A fantasy novel should have a fantasy creature, right? No, not always. But depending on your fantasy story, you may want to consider it. When I was writing a fantasy novel, I thought long and hard about what fantasy creatures I should use, if any. There are so many different kinds… and then variations within those types. Do I use a stereotyped fantasy creature or make up my own?
Making up your own fantasy creature when writing a fantasy novel can be fun. It can also be tedious. You have to describe the fantasy creature and its characteristics in full detail in order to give your reader a picture in his head. You have to decide what the fantasy creature’s motivation is, how it relates to your story. And you need to determine what sort of things the fantasy creature can and cannot do.
Even if you use a stereotyped fantasy creature, you still have to decide the details. But the benefit of using a stereotyped fantasy creature is that you already have a basis for what it should look like and how it is likely to act. You may not have to put as much details in its making like you would with a new made-up fantasy creature.
Types of Dragons
So what are the fantasy creature stereotypes? Consider the dragon, for one. He is often portrayed as a vicious fiery beast bent on destruction and/or occasional farm raids of sheep and villagers. You also have the more benign dragons full of wisdom and magic. The most common stereotype of the dragon is that he is guarding something. It could be treasure, it could be his home, or it could be her egg. If you are going to use a dragon in your story and he grazes like a cow, he may not be as believable as would a dragon who fits into the common stereotypes.
Types of Fairies
Another fantasy creature with different stereotypes is the fairy. You have the mischievous wood sprites who like to make trouble, the mystical and magical creatures of the forest, or the magical wish-granting fairies, like the fairy godmother. A fairy is generally small in size and they are creatures of the wood. Some have wings, some don’t. Of course you can make up your own kind of fairy with her own special qualities, but to make her believable, try to use a little bit of the common stereotypes.
Types of Elves
When you think of elves, you either think of the mystic human-like elves like Legolas in Lord of the Rings or you think of Santa’s little helpers. Like fairies, elves are usually creatures of the wood.
Other magical fantasy creatures include unicorns, centaurs, gnomes, banshees, ogres, brownies, goblins, mermaids, pixies, dwarves, trolls, and so much more. To get an idea of what these fantasy creatures are like (their stereotypes), check out “The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythical Creatures” by Dempsey, Collison, and Elvin. Another good book is “The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures” by John & Caitlin Matthews. The Ultimate Encyclopedia has fewer creatures but more information while the Element Encyclopedia has more fantasy creatures but less information. Both of these books can be found on our Guides to Writing a Fantasy Novel Bookstore, hosted by Amazon.com.