marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Is this elf necessary?

A good question for writers.  I distilled it myself when I was too much under the influence of J.R.R. Tolkien, and rapidly found that it turned my fantasy stories into human-only affairs.

I wish some fantasy writers asked it more often.  I read one too many book in which there are inexplicable human beings with pointy ears roaming about.  And not even humans from a very distinct culture.  Very little reading about in primary source material would turn up human beings who would look exotic next to the elf -- or the humans he associates with.  Try distinguishing people by some cultural differences.

It applies to other imaginary races, too.  I still remember the story I critiqued where the main character was a centaur.  I found this out two pages in.  Every now and again, the story would say, "She's a centaur" -- and never would it have the least effect on anyone's reactions, or on anything she did.
Tags: characterization, rants, world-building: non-human characters

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