Creating Fantasy Creatures: It’s Okay to be Unoriginal

Everybody loves Hobbits and Thestrals and Wookies.

A Thestral from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

A Thestral from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

What do these creatures all have in common? They are unique to their particular stories or worlds (as in Middle-Earth, the Harry Potter series, and Star Wars, respectively). It’s fun to read about (or watch) new creatures in fantasy stories, and it’s just as fun to create them. Inventing the name for your new creature, what the adults look like versus what the babies look like, culture and language, what they eat, where they live. All of these are important world-building tasks, especially if you’re inventing a new species from scratch. We all want to be original and have our fantastical races stand out in the fantasy-creatures crowd.

But I’d like to make the argument that it’s okay to be unoriginal – at least to start with. Thousands of years of human culture has given us hundreds of amazing and creative creatures in mythology and folktales from around the world. Continue reading

Advertisements

Fairy Gardens

Recently I discovered that one of my neighbors has been bringing his passion for art, magic, and eclectic fun to his yard. Every day when I go on a walk, his yard is a little bit different: a new fairy statue, a new little toy hidden in the crook of a tree branch, a toy castle or a yellow brick that finds a new spot in the yard each day.

My friend and fellow writer Bonnie Watson was visiting the other day, and I wanted to show her my neighbor’s yard. She blogged about it, and included far more lovely photos than I’ve managed to put in my post. It’s interesting to note that up until this point, I had never met my neighbor. I knew that he (or she) had to be a kindred spirit. Well, the owner happened to arrive home just as Bonnie and I were taking photos of his yard, so he came out to greet us.

This sign is a recent addition, and lets you know to expect the unexpected if you follow the path into the woods

This sign is a recent addition, and lets you know to expect the unexpected if you follow the path into the woods

He took us through his entire yard, showing us all the treasures that he’s collected over the years of life, and other items that he’s dug up in his own yard. Apparently his property was used as a trash dump before the house was built, and so for an amateur treasure-hunter like he is, it’s a gold mine.

So many beautiful rocks – all dug up from his yard – arranged to transport you to a time of prehistoric magic and mystery

So many beautiful rocks – all dug up from his yard – arranged to transport you to a time of prehistoric magic and mystery

His entire lot is heavily wooded and left semi-wild, with treasures both natural and man-made scattered about. One day I want to have a yard like this – a life-sized fairy garden with new surprises to discover every day.

the path at the edge of the yard, with a thoughtful little bridge to span the ditch at the edge of the road

The path at the edge of the yard, with a thoughtful little bridge to span the ditch at the edge of the road

I’m working on the beginnings of such in my own yard. I’ve cleared a little spot at the edge of the woods, and I’ve got the beginnings of a fairy garden going (it’s fairy-sized, but I do have a human-sized bench in the clearing). It’s not much, but it’s my own little spot of magic.

Fairies like pine trees and moss

Fairies like pine trees and moss