Kassan Warrad’s latest post at Mythic Scribes seeks to ground fantasy races (orcs, elves, etc.) in real-world evolutionary framework. This is ground I covered in fleshing out the various groups depicted in Into the Wonder—and for the same reasons Kassan suggests. Namely, to achieve a greater level of lifelikeness:
A systematic approach to defining your races will help shape the underpinnings of your world. How are the races related to one another? Do they share a common ancestor? Can they interbreed and produce viable, fertile offspring?
These questions help define your races’ distinct sociopolitical boundaries. The world will feel more authentic, and many readers will appreciate the invested thought.
At the bottom of all of this is the issue of relatability. Do members of these groups have the same sorts of goals, aspirations, and emotions as the readers (who are all, at least in theory, human)?
The question of who counts as human is a theme underlying my third novel, Oak, Ash, and Thorn, which will be coming in February 2016.