I'd like to say something on the use of some 'fantasy staples'. I was gonna post this on another topic but realised as I was writing it was a whole different issue I'd got to.
I guess I've always had a fanscination with Elves and Dwarves (and even more so Orcs), tracking back less to Tolkien (which don't get me wrong I read from a young age) but more from Warhammer and the Warcraft games. I found the more I read of fantasy that writers were trying to steer away from these creatures but in many ways they never really did. In the same way that the creators of DnD and Warhammer embraced Tolkiens ideas and made them something completely their own, some authors are trapped beneath his shadow, trying to do something new.
Take any 'evil race' from a fantasy story, I think trollocs from wheel of time are a great example. For me they've never quite worked. Even though they are described very similarly to beastmen in Warhammer (a race that have a hugely entertaining history). Why can I picture what a beastman camp would be like and not a trolloc camp. Why can I imagine what beastmen would talk about and not trollocs. They are essentially the same thing but in emphasising they are different Jordan's Trollocs have lost the beastmen's appeal.
I think by borrowing the 'high fantasy' terms you inherit a certain amount of backstory that can be valuable to your narrative. Then as you build on those 'principles' you make the races your own. Orcs in Tolkien are very different to orcs in Warhammer, Warcraft and even Warhammer 40k. Any other world with Orcs will hopefully have very different orcs too (or they will be breaking the aforementioned rule). I know mine are so different they could be given a whole different term. But I don't for the reasons I've described, the inherited backstory.
Its the same with humans. We can use humans in our stories because it just makes sense. But theres no reason you have to use humans. In LOTR for example there are only 2 characters in the fellowship who are human and neither are the ring bearing main character. If anyone's fantasy world can use humans then they can also use elves, dwarfs etc.
I ramble, I know, but my point is that I find just using humans takes a lot of fun from fantasy. Creating races from scratch can either take way too long to describe or be cheap rip offs of elves, dwarfs, orcs etc. Sometimes of course its well done, (I hope I will be able to achieve that with a few unique races of my own). So I think that using established terms such as elves and dwarves can quickly give your world some colour, some history and a general feel to it, and by the time you leave your own personal mark on all these races you won't have anything samey about your world at all.