Bestiary

We’ve had a bit of a break over the holiday period however now we are back and continuing our lessons in world building. Today we will be looking at how to construct a bestiary now a bestiary for those who don’t know is a sort of encyclopaedia of animals and mythological beasts.

First of all you need animals and mythical creatures in order to make up your bestiary. A good place to start is with animals which are already around today, these can be regular ones like wolf or a horse or you might want to search for strange animals like the hummingbird moth or the basket star.


You can make these animals sound unique by either changing their names according to the languages you have constructed or by changing some aspect of them for example changing their colour, size, or by adding something they don’t typically have like antlers or wings.


You might also like to look at extinct and prehistoric animals for inspiration leaving them as is or making similar changes to those above.


Searching through mythology from various places around the world is also a great place to get ideas and once again depending on your preference you can keep them as is or take aspects of them and apply them to other animals.


Lastly you may just wish to make up your own animals and mythological beasts by picking and choosing aspects of animals you’ve discovered in your research.

Now that you have your animals and your myths you will want to catalogue them. Personally I do this alphabetically in a small notebook. In this notebook I will do several things. Firstly I will describe the animal in terms of its physicality for example.

A four legged, hoofed animal with a lean body, short snout, with eyes on either side of its head, and both the males and females have antlers.

Then I will clarify its habitat and whether or not it’s a herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore, I will also often include a short description of its behaviour for example.

Found mainly in wooded areas it is herbivorous feeding mainly on ferns and berries. It is a cautious in nature often fleeing upon approach. They reside in large herds led by a solitary male and the young leave to form their own herd upon reaching sexual maturity.

Another thing I will do is make a little diagram picturing the animal next to a person, now it doesn’t matter if you are not good at drawing animals as you can see by the picture below I simply use a basic silhouette to represent the animal. I suggest doing this step as it will help you remember the scale of the animal when it comes to writing.


Lastly I will make a note of where in my world these animals are found or in the case of myths where they originate from. If there are several different graphical regions in your world or separate land masses you will want to feature different animals in each as this is more realistic, however keep in mind that some animals can cross regions and large bodies of water so factor that in when establishing your animal’s scope. It is important to note that the location of certain animals will have an impact on the peoples and cultures found in those areas as just like in our own world animals effect how we live especially in rural areas.

You can make your bestiary as detailed and as large as you want just let your imagination run wild.

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