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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Jul 2014

    How have you made things relatable but still alien?

    Those of you who have written characters and societies who are intelligent but non-human, let's hear about how you've chosen to depict them so that they're relatable without losing their alien-ness.

    For example, I've been writing a bunch of stories lately about a society of giant spiders. One thing I've been struggling with is facial expressions and body language - they can't even smile or frown, since of course they don't have the right kinds of mouths. Neither can they blink or lift their eyebrows. My approach has been to develop a simple, intuitive language of facial expressions they can make and, hopefully, to teach my readers what they mean over the course of the stories. Fangs poked out are angry, aggressive facial expressions, whereas fangs tucked in are friendlier.
    Sometimes, to be extra clear, I deliver it like this: "She smiled, pulling her fangs back behind her chelicerae." Sometimes it's implied from the context - or so I hope. I think it's reasonable to let the reader figure this stuff out on their own sometimes. If I ever get a whole novel together in this setting, I'll probably drop the clues entirely by the end of it.

    Anyone else have examples to share?

  2. #2
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Columbus, Ohio
    Asimov impressed the crap outta me with some of his alien portrayals...completely weird and foreign, but consistent and believable. In his space trilogy, C. S. Lewis wrote some creepy portrayals. His alien was called a Sorn and it was insect-like. I'm not a huge sci-fi fan, but those are the two I've read.

  3. #3
    Member K.S. Crooks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Toronto, Canada
    I would suggest asking people you know what they tick s certain alien would do to display various emotions. this will give you a consensus of what most people may easily be able to interpret in the context you provide. Look at nature shows and adapt the natural characteristics of the species that is closest to your creation. Back during the making of Return of the Jedi, Warwick Davis who played the Ewok Wicket said he based the mannerism he used on his pet dog; when wicket needed to show curiosity he would tilt his head to the side, the same way Warwick's dog would do. Hope this helps.

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