1. Van Turner

    Van Turner Member

    Mar 4, 2013
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    Slidell, LA USA

    Earth references in non-Earth worldbuilding

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Van Turner, Jan 18, 2020.

    My main work is soft sci-fi and is aimed at the young adult audience or possibly juvenile audience. I've pulled away from direct Earth references. I have multiple alien species but I still refer to the humanoid characters as humans. In describing some of the aliens, I use descriptions like "fox-like" or I compared one species to kangaroos. Two of the species have multiple races. For the dog-like species, I compare one of them to a German Shepherd. My question is, should I stay away from using such obvious Earth related descriptions if I'm not setting my story within Earth based world building? Thoughts?
  2. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Senior Member

    Feb 2, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Posting here instead of actually writing
    For animal types, I think calling them by the species name is fine. Otherwise, it gets cumbersome. Birds, bugs, ect, all have to be renamed, and then, if you think about it, plants should be renamed as well.

    If you don't want to call a fox a fox you can do something like: 'The _____ emerged from the undergrowth, a small, 20 lb predatory creature with reddish-brown fur, long, thin legs, lithe frame, pointed nose and bushy tail."

    I'd say avoid giving specific breed names like 'German shepherd'. Unless you happen to have a country called Germany for whatever reason on the alternate world.
  3. The Multiverse

    The Multiverse Member

    Jan 17, 2020
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    If you're using earth based names to discribe anamorphic characters, perhaps referencing lore from various cultures would be helpful. Egyptian, japanese, chinese, nordic, and greek cultures all have a wide variety of monsters and deities based on animals. Unless you ask for suggestion on specific animal traits i can't really be more pointed than thus. Sorry.
  4. KiraAnn

    KiraAnn Active Member

    May 6, 2019
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    By “alien species”, I presume you mean intelligent species, right?

    And by different races in a species, using the “dogs” as an example, like having German Shepherds and Saint Bernards?

    Since this is for the more youthful audience, why not? Would save you a lot of time.

    However, I would not call the individuals “humans” but “persons” instead. After all, one of those pseudo German Shepherds may get ticked off at being called “human”. ;)

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