New races in fantasy books aren’t hard to find. It seems with every new series, there are new monsters or races included. Even I’ve done it with my high fantasy series, The Chronicles of Jaydür. Why? Because creating a whole world is not complete without creating new races to be a part of that world. You don’t want to be stuck using fantasy cliches. At least, not done the same way they have been done already.
The great thing about fantasy is that there are no real limitations. Whether your main character is a granite-laden gargoyle or a green-skinned elephant unicorn, anything is possible in the genre. One of my favorite things to do, though, is play with what your average fantasy reader already knows.
Take pixies, for example.
Some know them as the troublesome pests in some old Celtic myths. Others know them as just being another type of faerie. But who knows them as the dark, hairless, carnivorous creatures who are taken over by blood-lust at the scent of it? No one! Because they’re not commonly done that way–if ever done that way. But in my world of Jaydür, this is what they are. I’ve taken a perfectly recognized creature and twisted it this way and that until I had something familiar enough, but different enough to stand out.See
The killer pixies of Jaydür are now pretty well-known among my reader-base, and the focus of my most popular scene in Nahtaia: A Jaydürian Adventure.
See? It is totally possible to take something old and recognized and make it new and exhilarating for your readers!
We’ve seen it done to other familiar fantasy creatures like trolls in Shannara, or on a more extreme level, the oliphaunts in The Lord of the Rings. Seriously, how many people stop to think, “Well, gee golly. I’m going to take a random animal like an elephant and make it six times the size and throw it into war scenes. Why? Because, why the heck not? Elephants, man!” And it worked! In The Return of the King, at the battle of the Pelennor Fields, the oliphaunts were a huge deal and by far one of the most memorable scenes among movie-watchers.
Come on. You saw Legolas take that thing down by himself. It was impressive. Don’t even pretend it wasn’t.
Another way to use fantasy cliche’s in writing is what Stephenie Meyer did with vampires in Twilight. Sure, it’s not the most popular example–I know there are a few readers still irked by the whole sparkling vampire thing–but the fact is that Meyer found major success through playing with common tropes of vampires and werewolves.
Writers need to stop listening to all the “rules” thrown out into the interwebs. There is always something that one person finds annoying while another adores it!
This also opens the doors of opportunity to new readers who are trying to read fantasy for the first time in their lives. They’re the readers who don’t want their book to be saturated in new creatures and unknown concepts that a well-seasoned fantasy reader may be looking for.
Anything that’s been done before can be done again, differently, and find success. And there are still things that haven’t been done in the first place! The human mind holds insane power of imagination and we would be crazy not to use it!
So whether you’re thinking of writing the next serial killing unicorn, or sweet and cuddly zombie panda, just go for it. See what you can come up with. Let your mind play!
More about L.F. Oake:
L.F Oake (AKA Lilian Oake) is an international bestselling author of teen and adult fantasy. She is best known for Nahtaia: A Jaydürian Adventure, which boasts a whopping 3.7 million online hits. Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, she moved to North Carolina where she writes full time and is hard at work on her next book. When she is not writing, she is educating her horde of goblins in the ways of Middle Earth and Narnia with the help of her husband.
Her newest release is The Lost Voice, the first book in The Chronicles of Jaydür.