Yeah Write!: Race Building Guide & Resources


carbonandpixiedust asked: 

Hey there :) I was wondering if you could make a post about culture/race building? Or maybe you already have one and I missed it. Questionnaires, tips, tricks, etc? Thanks!

This is outside of my expertise since I don’t usually write fantasy, but I did some research and came up with some resources for you!

The following attributes differentiate races from one another:

  • Anatomy
  • Culture
  • Ethnicity
  • Genetics
  • Geographical location
  • History
  • Language
  • Religion
  • Social affiliation

I would definitely write and/or draw concepts of all of those attributes. Writing programs like Scrivener or Yarny have mechanisms to allow you to store all such notes; other writers, like JK Rowling, prefer keeping loose leaf planning sheets in a folder; I have a dream of having a writing office with lots of cork boards!

Here are some other links that define race (which I think will help you think about which attributes you may want to describe/define), give examples of fantasy races we’ve come across in popular literature and how their authors built them, and a few links to other online resources and templates about race building:

Definitions of race:

Definition of Race (Human Classification)

Historical Race Concepts

Racialism (Racial Categorization)

Races in popular literature:

List of Greek Mythological Creatures (A lot of the fantastical races we’re used to reading—dwarves, elves, etc.—are based on Greek mytholigical creatures, so this list may provide some inspiration)

Fantasy Tropes & Conventions: Race

Lists of Fiction Species

List of Fictional Humanoid Species in Literature

Five Fantasy Race Tropes (If you want to avoid them)

Transcript of an Interview with J. R. R. Tolkien About Race/World Building

20 Great Essays About Race (from our buds at The Electric Typewriter)

Links to other race-building how-tos:

How to Deconstruct Fantasy Tropes for Your Own Benefit

Creating New Races in Fantasy Fiction

Template for Creating and Building a New Fantasy Race for your Fictional World

Creating Fantasy & Science Fiction Worlds: Anthropology (This is one chapter in a much longer, very thorough article on fantasy world building)

Hope these are of some benefit!


If anyone has any tips, tricks, or links that they think should be added to this post, send an ask!

This article will be added to our Advice page, under the headings CHARACTERIZATION and RESEARCH.

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