1. HanktheWriter

    HanktheWriter New Member

    Apr 15, 2014
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    Creating Interesting Aliens

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by HanktheWriter, Nov 1, 2014.

    I’m writing a space adventure novel and I need help designing and naming my aliens. The problem I have is, whenever I come up with an alien design, I think it’s uninteresting and believe readers will not like it.

    How do you go about designing interesting aliens and naming them?
  2. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

    Nov 30, 2006
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    Ohio, USA
    A lot of what make up the aliens depends on your plot and the future (near or distant--or even past) that you've created for yours story.

    Some depends on the environment/world where the aliens are from. Methane atmosphere? Amount of gravity? Warmth and sunlight?

    Another factor to consider is making the aliens more than just a 'human' wearing a different form. Their thought and speech patterns, society, technology and even goals should be different from humanity's.

    I am not saying that everything should be totally different. With my novels, I considered convergent evolution to be a force not only on earth but across the galaxy in my SF works that involve aliens.

    As for the names, some of it is how the aliens name themselves, blended with how the humans name/identify them. At least that's how I did it.

    For example, some aliens mentioned and that appeared in my works are:

    Truhl-gots, appear to be a scaly yellow centauroid cross between a chipmunk and a centipede, and are about three feet tall.

    Shards and Flakes are silicon-based aliens that move using micro-gravities. They resemble large , rigid, three-dimensional snowflakes.

    Umbelgarri are amphibian aliens that appear to be a cross between a salamander and an alligator. They communicate through low sound waves (like elephants) and chromataphores, which change the color of their skins (like squid).

    There are the Chicher, which are a pack species, and a cross between a rat and a chipmunk,

    Just to give you names of the others (for naming examples) would be the Crax (the Gar Crax, Selgum Crax and Primus Crax), the V'Gun, Stegmars (Stegmar Mantis), the Felgan, etc.

    You can find other examples. Tony Daniel's novel, Guardian of Night, has aliens that are very different, being more fungal and communicate via odors/scents than anythingelse. very difficult for humans to figure out and understand.

    There's the Posleen war series by John Ringo that has three unusual peaceful races (the galactics--that are all quite different and unique) and on genetically manipulated warring species, the Posleen, which have their own unique culture and behaviors.

    What I would recommend is reading novels that are similar to what you hope to write, observe how those writers created their aliens, allowed the reader to come to understand those aliens within the context of the story, named them, etc. Television and movies that have aliens, while they might be of some assistance, are not the same medium of creation, and have limiting factors that a novel and writer/reader imagination doe not.

    Good luck as you move forward.
  3. CGB

    CGB Active Member

    May 15, 2014
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    Depends if you want to do Hard SCI-FI or not.

    I love Sci-fi and I am working on a space opera of my own right now. The concern I have with aliens in my own story is how to make them as realistic as possible. That may sound like a rather meaningless thing to say, since "realism" is a standard applied by a comparison to things that we actually know exist. But there is ample speculation out there that is arrived at through inference based on what we know of life on Earth.

    I think this problem mainly has to do with creating realistic sentient aliens, however, since we only have n=1 sample size of those on Earth.

    If the so-called "realism" of your aliens is not important to the story, then that is a different matter. I am in the process of trying to figure out how much UNLIKE humans my aliens should be. If they are too similar to humans, they will be unrealistic. If they are too dissimilar, it will be hard for them to communicate and use as characters since the reader won't be easily able to relate to them.

    It's tough, but in the end having humanoid aliens that speak English won't ruin your story at all if you aren't specifically tailoring it to the hard sci-fi crowd. I think there are areas of gray here that are tolerated by what would call the majority of sci-fi readers. For instance, Mass Effect is probably the greatest space opera of our time (IMO), but a lot of the alien races in there are completely unrealistic. Same is true of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Babylon 5.
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  4. James Random

    James Random Member

    Nov 7, 2014
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    If you look at pictures of aliens, you'll always find they have some kinship with terrestrial organisms. They always have something like a grashopper's leg, or something like a beak. Humans are limited by their frames of reference.

    The good news is that there are a lot of terrestrial organisms that are just pain weird. I'd advise checking them out (google is your friend). Deep sea creatures are a speciality of nature's freakish performances.

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