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  1. Rebo

    Rebo New Member

    Aug 26, 2011
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    Fantasy animal characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Rebo, Aug 26, 2011.

    I have a few thing I need to sort out before I start writing so thought I would ask in here.

    When writing about animal characters how should I refer to their limbs, paws or hands, arms or legs?. These animals will carry and use items but I will still need to refer to some of their real world characteristics such as a badgers claws.

    Imagine a group of animals having a meeting before they go out hunting, they are getting a little rowdy and the speaker needs to get a little control. Would he say, "men, a little calm please". I can't seem to find a more suitable word other than 'men' and it's bugging me a little.
  2. popsicledeath

    popsicledeath Banned

    Nov 11, 2010
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    The answer to all fiction questions: depict the reality of the story. If the animal-characters have paws, then they have paws, and should be referred to as paws. If they have human hands, then say hands. If they're walking upright and using what used to be their front legs as arms, then they're really arms, right, so use arms, etc.

    Also, men is a general enough term (often still even used with women in the group, depending on the setting). Using the term wouldn't be literally implying all the characters are human males, so it's safe to use, if you wish. If you aren't comfortable with it, then try to find the reality of that situation. What would the leader of a group of badger people call them? (rhetorical question that nobody should be able to answer but you or someone else exceedingly familiar with the work and characters).
  3. Trish

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Mar 12, 2011
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    New York
    I agree entirely with pops. The most important thing with something like this is that you be consistent. If you call their paws "paws" throughout half of the book, don't suddenly start calling them "hands". If there is another animal, say a bird, that can communicate with the badgers, it would maybe call the badger's claws "talons" depending on the intelligence you've given the bird and it's ability to recognize other animal's differences, while a human character interacting with the badgers would call the badgers paws "paws" and the claws "claws" (probably). If there are birds and humans. Long way around to saying, be consistent and it doesn't matter.

    Fact is we don't know what a badger would call his paws. He may call them "paddles". He may call them "ghambers". Call them whatever you want :p
  4. cybrxkhan

    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

    Jun 16, 2009
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    Concerning whether you should use "men" or not, it's really your call. Something like "Please, dragons, can we calm down please?" techncially has nothing wrong with it. However, it will draw attention to the fact that these characters are dragons; if you feel that that kind of word usage makes it seems like the story is saying 'HEY LOOK THESE CHARACTERS ARE DRAGONS', then don't put it in. "Men" is kind of a default for us, anyways, so it won't seem too strange to the reader, if at all.
  5. Kamaria

    Kamaria New Member

    Mar 29, 2011
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    The Redwall series by Brian Jacques deals with the same type of thing. The characters are woodland creatures-mostly mice, badgers, squirrels, etc. In the story, instead of 'men', 'beasts' is used to describe the characters. Also, somebeast is used instead of someone, everybeast instead of everyone, etc. Brian Jacques uses paws for their limbs because, really, that is what they are to begin with.

    Hope this helps.

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