course meal? 
2.) Split into smaller groups, if necessary. Each person gets a chance to read their 15 minutes of writing. 
3.) After each person reads, others give feedback: a) What worked? b) What needs more work? Be as specific as you can.

Group Assignments:

1.) In small groups or one on one, have one person take on the persona of one of their creatures. Thinking back to Kaitlin H.’s article, let the other group members ask the speaker what they, as their creature, look like, where they live, and what they know about their culture. Help the speaker make their creature better by asking other questions as they come up. Switch speakers and repeat as necessary. 

LTWF: World-Building Course Syllabus