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  1. Ferdinand&Alfonso

    Ferdinand&Alfonso Member

    Aug 14, 2012
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    Non-Human Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ferdinand&Alfonso, Aug 14, 2012.

    So, I'm entering this contest and the theme is diversity. I wasn't going to do it at first, but I hear it looks good on a college application when you win these things so here goes...At first I was ticked because it sounded like a suck-up contest. Like I'm supposed to give all the reasons why diversity is good and we should accept our fellow man and I have to be all virtuous and preachy and...blech...where's the creativity in that? Anyone can agree with the judges. But I'm gonna put my own little spin on things and see where it takes me. Never seemed to fail before.

    I'm a sci-fi fanatic. Why stick to boring old humans with their boring old lack of wings and tails and mechanical parts and their restraining need of vital things like air? Getting to the point, I'm exploring a whole bunch of characters that aren't, per say, human. In fact, so far only one of them is. And that got me thinking. What are some of the non-human characters available, what are some that haven't even been come up with yet, and how can I make their POVs something special?

    ROBOTS. They're, they're the second non-human character type I ever used. They're a lot of fun because for one, they can usually be put back together. With humans, if their arm or foot or, worse, head happens to come off, well, it's kind of the end...but robots can often be screwed back into place one way or another. Another great reason to write about robots, there's a whole bunch of great robot jokes at your disposal. As for unique qualities, there are plenty of themes to explore when it comes to just about any non-human character. Robots can be programmed for anything. They can be servants, factory workers, assassins, spies, and no doubt that affects their outlook on life. They come in all shapes and sizes so if you do prefer the human look, that's never a problem. :)

    ALIENS. Firstly, I want to make sure and have my definition of "alien" right. One of my early books, The Puddle, featured a parallel universe (which you entered through a puddle, or portal, there's a shocker). The people of this parallel universe LOOKED human but they were slightly genetically different. I'm not sure if you consider that alien. I just knew it didn't make sense for them to be human in my book since they weren't originally from Earth and they were never human, but I didn't want to worry about them having some different body and genetics and stuff. I took the easy way out. In my opinion, the one thing you need to know about aliens is they're NOT HUMANS and that goes beyond looks. Make sure you have their anatomy down pat, and make sure it makes sense--tenticals and antennaes are fun but you can over-do anything. The most important part, I think, though is making sure that you're not just writing about humans in another body. If you've ever written Orson Scott Card's Speaker For the Dead, you know what I mean. The aliens in that book are sentient in the idea that they can feel the same feelings humans feel, and they're intelligent. But that doesn't mean they have the same world history, that doesn't mean that when they're sad, they cry. They might do something totally different. In Speaker for the Dead, they wail like all get out, but no tears. My main piece of advise is: Don't forget that aliens aren't from Earth, they don't have the same background as humans have had. They have their own rituals, their own traditions and culture, as well as their own bodies.

    ALTERED USED-TO-BE-HUMANS. This ranges from genetic alterations to cyborgs, humans trapped in animals bodies and shape-shifters. These are probably the easiest POV's to write because since they're part human or at least used to be human, they're going to be an inherently human view on things. The flipside would be taking something that didn't used to be human and turning it into one, which is where you'd have all the physical characteristics of an average person but a completely different POV to delve into. I'd think that it'd be tons of fun to put an animal, or something similar, into a human body and watch them fumble around before getting used to it. :D So, genetically altered people? It depends on how much they're altered. That can mean small, hardly noticable changes, or the sudden, random appearance of tails, for example, haha. A theme I had fun exploring when it came to my cyborg character, Corbet, was suddenly having a huge realm of intelligence to tap into. Having a brain with basically every piece of available information in the world plugged into it can be a...shock. As for animal like humans, my favorites have got to be nekojins (you know, those anime characters with the ears and cat tails? I didn't know what they were called either until I looked it up on good old wikipedia).

    NOT-SO-HUMAN. I'm not talking about altered humans. Or aliens. I'm talking about, well, something in the middle. Think elves. The best part about it is that you have plenty of room for imagination. You can give people claws, or gills, or more than two eyes, or anything, really. I'll give an example. I have a character who has a mostly human shaped body but he has fins and webbed fingers and toes and gills and he breathes water, not to mention he's happer in a lake than anywhere else. Oh, also he's 352 years old. XD

    MYTHICAL CREATURES AND ANIMALS. This one pretty much speaks for itself. I've written several books where the main characters are all animals. And depending on which you prefer, you can decide whether or not you want those animals to talk or not. I mean, I've seen stranger. Also, it's by no means impossible to write a book without dialogue. I had a 26 chapter story about wolves that ran its course without one single word. And one option I've seen done is that your human characters could have mental bonds with said animal, you can always communicate telepathically and have your handy dandy human counterpart speak for your animal of choice. :) I've also written from the POV of a dragon (a first for me) and it was quite fun!

    INANIMATE OBJECTS. Who says you have to be confined to the limits of what most would consider "alive"? And I'm not talking about zombies. Unknown-Person's Castle of Nations comic (on DeviantArt) takes on some real creativity by taking place in a theme park with 99 percent characters that shouldn't even be able to think. That is, a mannequin with mud for facial features, some kind of doll with a rocking hat, and a resin statue. All very much alive and talking. Tons of fun because they can fall apart and get blown up and fall from heights and they don't die! You just sew/glue/stick 'em back together and they're good as new.

    ZOMBIES/VAMPIRES/WEREWOLVES/ECT. Uhh, like I said, I'm not a supernatural type of person. So I don't think I need to explain myself here--nor would I know how. I don't know a single thing about vampires and werewolves and for the most part I stay away from dead stuff.

    So, as far as I can tell, here's my list of non-human characters at our disposal:

    Nekojins (and other characters that look human but have animal parts)
    Genetic Experiments
    Inanimate Objects (it's a wide range, I don't think I can possibly list everything so I'll leave it up to you)
    Mythical Creatures

    Okay, so I'm pretty much out of ideas at this point. If anybody has any opinions about the character types listed here, I'd love to hear them, and any additions to the list are readily accepted. :)
  2. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Sorry, but we cannot help you with a contest entry.
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