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Author Topic: How to introduce an alien species  (Read 2002 times)
Erkhyan
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« on: October 24, 2012, 08:16:03 AM »

Hey all,

I have a bit of a conundrum here. How do you introduce an alien species (mostly its appearance) when all of the characters are of that particular species? If some of the characters were human, it would make sense to use comparisons to creatures from Earth to give a general idea, but in this case I don’t know what to do: having a character from this species (or the narration) use such comparisons wouldn’t really make sense, would it? But then, how to do it again?
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Altivo
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2012, 11:17:51 AM »

Rather than trying to describe the entire appearance and function of such a species at once, I'd reveal it gradually, as necessary, and let the reader wonder for a while just what these critters really are.

An extreme example:

Grz'k had a nervous habit that most of us just ignored, but I saw the newcomer eyeing the master with distaste. Apparently the twitching of a minor tentacle was offensive to Zbl'm, and he turned his face away with a grunt of irritation.
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inocain
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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2012, 03:58:28 AM »

Rather than trying to describe the entire appearance and function of such a species at once, I'd reveal it gradually, as necessary, and let the reader wonder for a while just what these critters really are.

While this is a good idea, you are going to need to remember your POV. The Grz'k and Zbl'm example would work very well if the POV was of the same species; however, if the POV is external, making outside references can work, provided they are crafted carefully.
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Altivo
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« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2012, 10:15:30 AM »

Good point, yes. I was indeed thinking that all involved in my brief example were of one species.

More direct description makes sense if multiple species are involved and especially if the narrator is seeing the 'alien' for the first time.
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Erkhyan
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2012, 07:45:54 AM »

The situation is that I have a single non-human species, made up of five subspecies with more or less visible physical differences. The narrator is a member of one of the two dominant subspecies. I imagine that mentioning the differences works when describing characters: “they had the shorter snout associated with the northern people”, “like most inhabitants of Nuuran, he had a long snake-like tail instead of the bushy one the Thaaldese sported”, …
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 07:48:18 AM by Erkhyan » Logged

Altivo
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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2012, 10:52:00 AM »

"Xraldo's tail twitched, a sign of either tension or irritation emphasized by its sinuous length. Inhabitants of Nuuran are often noted for the readability of their tail movements."
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