Extraordinary Extraterrestrials: Writing Alien Characters

by | Oct 4, 2023 | Science Fiction, writing tips | 0 comments

Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

They’ve always been at the center of people’s curiosity, given the mystery of their existence. Authors can utilize this wonder by mystifying alien characters.

In discussions of alien characters, most would picture the little green guys with large eyes and thin, long limbs. Safe for the genre-specific requirement of making them more frightening, this is how they’ve been depicted in the media. This is the stereotypical alien form. It’s what impacted the audience’s minds that if such creatures truly existed, most would expect them to look like them. Despite how long it’s been since this form was established, it has stayed relevant in pop culture.

However, as authors, you won’t want to settle with what’s conventional and typical. Instead, you would like to stand out among the congested genre. To create something unique, away from a deeply-engraved character, would help establish authors in the scene.

How the Extraterrestrials Evolved

In The Alien Stranger, a science fiction book by Bob Ticer, readers are introduced to an extraterrestrial character as a human. This alien stranger lives among humans, concealing his true identity with mundanity. This characteristic makes his interactions with other characters more interesting, a secret only readers know.

While The Alien Stranger is a leap away from the green stereotype, this representation isn’t distinctive in the current media. With the development of alien characters, depicting them as humans to disguise their real identity is nothing new. However, before it has arrived at this level of modernity, these characters have gone through different evolutions.

After their earliest image as green figures, the extraterrestrials have taken a massive change in appearance during their feature in the 1979 film “Alien.” In this production, the conceptual framework of alien characters took an enormous turn. From the relatively peaceful-looking little green guys, the extraterrestrials became these physically aggressive and uncanny creatures that posed an evident danger. From this new concept, alien characters continued to progress. Film after film, authors and creative directors created more distinctive characteristics for these figures.

With years of this genre’s popularity, there exists a growing limitation of unique alien creatures. It becomes a dilemma for authors who want to create a never-been-done character. And quite frankly, it can be a challenge, but with these basics, they can start simplifying this endeavor.

Creating Unique Alien Characters

When it comes to creating characters, a go-to advice authors will follow is to write about what they currently have and research more about the concept. But when they want to make something entirely new, sticking strictly to this suggestion would contradict their goal.

In this situation, they must scrap everything they know about the extraterrestrial and start with a blank canvas. This way, they’re guaranteed to avoid being influenced by existing imagery and create a unique concept. Here are some steps to how this can be achieved.

Decide About a Concept

Before molding these alien characters’ prototypes, authors must already have a vision of what they want. Establishing how they want these extraterrestrials to interact with other characters makes it easier for the authors to create a physical image.

Are they planning on making the character terrorize the community? If this is the case, they must make it look intimidating by adding an evident deformity or a unique feature to the character. Will these extraterrestrials have different kingdoms or species? If so, authors would have other special characteristics shared per culture. This makes the general idea more believable for the readers and more effortless for authors to establish.

Get Inspired by What’s Around

The world is filled with beautiful creatures and imagery for authors to tap into when making characters for their novels. By looking closely at their surroundings, they can create alien characters filled with life and unique traits. What’s more, with the world as their source of inspiration, authors would rarely ever run out of creativity.

These existing creatures, combined with their imagination, can produce some of the most breathtaking or frightening characters. When they’re running out of creative juices, authors can take a quick break and stroll outside. Not only will they refresh their minds, but they will also gain inspiration from their surroundings. They can write everything they find interesting down and come up with something later.

Alien characters have yet to be established as reality. Hence, authors have the freedom to create them as weirdly or unrealistically as they want. They only have to make sure that everything else is logical based on the characteristics they’ve given and the world they’ve created. Extraterrestrials have been a source of wonder. Authors have the opportunity to make something wonderful out of this.


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