“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
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.) Creating New Races In Fantasy Fiction – by MLoriMotley (A general guide to race creation.)
3.) Creating Creatures for Your Novel – by Jill Williamson (A general guide to creature creation.)
4.) Creating Bestiaries and Fantastic Monsters – by B. Pine (Talks about the undead, mutants, and mythological creatures.)
5.) 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.)
6.) 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.)
7.) 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 a Character Of a Different Race – by Erica Price
2.) 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
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 33 Ways to Make Stronger 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.