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Where No Man Has Gone Before

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Inara, Oct 29, 2005.

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  1. Inara

    Inara Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 30, 2005
    Do these people make you happy:

    [image=http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a7/Inara47/wookie.jpg] [image=http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a7/Inara47/twilek.jpg] [image=http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a7/Inara47/movie_bg.jpg]


    If your answer is yes, then this is the place for you! :cool:

    This thread is for anyone who wants to discuss writing non-human species. With the blessing of a mod, I'm starting this because I noticed that most discussion threads are about humans even though the Star Wars universe is rich in alien characters.

    Unforunately, most people have difficulty writing aliens accurately because we're human, and it's hard to see things beyond our own perspective. As a result, we tend to imbue aliens with human qualities.

    So how do we see things from the other side? How can we write non-humans so that they retain their alienness yet still remain accessible to readers emotionally?

    Some problems that writers face are writing plausible alien ceremonies and customs (an example is describing a Hutt style wedding), keeping an alien OC alien, depicting non-human behavior, etc.

    I know I'm not the only one intrigued by the complexities and challenges of writing aliens, and I hope that this can be a place where we can contribute ideas and tips, as well as share problems that we face.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~


    I guess we need a topic to start off, so...


    What are your favorite aliens/species to write about?

    Any takers?

     
  2. Souderwan

    Souderwan Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2005
    This is a cool idea, Inara. :)

    My favorite non-human species to write is one I actually made up. Yoda has always been a fascinating little guy to me--especially because GL never got around to telling us about him. So his species is a fun one to write for me. :)
     
  3. Borgchild

    Borgchild Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2005
    The Yuuzhan Vong are a favorite of mine... But I also enjoy writing Vergere.

    -Vongy
     
  4. Captain-Kettch

    Captain-Kettch Jedi Youngling star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 16, 2005
    I agree with Borgy, the Yuuzhan Vong are very fun to write. But I also like Twi'Leks, because you have to deal with their whole caste system, and that most other species look at them with distrust because they're known as either prostitutes(you know they're not just dancing) or traders who would cheat you outta a deal real quick-like.
     
  5. Jennifer_Lyn

    Jennifer_Lyn Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 8, 2005
    Well, besides writing Yoda, who's always fun, I've done very little with aliens.
    Just wrote a Bothan for the first time, and I can see doing more with them.

    Great idea for a thread! I think we often default on humans because it's "easier". There is a diversity of neglected species out there, and all those wonderful cultures to dig into!
     
  6. KELIA

    KELIA Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 26, 2005
    The only alien I've written so far is Yoda and he's probably the most written about because he's realatively easy.

    I think the biggest challenge, and why I've stayed away from writing other species is because I'm not really used to thinking beyond human thought and behavior.

    And trying to write another language is tough as well. How can you write it and have the readers know what you're talking about? The wookie language is a perfect examle.

     
  7. JadeSolo

    JadeSolo Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 20, 2002
    I have to admit I haven't done much writing of aliens. [face_blush] The one I've done the most is Shistavanen, but I didn't expect to be using him a lot, so I didn't actually look up anything about the Shistavanen culture. I just ran with the idea that werewolves are scary, but this guy is a Jedi, so...yeah. [face_laugh]

    I think writing Bothans would be an interesting challenge. Sometimes they strike me as being very much like Spartans, and other times I'm thinking, "Oh, get over yourself!" :p The Chiss are another great culture to explore. And ever since seeing ROTS, I want to know more about a Mon Cal's idea of good opera. :p
     
  8. Lovely-in-Orange

    Lovely-in-Orange Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Apr 21, 2005
    Great idea to do this thread! Except maybe for Yoda, aliens tend to get ignored as major characters in a lot of fanfic and even most profic (with the notable exception of the comics). Which is a shame as they are a fun part of Star Wars. To me it's especially interesting to see the alien cultures in a Jedi. The humans can have no idea of their culture, but an alien Jedi knows what people he or she belongs to.

    My favorite right now to write is Zabrak, they've got the fierce looks and a few different physical abilities - they can handle pain more easily than humans, tend to be bad medics/healers, and are very determined. So it's fun to take those things and play with. And you have questions like, if a character naturally looks intimidating and sticks out like a sore thumb do they take advantage of that? Or do they try even harder to blend in?

    The Twi'Leks are also interesting since you can deal with the issue of females being mistreated as slaves or even just disrespected. The average Twi'Lek is shocked by the idea that a female like Aayla could be a Jedi. It's often fun to see such stereotypes proven wrong.
     
  9. Seldes_Katne

    Seldes_Katne Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2002
    Favorite aliens? Despite their supposed lack of popularity, I write about Gungans. (Um, a lot, actually. [face_blush]) I was fascinated by the entire race in TPM, probably in part because they were supposed to be "close to nature". One of my interests is Native American culture, and some of what I know about that was easily adaptable when I started creating Gungan culture for my fics. I also tend to make background and minor characters out of Mon Calamari and Twi'leks, and had fun writing a version of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" featuring an Ewok in the title role.

