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Questions for developing magical creatures

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I have spent several months agonizing over the evil creatures in my current wip.  I knew their backstory, what they wanted, and that they looked like the Lord of the Rings movies' Nazgul, but I didn't know where they came from, whether they could speak, if they were alive, etc.  I'm always happier just writing, and inventing things as I go, but these evil creatures were turning into a mess of attributes.  So I kept searching for a list of questions to help me develop them further, to really figure out a consistent understanding of their powers and limitations.  And while there seem to be tons of lists out there for creating magical worlds, I couldn't find anything on creating magical creatures.  So finally I made my own.  And *surprise!* it's been enormously helpful.

So in case anyone else is struggling with the same thing, I figured I'd share.  The list is very much directed towards my wip's specific needs, but hopefully it will give anyone else out there struggling a start.

And now, because he IS a creature, and I can't not use him:  :cookiemonster

Happy writing!

Where do they live?

Daily life
What do they do?
What do they see?
What do they know?  Of present day world?  Of spirit world?
Can they plan?
Can they see?
Can they hear?

Previous life
What do they remember?
Can they forget?
If not originally here, where did they come from?
How did they get here?

What are they capable of?
What are they not capable of?
What gives them their power?
Can they interact with the world?
Can they travel?

Can everyone see them?  Why or why not?
What do they look like?

Are they alive?
Do they breathe?
Do they need to eat?
Are they or their way of life in any danger?
Will their situation change?
Are they plural or singular?
How do they move?  Can they fly?

What do they fear?
What do they want?
Do they feel emotion?
Can their opinions change?
Do they agree with each other?
Do they have a leader?

#1 - June 21, 2009, 01:46 AM


Thank you for this list.  I have imaginary beings in my story, although they are not evil, not yet anyway.  I appreciate you sharing your insight. :smile
#2 - June 22, 2009, 09:09 AM

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Thanks for sharing!

God Bless,
#3 - June 22, 2009, 09:26 AM
Susan York Meyers, Children's and YA Author


Thanks for sharing your list. I have two different species of fantastical creatures in my WIP, and yeah, they could probably stand to have a little more backstory.
#4 - June 23, 2009, 10:38 AM


Awesome list. Thanks for sharing, annemleone. This list will come in very handy.  :snoopy
#5 - June 23, 2009, 11:51 AM

No problem, happy it can help other people, too!

#6 - June 23, 2009, 12:05 PM


Thank you so much for putting this up! I'm JUST getting started with a new idea, and all I know so far is that the world is chock-full of creatures. Needless to say, this will help immensely! :yup
#7 - November 18, 2010, 10:25 PM

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Oh, excellent list! I'm going to file it with some of my character building exercises. Thanks, Anne.
#8 - December 24, 2010, 08:03 AM
Katie L. Carroll

Pirate Island - MG adventure
Elixir Bound, Elixir Saved - YA Fantasy

Thanks, everyone! Glad it could be useful!
#9 - January 01, 2011, 04:47 AM


These are great questions! Thanks!  :f_cupcake:
#10 - January 01, 2011, 08:48 AM


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