It probably isn’t any surprise that since we are all human (though there are some who claim otherwise despite the evidence they are), our characters are virtually all human. Even our aliens aren’t so alien and often come off as almost human. The question on my mind is if we, as humans, can write truly alien characters and hold the reader’s interest. I think it can be done because on occasion writers get this one right and create a truly alien character who isn’t all that human.
Without proper research I prefer to confine my comments to the concept rather than give specifics. I know there are some good examples both directions, but it would be too easy to get blogged down by examples and not get anywhere. My mind is churning with examples I could draw on, more that this blog could contain.
So how can we writers make our aliens more alien? First we have to identify what makes us human and attempt to counter that with the opposite of what we associate with being human. Typically we draw on other human cultures, from other places or times, to create our alien cultures. That is still is human. We need to go deeper to get really alien and not just foreign.
There are some values that we humans have. Aliens might value something different. Not necessarily things we would find evil, but just different. As I am still digging into this question myself, I do not have the answers as to how to do this. I am looking and thinking on it. It is vital to one of my story ideas so it is something I will revisit again when I have my own answers. Until then, I challenge you to turn your own mind to this question and see what you come up with. How alien can you make a character? And physical form doesn’t count.
Scott Seldon lives with his family in Colorado and works as an IT administrator. Visit his website (sites.google.com/site/scottrseldon/) for the latest updates and to find where his books are sold.
This post was originally written for Week 3 of the Master Koda blog tour, but the host as since deleted the post. It is reproduced here for archive purposes.
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