World Building – Coming Up with New Races / Species

Welcome to another World Building Sunday. Thank you for joining me. ^_^

Today I’d like to take a look at a topic that has recently been very near and dear to me with my adventure in science fiction. Creating new races or species. Now, if you’re writing traditional fantasy or even supernatural, there are a smorgasbord of established creatures to play with and pull from depending on your setting, world, and overall desire. In the case of science fiction, your canvas is a fair bit broader. Well… in some cases, you could be working with an almost literal blank slate.

There is the possibility of drawing ideas from established races, species, and creatures that have already appeared in other books, games or movies, but unless you’re writing in that world (like for fan fiction), creating copy cats, especially without the author’s permission, is pretty much frowned upon and that’s putting it mildly. So! Since that is the case, how can we look at making a new race that fits into your world?

In my standard fashion, I have a tendency to wing things and come up with an idea that’s rough but enough to work with in the beginning and fill in the blanks as necessary when questions arise. My big go-to is avoiding making direct human based creatures. Several of my races are humanoid in build, but are based off of other combinations of creatures (like birds or amorphous things more akin to a mimic or rock / gem based creatures). I’m still fleshing out the ones that don’t even look remotely human, like a cephalopod type creature or some hybrid of two things or more. In your story, it’s perfectly okay to make something that we as humans might consider a monster. I’ve got a couple that fit that description in my own works. haha

Now, I will be the first to admit that jumping in without much forethought is probably not the best way to go about this whole process. haha Since that is the case, I did a bit more reading up on the topic and found a couple general rules or guidelines you could follow to help smooth things out and give you a better framework to pull from.

Having read over three different websites that discuss the same topic, the main points that your race or species should follow are:

Occur naturally (or unnaturally) for a reason

Have common traits within the species

Fill a niche in the fantasy world

In my science fiction setting, I have more room to play with them since my races / species can exist separately on different planets, but they do coexist with common Terrans. Sometimes. Not always. haha

Now, in constructing your race, like any established species already, there’s a checklist of points that should be considered to fully flesh them out.

Creating New Races in Fantasy Fiction – the writer actually goes through a quick race creation activity if you’d like to see how they did it. ^_^

How to Create a Fantasy or Sci-fi Race from Scratch – this one does better about asking specific questions.

Fantasy World Building Template: Creating Fantasy Races – and this one has another broad set of similar but different questions to consider

  1. History
  2. Religion
  3. Society structures of hierarchies
  4. Common attitudes
  5. Language
  6. Opinions about other races
  7. Laws or rules
  8. Culture
  1. Appearance
  2. Diet
  3. History
  4. Homeland
  5. Hierarchy
  6. Weaponry (if applicable)
  7. Religion
  8. Language
  1. Basics (Appearance, Language)
  2. Environment
  3. Culture (includes History and Hierarchy)
  4. Religion
  5. World

As you can see, there are quite a few crossovers, and eight points each as well for the first two at least! The magic number? Maybe not exactly, but with all three combined, they definitely bring up lots of valid points for creating a whole and complete race. I haven’t figured out half of this stuff yet for all of my races in my current WIP. I’ve got language (though that’s a bit of a cheat with the universal translators XD) and I’ve definitely got appearance. I’ve sort of established my opinions about other races thus far and I’ve begun to flesh out the culture and hierarchies. As for the rest… I’ve got my work cut out for me. No surprise there. Fortunately though, you don’t have to know everything immediately. If you do, great! That’s less work for you later, especially when it comes to rewrites, edits, and filling in plot holes… Oof.

So… given what we have here, let’s see if we can’t create a template to better help us sort out what our races are and what information we need versus what we might already have.

Huzzah! Not a bad place to start if you want to make a new race or two. If you have any questions or suggestions about any of the categories, please feel free to drop a line in the comments. Also, if you’d like a copy of the template yourself, you can find downloadable Word and PDF files below. Maybe next week I can update you all on my own use of this template for the races I currently have. lol

In addition, if you need or want examples of science fiction in action, I’d encourage you to check out things like:

  • Star Trek (any of them)
  • Star Wars
  • Mass Effect (video game series)
  • Lexx (TV series that’s… interesting haha)
  • Farscape (TV series)
  • Doctor Who (TV series)
  • Stargate (any of them)
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (book and movie)
  • Stellaris (video game)

It’s also relatively acceptable to set fantasy creatures in science fiction settings and make them a legitimate part of your world. Just… put your own spin on them if you do. Also, if you have any other suggestions to add to the list, feel free to let me know in the comments too! I’ll update it accordingly. ^_^

As always, thank you so much for reading and I hope you have a lovely rest of your day!

**Header image pulled from:

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