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Which Is More Likely To Succeed: Writing About Humans Or Non-Humans?

  1. Humans

    2 vote(s)
    100.0%
  2. Non-Humans

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. humanornot
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    humanornot New Member

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    Theme Writing About Humans Vs Creatures You've Made Up And How Much To Read

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by humanornot, Jan 1, 2014.

    My first question is, how much should I read before I try to write a novel?

    Now for my second query:

    Are you more likely to write a respected novel about humans or non-human creatures?

    I assume it could take more imagination to write about non-human creatures, but lots of respected novels seem to be about humans.

    I am not well-read and haven't thought about it too much.

    I was considering writing a novel about non-human creatures, because this is one easy method to get my message across. My message is the (probably overdone) message that judging people for anything harmless is stupid. I'd do this by having different creatures with their own ways of doing things and having the creatures judge one another for these things.

    Is this theme stupid? What are some respected themes? I suppose that a good enough writer could do my theme in the way I described. Has my idea been done before? Is it too rubbish?
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Writing about completely alien creatures can be a big challenge. Having some link to humanity, as a foundation, is somewhat important I think. Why would creatures completely alien think at all like humans? Why would they hold of value, such as not judging, important (or not important)? Why would their culture in any way resemble humanity's culture, or even thought process?

    I am just posing a lot of questions you'd have to tackle before you proceed with writing, especially if you focus on non-human characters/cultures.

    And yes, you should do a lot of reading before attempting to write. Would an engineer who intends to design an automobile drive and examine other vehicles and, if nothing else, learn required parameters to be a useful vehicle and what works (and why)? If you say yes, then why wouldn't a writer do a good bit of reading?

    Some of the questions above (that you asked) would've easily been answered if you were well-read. It takes time, yes, but there is a potential payoff for the effort. When you read, read not just for enjoyment, but study and pay attention to how successful authors told their tales, and the mechanics of the effort involved.

    As to the survey question. It cannot be answered. It depends on the skill of the writer. Both methods could be successful. Both could be utter failures.

    That's my two cents. Good luck as you move forward.
     
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  3. Wyr
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    Wyr Active Member

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    As to your first question, the answer is more. I don't care how much or how little you've read in the past, you can always read more and it'll do your mind nothing but good. I would suggest focusing on reading the type of books that you hope to write; not just genre, but also for your target audience and the themes you hope to convey.

    About your theme- yes it's been done before, a lot probably. But here's the secret, every theme out there has been done to death a hundred times over. Your job as an author is to present it in a fresh and interesting way.

    I'm afraid your pole question doesn't make much sense, and I doubt the results would be any real help to you anyway. You are the only one who can answer that question. If you are so uncertain scribble down two different versions of a few paragraphs, one for humans and one for your made-up creatures. Keep going as long as you can and see which one works better/feels more natural.
     
  4. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    You shouldn't write fiction to push an agenda, you should write fiction to entertain and give your reader something to think about. When I read a story that is clearly trying to push a theme in my face, it makes my face go backwards, away from the pages, and most likely won't be revisited, finished or reread by me. Just wanted to throw that out there.
     
  5. humanornot
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    humanornot New Member

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    Thanks everyone!

    I think I'll just read a bit more (I have a fairly extensive set of books to get through!) and then see what ideas come to me. I realised that my idea was rubbish before posting here, but it's all I have right now!
     
  6. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    No idea is rubbish, just how it's written.

    If you really want to try your hand at it, I recommend reading a little first or just get some books from the library on the subject. Even your best effort at fanfiction would be lacking without proper grounding from years of exposure, experimenting, or just plain studying.
     
  7. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    If I can throw in my two cents worth, I would suggest that a) you can never read enough b) it does not matter what your basic idea for a story is, so long as it is told in a convincing (and even better, fresh) manner and c) tackling a novel might be years of effort. Start with a short story and see how that goes. Focus on a single point of view, and a single event. d) If you get the short story out, and you had a good time writing it, write another with the same characters. Maybe try to create a suite of stories that relate? They can later be expanded into a novel if that is still your intention.

    To be honest, you can do whatever you like. There are no rules. Or maybe, there is one rule, if you want your stuff to be read and as you say, "respected." It has to be good. That one point covers a very broad spectrum of writing styles, thematic considerations, plot, narrative, etc, etc. I just say, write something that you would enjoy reading, publish and be damned!
     
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  8. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I have a hypothesis on this. My feeling is that any sentient society would need to be a communal one. Loners, creatures that are solitary and territorial, would not develop because they are loners. All knowledge is kept to themselves and for a society to develop, it needs to pass on knowledge.

    Now, with the development of sentience from a communal society, comes an understanding and empathy that would lead to a system of ethics.

    I would go on, but it's late here and I have to get up early.
     
  9. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    I agree with the general consensus: read more. Read broadly. Read things that don't even particularly interest you and seek insight in them. Everything has something it can teach you, even if it's that you shouldn't do something.

    Personally, I find human characters easier to empathize with. I understand many nuances about humanity, Western society, and life in the modern age. Whenever I play Dungeons & Dragons, I choose human characters because I understand the perspective. Elves, dwarves, and all those other races are too foreign to my understanding to do what I would consider justice. I think it takes serious skill to craft an alien culture, society, and psychology that isn't just humans rebranded. Even creating solid, alien human cultures, at least to me, is a daunting task...
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Even if you use aliens, they need some human characteristics for the reader to identify with.
     
  11. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Yes.

    But the film that wins the Academy Award this year also works around a done-before theme.

    Success will depend on execution.
     
  12. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    My screenplay puts humans in the backseat for the first segment. They pretty much disappear in the second segment, but become contributing members of a Coalition in the third. However, the MC through all this is human and the catalyst/influence character takes the appearance of human, so humans aren't out, they just need to cook a little longer before those who have gone further will accept them.
     

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