I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about supernatural creatures.
There are several ways that a writer can step into using supernatural creatures. You can create your own, something that can be fun but is also very complex, or you can use the great wealth of creatures that are in myths and legends today.
In my research I have learned that every culture has myths and legends about the supernatural. Depending on the location in the world, some are similar. But, regardless, every culture has something that could be classified as a vampire, or a shapeshifter; you name it, it'll be there.
I used a variety of sources to help create my creatures.There were specific traits that I needed, and depending on which direction I decided to go it wasn't hard to find what I needed, but in some cases I needed to spin some details.
For example, my vampires. I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea that all vampires cannot walk in the daylight. So, I wanted to find a way so that a certain 'type' could; and to do that I had to use what I call the 'Dracula model' for vampires. And with me deciding to do that, those vampires I modeled in that form would have other traits that were associated with Dracula. Because the reality is that Dracula could walk in the sunlight; he also had control over nocturnal animals, could shift his form in a variety of ways, including turning into mist, and had control over the weather, among other things. When I used the Dracula model, I had to make sure that all the other traits were taken into consideration, I may not have used them all immediately but because I had decided to follow that model they were at my disposal.
This is what I like to call Creature Creating by Blending Different Myths.
I also had to do this with the dhampir (half human, half vampire), and as I write I continue to build on my idea of this particular creature. Because the details of what would happen throughout these creatures lives would be so complex it just continues do build, and it seems to be a creature type that I will continue to use. The original dhampir myth has them generally being male - not in my world.
I've done things like this in a number of cases, this is the fun part of supernatural fiction. If you take something traditional as the jumping off point and use your imagination it can guide you in amazing directions.
I needed to use the model of a skinwalker and place them in my own location. Now, if you read into skinwalkers you know this is a myth associated with Native Canadian and American cultures, but it seemed strange to me that similar creatures would not exist all over the world. So I took that original idea and spun it, creating a similar myth for my chosen location and giving the skinwalker a little extra power to make it my own.
Once you grown accustomed to doing such things, they seem to come naturally. And now as I'm writing and trying to build the lives of some of the other characters these threads are appearing before me, and in some cases its tying a real historical person to a supernatural myth, and a story appearing fully formed in front of me.
I would suggest, if you're going to do this, that you have some kind of folder or place to put all the information that you have used and thought up to create these characters because it'll be hard to keep it all in your head. I've heard straight fantasy author's refer to this as 'world building', and some have extensive binders with maps and all kinds other bits and pieces that they used to build their world - but character creation should be its own sub section. Some people use questionnaires and other charts to create their characters, what I can say is do whatever comes naturally, and if you're handwriting something do it in pencil.