    I agree that often the alien characters tend to seem like humans in costumes, rather than truly alien. This might be partly due to the author projecting human characteristics on the character, but also because we as the audience do need some way to relate to the characters. The trick is to make them non-human, but still sympathetic or understandable.

    One of the tricks I use to get inside a non-human mind-set is to look at Terrestrial animals that have the same characteristics as the aliens I'm writing about. With Gungans it was frogs, toads and other amphibians. What would their culture and behavior be like if frogs and toads developed human-level intelligence? For example, how would they deal with reproduction issues? Amphibians produce large numbers of eggs. If they have no natural preditors, like the Gungans, how would they control their population? Amphibians are cold-blooded; if the Gungans are the same, how would they cope with cold weather? Living in a swampy, wet climate, would Gungans have a word for fire? How would they produce heat and light if they don't burn wood or other fuel? Male and female Gungans appear to have no major physical differences. Would gender biases arise in their culture, or would females be truly equal with males?

    I gave Gungans their own language (High Gungan) as opposed to the "Gunganese" we hear Jar Jar speak in the films. (There is actually a very brief segment in TPM when Jar Jar and the Jedi enter Gunga City in which we hear two other Gungans talk to each other in a language that isn't Gunganese or Basic, thereby suggesting the Gungans had a different language among themselves.) "Gunganese" became a form of "Basic" that the Gungans had picked up centuries ago when human colonists first came to Naboo; with very little contact between most Gungans and most humans, the Gunganese words and phrases didn't change much as Basic "evolved" over time, so when Gungans speak to humans, it often doesn't make much sense.
     
  10. Inara

    Inara Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 30, 2005
    Yay, people who've responded! [face_love]

    Hmm, I love writing about the Chiss because I want to prove to everyone that they aren't six foot tall blue smurfs with no feelings...Seriously though, I like writing about them because it's nice to leave the human perspective every once in a while.

    By justifying human and alien behaviors makes for an interesting writing experience (in one of my stories, there is a Chiss who just doesn't understand the concept of holding hands).

    I also like Twi'leks because as some said earlier, they have a fascinating culture and history. I haven't written about them except vaguely, but I'd like to try my hand at it.

     
  11. Healer_Leona

    Healer_Leona Squirrely Community Mod star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jul 7, 2000
    Excellent idea for a thread Inara. Couldn't help but laugh at

    six foot tall blue smurfs with no feelings

    As someone who's only very recently read the Thrawn Trilogy, Smurfs are the last things I think them as. :D :D
     
  12. Borgchild

    Borgchild Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2005
    One of my favorite stories that I've written is "When My Mother was a Yuuzhan Vong". I played my main characters, Torre and Chess, against stereotypes of their species. Torre became an idealistic dreamer of a Yuuzhie who desperately wanted to escape tradition and fly. Chess, on the other hand, was a human with parents who drew their cultural influences from the Yuuzhan Vong and the Chiss, but she was never really at home with either culture. The story became her realization that species stereotypes ran deep and what was expected of her as a human was different from what was expected of someone of a different species.

    It's always fun to break out of those stereotypes and create new character types. Can anyone, for example, imagine a far future fic with a computer hacking Yuuzhan Vong? How about a psychologist Chiss?
     
  13. Darth_Elu

    Darth_Elu Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jan 2, 2003
    Good thread this is, very good indeed. A respectful nod goes toward Miss Inara here. Aliens are a strong backbone of the Star Wars universe. It is what makes it fun and seperates it from other sci-fi. Sure other sci-fi have other species, but they're usually depicted as evil or just really really dull. In SW, not so much. They actually have lives of their own and not to mention the amount! The sheer quantity of species and races within the galaxy is enormous and I've always had fun tracking down new species and studying as much as I could of them. Perhaps if the galaxy was real and I lived within it, I'd be an anthropologist. But I digress.

    About time they got respect and I've actually been thinking of possibly writing a short little piece on a group of non-human jedi to get my writing abilities back(have been in hiatus). Always looking to hear of new species of jedi, very fascinating what you can come up with.

    Now one that has fascinated me, and is commonly used I've seen. Is the Yuuzhan Vong jedi...now, no offense to anyone, but I've rarely seen this pulled off well. The Yuuzhan Vong would still be a little reluctant and would utterly despise the lightsaber in my honest opinion. Former Shamed One or Traditionalist, doesn't matter which. This particular fellow would mature as a Jedi in one of two ways, IMO.

