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Faeries, Elves, Orcs, how they would play a role. What are they like.


New Member
I've read numerous stories containing such creatures from childhood faerie tales to best sellers ie Lord of the Rings. Each one describes them in different ways, is any one the right way? My story does consist of mainly humans, elves, dwarves, dragons, and orcs. Goblins I'm not sure of, and their are so many creatures to chose from. To stay consistent with the story, I thought picking just a few would be beneficial to my writing process. Can the norms be broken when writing about such creatures, such as an elf working in the mine, or a dwarve who prefers to sleep amongst the trees rather than a place in the mines.


You can write whatever you like. Give dwarves wings for all it matters.
There is no one way to write a certain fantasy race. You can go with the common way they're written (perfect magical elves, gruff bearded dwarves etc) or put your own twist on it, or create your own creatures.
Nobody is going to read your variation of a dwarf and say "Hey, this isn't how the LOTR dwarves are. This is bad."

Bruce McKnight

Sure, people are going to look to Tolkien stereotypes at first, but you can add whatever depth or changes you like, as long as they make sense and are consistent. If you give your dwarves wings, they probably wouldn't spend all their time in mountain caves. Give them gills if you want, too, but then they probably shouldn't spend all their time in the woods.

Play off the tropes if you like. Maybe elves don't spend all their time in the woods, maybe they're just invisible outside the woods.

You can embrace the tropes if you want, too. Make every dwarf a hard-drinking, ill-tempered runt that speaks a vaguely Irish version of English.

The key is consistency.


There is no right or set way to describe a fairy or orc. There's classic ways and known ways, like what we read in fairy tales and such. But all these creatures are really yours to make.

Like centaurs, classic mythology describes them as having the head and upper body of a man on the body of a horse. That's the classic description. As a writer with your own views and story you can alter it in a way to fit what you see in your imagination. If the man's body is furry, describe it as furry. If their face is flat with big nostrils, say so. It's your original story with your natural voice with your view and feelings about these fantastic beings. Describe them how you want to, not how the readers want. If they don't like it, for whatever reason, it's their own fault.


You can embrace the tropes if you want, too. Make every dwarf a hard-drinking, ill-tempered runt that speaks a vaguely Irish version of English.

The key is consistency.

I would say that consistency applies to the general appearance of dwarves, elves, and other races. If you think about it, there are so many variations of humans: tall, short, dark-skinned, freckled, etc. Thus, what’s stopping some of your dwarves from having red beards and others from having brown ones? While there should be some defining features of your fantasy race, I think variation between each individual should be present too.

I agree that dwarves as well as other races will have their sets of traditions and beliefs, but I’m not sure about portraying every dwarf as ill-tempered (unless you want to thoroughly pursue the trope). Doesn’t personality vary too?


I don't think there should be any norms when it comes to what you want to write, as far as races go. I tend to follow 'traditional' racial lines for those you mentioned, but my characters are individuals, just as real people are in the real world. So if you want an Elf in a mine or a Dwarf in a tree, I'd say write it. Many of the races were not so defined until the last 100 years or so. If you read old faerie tales about Elves, Dwarves and Goblins, you'll find that many of them were interchangeable. I think Tolkien was more-or-less the first to set the common standards used today in many books, and then RPGs such as AD&D made it even more standard.


A book with dwarves that have wings and gills. I would love to read that. But it is true, fantasy creatures like dwarves and elves have come to have a certain stereotype, but that is just because a lot of people write them like that. You can take them and change them however you see fit. Just read Airtimis Fowl and you can se how much they can be changed. Doesn't make any one version right or wrong, these are all made up beings so you would just be putting your own spin on it.

Captain Loye

I agree that you can do whatever you want with the 'classical' races, but I think if you're going to change them too much you might be better off renaming them entirely. Like it or not, when you say 'dwarf', people get a certain expectation. If your dwarf is winged and hairless, that's fine, but is it a 'dwarf' then? I guess you have to balance on that line between avoiding being overly cliche with confusing your readers. Yes, dwarf comes from German roots and means 'small human', but if you ask the public what a dwarf is, you'll probably get very similar responses - short, bearded, Scottish alcoholics.

My opinion is the more ingrained certain images are in popular media, the harder it will be for you to break through that stereotype. Elves, dwarves and dragons, for example, will be hard to redefine as they are so common and carry a certain meaning. The less common the race/monster/whatever is, the better chance I think you have of redefining it.

So make your races unique and interesting, but I would caution using a well-trodden name if it doesn't quite fit.


Elves and faeries are usually more vague and can be changed quite a lot. Dreamy elves, evil elves, warlike, peaceful, mischievous or just strange elves can work. Dwarves are harder because their image is more solidly defined; They're short, they have beards, they use axes, they mine or live in mountains, they drink and they are rough and short-tempered.
You can change one or two of those traits (Guillermo Gonzales made them more like Highland Clans; http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-N9atxIf4bDA/TgTKzbI3sUI/AAAAAAAAAmE/CVmIQBb4zWU/s1600/35141-1.jpg) but not much more.
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By all means! Break the rules! Know that the rules exist and break them anyway! It's glorious! I mean, how boring would it be if every dwarf ever written was a rough and tumble miner? It'd be super boring! Mix things up, and you'll keep things fresh and interesting.

That said... just because it's different doesn't mean it's good. One only needs to take a quick glance at Twilight to know that. But you know... Twilight isn't bad because the vampires sparkle. Twilight is bad because the vampires aren't threatening. The fact that they sparkle undermines how threatening they're supposed to be. Which is funny, because Twilight Vampires are actually technically a lot more powerful than your average vampire in fiction. But that's a whole nother discussion. ...Point is, different isn't always good.

That said, I think it's far better to make something that's different and have it fail than to make something that's so generic that nobody remembers it.

....Also, even if you make a world where the elves and dwarves and orcs have a culture similar to the ones in LotR, I think it would be extremely interesting to see a story about a member of a species that doesn't fit in to their society. Everybody loves an underdog after all.

And that's my humble opinion.

Yurinii Gallon

New Member
Try creating a new race if you like.

As a reference if you want to stick to the norm, there are three types of orcs. The boar type, hairy orcs with a head of a wild boar for male, pink and less hairy with a head of a pig for females, they live in forests. The green orcs, brave warriors who only knows how to eat, fight and reproduce. And third the undead orcs of LotR.