So we are back with the World Building Series again. Last week I covered Flora (plants) and this week, it’s Fauna (animals).
I even included a little special bonus at the end of this article. 🙂
If you are building a world, the chances are you are going to want animals. Even ice planets can have species (think Tauntauns from Hoth).
Fauna in your World
Now let’s fling in some animals!
As I’ve said before, world building is about laying the scene, the stage from which to tell your story and that stage needs colour and texture and dimension.
Again, like with Flora, we aren’t wanting you to mention and describe every animal species on your world. Unlike Flora, the Fauna can be mentioned without the need for the reader to see them. They don’t have to be integral to the plot or be used even to describe a current scene.
What I mean by that, is your character could be trapped in some lonely country house, never able to leave the village.
Maybe they yearn for some adventure, to see the world. Maybe they want to travel to some exotic land and watch the vast migration of ten foot Hortnaglars as they trundle through the endless desert every winter… something that character has only read about and can barely imagine.
See? We might never see the proud yet smell Hortnaglars with their scaly hides and excessive amount of horns and tusks. But we can touch upon them through this character’s imaginings, through their deep desire to escape their limited world.
Types of Animals
If we take our planet as a guide, animals are broken down into groups.
First we have vertebrates and invertebrates
- Vertebrates – animals that have backbones
- Invertebrates – animals lacking a backbone
Vertebrates are then broken down into :
Each of these with their own characteristics that goes along (mostly) with these categories, whether that is producing live young that suckle, laying eggs, being cold blooded, living in a certain habitat, having a certain ability etc
Invertebrates are also broken down into:
- Protozoa – single celled organisms (e.g. amoeba)
- Flatworms – (e.g. tape worm)
- Annelid worms – (e.g. earthworm)
- Echinoderms – (e.g. starfish)
- eterates – (e.g. jellyfish)
- Molluscs – (e.g. snails)
- Arachnids (e.g. spider)
- Crustaceans (e.g. lobster)
- Insects (e.g. fly)
- Myriapods (e.g. centipede)
Unless your world is very limited, you should consider populating it with lots of different types of animals.
Things To Think About When Creating Fauna
Give your animal species a name. You can use a common name or a scientific name or both. Maybe different people on your planet will have different names for the same creature?
You need to have an idea of how the animal looks.
- Is it large, overshadowing everything?
- Maybe some tiny vole like creature?
- Does it have fur, or scales or wings?
- Maybe a mix of several?
- Maybe something different like a mane of smoke! Teeth, tusks, fangs, gills, huge ears, no ears, no ears, 12 eyes, what colour, what size?
- Does it move fast? Slow?
- Does it not move at all, like some weird plant/animal hybrid?
If you want help to describe your animal in real depth, think of one of Earth’s animals. Then describe it. Break it down into categories such as eyes, ears, teeth, feet, muscle structure, tail, skin, movement, markings etc.
☆ Life Stages
This is often more noticed in insects when you have the egg, then the larvae then the pupa, then the insect (think butterflies and moths).
Does this stage need to be described to show the different types of stages the creature goes through? (again, think Alien with the egg, the face-hugger, the chest exploder and the drooling, snarling Xenomorph… did I ever mention I am a HR Giger fan!)
☆ Food source
Thinking about food for your animals isn’t just what it eats, (yes that’s included) but there’s more to think about than just that.
- What does it eat?
- Other animals?
- Rotting carcasses?
- Nothing, does it only drink?
- How does it eat?
- Does it kill it’s prey, does it trap it’s prey?
- Does it store it?
- Does it starve itself throughout certain months?
- Does it change food sources depending on location or condition?
How an animal looks, feeds and survives can be depending on their habitat so take some time to consider this.
- Where are these animals found?
- Are they designed to suit the deserts, the tundras, the forests?
- Do they do better in the bogs and marshes?
- Are the scavengers to hunt through cities and towns for food thrown out?
- Do they stay near water sources and move when those areas dry up?
- How are these designed to survive in their areas?
☆ Wild or domesticated
On our planet, we have animals that are wild from the smaller wild animals for example foxes and rabbits to the larger like bears and wolves and lions.
We have animals that are domesticated like dogs and cats, that at the beginning served a specific purpose – to protect our camps or to dispose of vermin but that have now become more companions to us.
We have animals like cattle that are not wild but certainly not pets to most people. There are the insects and mollusc that we most likely don’t even think about unless we are annoyed by them.
There are animals for food, like we have cows and chickens. What about for hunting, as people do with foxes or deer. What about animals used to hunt other animals?
Like dogs that chase the fox or ferrets that kill rats. Any animals for entertainment? Circuses, baiting rings, training creatures that perform, or maybe just some beautiful bird that recites poetry as taught.
Do you have working animals, like we use horses or dogs? or ones to merely watch, as we do with fish in an aquarium?
Study animals, we have a beautiful array of incredible, stunning and often deadly species and don’t forget extinct animals.
Creatures that are no longer around and I don’t just mean like dinosaurs, but ones humans drove to extinction. These can all give you new ideas and inspire your own animal creations.
This can be taken more than one way. Is this animal a threat to your characters? Can it maul a person or destroy their crops? Can it cause infection or spread disease? Is venomous if it bites or stings Or poisonous if touched?
Maybe it’s the threat against them. What is the threat to your newly created Hortnaglar? Could it be some huge, taloned cat that hunts its young?
Or maybe some tiny biting insect that carries a pathogen that is deadly to these lumbering creatures? Is it themselves? Their own instinct drive to cross the desert, how many of their numbers die through this trek?
What type of world do you have?
When thinking of your animals, consider your world. Is it a mostly watery place? Are you going to have some water-based people who instead of riding horses might ride whales or dolphins? Or maybe they prefer sharks?
Do your people live in some floating city? Then maybe they don’t deal with the “dirty, earth-dwelling creatures” but instead prefer the beauty and companionship of exotic birds that mimic? Or huge flying creatures that guard their city walls?
Maybe you have slippery firesnakes that live along the edges of a volcano, their bodies adapted to deal with the heat and the smoke, whereas the cooler land away from the volcano and the clear air may be deadly to them,
Tailor your species to your world, consider what you are putting into it and why.
Just like my Flora one, I have made a Free Editable Template: Fauna Template
More articles on my World Builder Series.
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Hope you enjoyed this delve into Word Building and I will have another World Building one in a few weeks.