So you’ve decided to write a fantasy or sci-fi novel set in a strange land with strange wildlife. Sounds fun!
Unfortunately, it isn’t just all sunshine and rainbows. The world you’ve created needs to operate like a realistic world. It needs to live and breathe like a real world would.
Because your readers and your story need it to be. It can be very jarring to read a book where the basic world it’s set in doesn’t make sense. Having a basic understanding of your world’s flora and fauna will at least ground the setting in reality and boost the realism factor way up (which is always a good thing).
Here are a few things to keep in mind whenever you’re working on this particular part of worldbuilding.
Realistic or Bizarre
You need to decide whether you’re going to make the flora and fauna realistic (i.e. closer to that of earth) or bizarre (i.e. completely out of this world). You won’t necessary go 100% into one direction or the other, but you’ll likely end up having more of one than the other.
Both are good and have their place in either genre really, but I’ve found that most sci-fi uses the bizarre while most fantasy uses the realistic.
With sci-fi you’ll have people in totally alien worlds experiencing things that are completely different to the way we’re used to.
In fantasy you’ll have things that, while quite fantastical, are fairly close to what we are used to.
You can of course switch these around or use a blend of the two, but you need to know the limits you’re working with before you even begin making any decisions.
When you are making up the flora and fauna of your world, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind when doing so. Changing any one of these factors might change the way your creature or plant works.
Environment: Where does it live? In dark caves? In the rainforest? Does it prefer high altitudes or scorching heat?
Climate: Does it thrive in mostly cold, and rainy places, or is it a sucker for hot, arid places? Icy tundra, or humid swamp? Can it handle a lot of rainfall or not?
Topography: Does it like living in a rocky canyon, or in the open fields? Does it need regular shade from nearby forests and mountains, or is it just fine living on sand dunes in the desert?
Food Chain: Is it prey or predator? Does it hunt? If so, is there enough of its prey around to sustain it? If it grazes on plants, is it in an environment where it can find food? If it can be hunted, what does it do to survive? Basically, how is it adapted to feed itself in the environment and how does it avoid being killed by others? And yes, this is applicable to plants too.
Procreation: How does it create more of itself? Does it reproduce very quickly or very slowly? Can it reproduce more than once? What mating rituals does it have? What needs to happen before it can reproduce?
Now these are all simple things, but they’re also somehow overlooked when a lot of people create their own animals/plants. By all means, go ahead and think up the most random, interesting, and cool things you can. But at least make sure that the creature makes sense in the world you’ve created.
What Do You Keep In Mind When Worldbuilding Flora And Fauna?
Let Me Know In The Comments Below!
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