{DISCUSSION} Creature Creation

Note: It’s supernatural month! All discussions this month will be about supernatural creatures or worlds!

Why aren’t there new supernatural creatures?

Vampires. Werewolves. Witches. Zombies. These are the most common supernatural creatures with a few fairies, mermaids, sprites, and other creatures thrown in, but all of them have one thing in common: they’re classics. They have been around for at least a century and will continue to be around for many more centuries to come.

Over the past few weeks we discussed the inconsistencies that go along with zombies, the redundance of vampires, the constant adaptations to witches, and the improper usage of werewolves. Everyone knows these four even with their excessive variations, but at what point do these become boring? At what point do we run out of changes? At what point do we, as readers, go: ‘Enough! We need something else!’?

Comfort Zone

Naturally we run back to the traditional supernatural creatures because they’re well-known, they’re common, and they’re easy to identify. We know what we like. We know what to expect. Most importantly, we have already developed our viewpoints on each of these creatures and have picked sides. It’s only human nature to stick to what we know and to fear the new, the strange, the abnormal. (Ask Dr. Frankenstein about that one. >.>) Yet, even as creatures of habit, don’t we eventually become bored with routine? (They don’t call it a mid-life crisis for nothin’.)

Originality

No doubt one of the hardest part (for writers) with creature creation is originality. After all, the common supernatural creatures aren’t the only ones out there. Creatures exist in all societies and cultures. There are already creatures from Greek mythology, Mexican mythology, Norse mythology, Egyptian mythology, etc, etc. And while these are alternatives to the common creatures, they have defined outlines. If you use them, you need to use them correctly and adaptations aren’t very well accepted. Additionally, readers assume the story takes place in one of those particular societies when you use a creature from that society.

This leaves the writer with the hefty task of coming up with a brand new, completely original (or hopefully different enough) creature. This is a daunting task. After all, writers are already busy with creating plot lines, worlds, characters, tensions, resolutions, and goodness knows what else. Adding brand new creatures in some times is just one task too many and they default to pre-designed creatures. It’s also any easy way to draw in readers because using a well-known creature means you have a pre-existing pool of readers who will at least glance at your book.

Benefits

Yet, I think as writers, it’s our job to offer readers new and exciting creatures. I mean, we already offer them worlds and characters. It’s our job to give them new stories to explore. We have to constantly come up with new ideas and make sure they’re different enough from other stories and characters, but why do we take the easy way out when it comes to creatures? Don’t we want to creature a creature that people rave about and draw fanart about? Don’t we want something that becomes a staple in the world of supernatural creatures? I know I do!

Not to mention, by creating a new supernatural creature, we’re offering more options for other writers, too. Though, this can be tricky. Many new creatures are often copyrighted as part of the series or integrated thoroughly into a world and maybe this is why new creatures haven’t arisen. Maybe this is why we default back to the common supernatural creatures: because no one has ‘claimed’ them. (Maybe I need to start making supernatural creatures for other writers to use. I want to make this creature creation a trend! ^.^)

But maybe I’m one-minded. Maybe I’m not seeing all the angles of character creation, whether that’s the benefits or the difficulties or the consequences. Let me know! I want to hear from readers and writers alike. What are your thoughts on having new supernatural creatures across multiple book/movie series?

Let me know in the comments below what you think about creature creation. I want to hear all about it! ^.^


And check out my discussion from last week:
Stop ruining my werewolves!

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11 thoughts on “{DISCUSSION} Creature Creation

  1. I really like browsing the mythologies of different cultures to see what creatures different peoples have imagined. One of the more interesting ones I read about was a version of an elf or wood spirit (can’t recall which), where the front appeared normal, but it was actually a hollow shell, a thin layer of wood that was shaped to look like a humanoid from the front, but did not have a matching back half. The article didn’t go into their habits or powers, but the image of a living creature that seemed to be an illusion, and might use its skin deep nature to hide, seemed both tragic and evocative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Huh. I feel like that idea is only half -established. They would always need to be facing their target to keep up the illusion and I can’t imagine how effective this would be whether for good or evil. :/ Maybe that’s why there are so few popular supernatural creatures. Maybe there needs to be the right mix of elements to make them appealing to readers.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I think the challenge is in realizing how their physical characteristics and nature would change how they think. For example, in Last Unicorn, the protagonist admits that she has not seen another of her kind for hundreds of years, but because they are immortal, she knows they are out there, and knows there will always be time to go see them, if she wishes.
            This is in stark contrast with humans, who have a finite lifespan, and feel an urgent need to see people and have experiences while we can.
            I think the really interesting creatures are the ones who demonstrate how their difference informs how they interact. I think Jim Butcher did a good job of this in Codex Alera with the Canim, both in their language, and their social interaction.

            Liked by 2 people

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