Let’s Make: A Fantasy Beast

Holy shit am I cheating right now.

If there’s one thing that all of my manuscripts have, but almost never actually benefit from, it’s a list of beasts. “Beasts” in this case meaning “animals.”

Why not just call them animals? Cause Bloodborne ruined me. Whatever.

My point is, all of my worlds come with long lists of native creatures that are different from monsters. Because it always feel important to distinguish between the animals that always existed in your fantasy world, and the hellspawn (or what have you) created by your big bad.

How does this mean I’m cheating? Well, as H&T revs up, I’m continuing to worldbuild for it, getting down into “probably won’t affect the plot” territory. Which means making up a new list of beasts that won’t appear anywhere in the novel.

Come on–let’s do it.

Step 1 – Choose a Niche

I make a lot of land beasts, a moderate amount of flying creatures, and almost no aquatic animals (cause, personally, I’m terrified of deep water–like, phobia terrified). I’ll try to work on that balance, I swear.

But, for today, we’re doing a land beast. Because, if for no other reason, they’re the most accessible to the average cast of fantasy characters–the most likely to be encountered while traveling.

Step 2 – Choose a Behavior Model

Scavenger, predator, prey? Solitary or pack mentality? Aggressive or skittish? Territorial or migratory?

I already had it in mind that I wanted pack scavengers. Migratory seems like a good fit, but I also want them to be aggressive in packs. [Edit: I wound up switching to ‘territorial’ when I was done creating these things.]

Basically, they’re already assholes. This is going well.

Step 3 – Choose a Body Type

I’m feeling canine. Or, rather, I’m feeling that fur on a quadruped is the right call for this scavenger.

Step 4 – Add the Fantasy

We’re not just making dogs. We have to change it up–make it weird.

My reflex is to give these things long, dexterous arms, but if I’m not careful, they’ll dip into creepy hellspawn/whatever monster territory.

So, maybe just slightly longer front legs. Sharp claws on small hands with distinct fingers. Generally thin bodies with patches of grey fur.

Man . . . These things are just turning out creepy anyway. Again, I blame Bloodborne. But eh. Maybe they’re just lil creepers.

Oh . . . Goddammit. I just had an idea I like, but . . . I mean, it’s so creepy. Ugh. Whatever.

They have no eyes. Not in a gruesome way; there aren’t empty eye sockets or anything–they just don’t have eyes, period. Their skulls are flat bone where their eyes would be. I have no idea why, but they must’ve evolved that way. Obviously cave dwellers, fond of much deeper burrows than the average beast. Maybe native to that environment, only coming up to scavenge. [Definitely native to that environment, and territorial in the sense that they’ll take advantage of other creatures falling into their dens–a free meal, helpless in the dark.]

They communicate [and echo-locate] with creepy wails (because let’s just go all in on the creepy angle), bellowed out of beak-shaped mouths full of small, sharp teeth.

Beyond superior hearing, they also have a keen sense of smell and can detect body heat from great distances.

Of no threat on their own, but capable of hunting and killing humans in a pack–particularly lone children.

Step 5 – A Name

“Wastrel” immediately pops into mind. It happened so fast that I need to Google it–find out if it’s already being used for a fantasy creature somewhere.

A quick search says no. Double checking the meaning of “wastrel” reminds me that it’s not a perfect name, but I’m willing to allow it; “waste” combined with an “-rel” ending similar to “mongrel” feels appropriate.

~~~

And, bam–there you have it. A new creature for my current WIP. And one that I’m probably going to use too; Modis is a kid after all, on the run, in the wild.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed hanging out for my monster-making process. If you did, please let me know with a Like; I’m trying to get a feel for the posts people like on this blog, and I realize I can’t do that without asking for feedback.

And, if this is your first time here, I’m Louis Santiago, a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. One of my short stories, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy (which you can find here). However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process. Still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit that Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Regardless, thank you for reading. And, as always, write well.

4 thoughts on “Let’s Make: A Fantasy Beast

  1. Great steps! I’m focused on literary fiction right now but I’ve dappled a bit with fantasy and world/creature building is always fascinating to me. :)

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed!
      Yeah, worldbuilding is absolutely its own brand of fun, easy to get lost in. But it’s also kind of a buffer; an enjoyable thing to do when you can’t work on the story itself. I think that’s why I cling to fantasy, maybe, cause literary fiction–phew. That’s serious stuff; 100% plot and charming prose with no room to make up creepy, blind mammals. I couldn’t do it, so props to you!

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