    1) Forgoes the lightsaber, though tolerates it enough to perhaps make one to show learning ability, then gives it away or something. As some Jedi have gone on to say, and some Sith too actually, the lightsaber is not truly needed. It is but a tool or but an icon of the Jedi and Sith. What is truly needed to shape oneself...is the Force. The Yuuzhan Vong would follow this philosophy strictly. Wields the force, focuses very little, if at all, on lightsaber prowess. If a former warrior, I'm sure the Force would still be good enough for him or her, if not, they get an amphistaff or something, maybe a stick like ancient Jedi Master Vodo Siosk-Baas and reinforce it with the Force, to use it against lightsaber wielding opponents. The Force is truly this character's ally.

    2) On the other hand, the Yuuzhan Vong despises the lightsaber, but still can't pass up the idea and opportunity of having and using one. Maybe in the beginning stages of training, confusing the lightsaber as the sole thing that makes a Jeedai...especially if taken from a former position in the warrior caste. In this case, once again, the Yuuzhan Vong might tolerate a saber long enough to make one to show learning, but that's it. Gives it away or something else. However, the Yuuzhan Vong goes and finds a living organism that is able to bond with lightsaber crystals and can function just like one. Blade coming out of the mouth and all....now a light staff would be impossible, it would kill the creature, but a normal one bladed saber could then be possible. Is this creature new? Or is it a very young(thus much smaller) amphistaff creature that with the crystals in place now has permanently stunted its growth so its forever the length of a saber hilt, perfect for the Yuuzhan Vong Jedi? And think of it, if so, it would be used as a whip with a lightsaber blade at the end. Imagine the training on that. ;)


    Either way you take that character, if you can truly work on him or her, you'll have a well rounded, developed character. Both options give way to interesting philosphies and behaviors of the character.


    [/end rant]




    Furthermore, I've also wanted to see a Ssi-Ruuk Jedi or Sith. :p Come on! The image is amusing! :p And cool. :cool:

    edit: You know, perhaps it is blind and that I've been out of touch for so long...but I didn't notice the YV characterization thread here. :p Oh well, this is going to stay anyway! [face_devil] :p
     
  14. Eviltwist_hellspawn

    Eviltwist_hellspawn Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    Oct 29, 2005
    I make up species all the time, mainly because I'm too lazy to read dictionaries to find out who belongs where. Tho I do use others, such as Hutts, Twi'leks, etc.

    Computer hacking Yuuzhan Vong... or how bout a Borg that hates technology? ;)
     
  15. Inara

    Inara Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 30, 2005
    All species are welcome here, including the YV :) I'm glad that YV experts like Vongy are dropping by.

    The Yuuzhan Vong are interesting, and unlike most, if not all, other alien races in profic, they've actually been culturally developed for us to understand them. We know about their religion, social order, some of their traditions, and it makes them much more interesting to us.

    I wish the other races would be developed even half way as much as them. :(

    Another race that has really interested me are the Hutts. I mean, they are so funny but so evil. As a halloween fic, I seriously considered writing a fluffy Jabba story.


    Seldes_Katne: That's actually a reallt great idea. By comparing aliens to other non-human beings and imagining them with sentience makes a great deal of sense, especially when you consider amphibious and reptilian aliens (Mon Cal, Quarren, Nautolans, Falleen...).
     
  16. Darth_Elu

    Darth_Elu Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jan 2, 2003
    Interesting idea....

    And fluff Jabba story eh? What about Jabba reading a bed time story to a hutt child he is somehow stuck with baby sitting while he has to secretly operate some dangerous(even for him) deal and have the kid have no idea what's going on....or the kid's parents for that matter. :p

    Amusing image. :p [face_laugh]

    Jabba: Once upon a time...*grumbles* Why am I doing this?

    Kid: Unca Juppa?

    Jabba: JABBA! IT IS JABBA!

    Bib Fortuna: *snickers behind Jabba's back*
     
  17. The_Face

    The_Face Ex-Manager star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 22, 2003
    Well, I like to spice things up with non-humans, but I must admit I'm often guilty of not doing a great job of keeping them alien, if you understand my meaning. For example, one of my main characters in my ongoing detective series is a Duro, but he could pretty easily be human, if he didn?t make fun of our species so much. There aren?t really any major Duro characters in canon, but I did read the Star Wars Gamer (remember that?) issue that did a profile on them. Apparently they were big astronavigators, maybe the first interplanetary travelers (fitting since they sort of look like aliens from the 50s). Jav Yonx doesn?t know much about spaceships, but he does have the intelligence and cold logic necessary to learn advanced mathematics. He also is sorely lacking in an understanding of jokes or figurative language, like most scientists. ;)

    There was also a major supporting character in the third of the series who was a Twi?lek thief. Other than a tendency to objectify women, he wasn?t terribly Twi?lek.

    Still, not every character has to be defined by its culture, especially on worlds that have lots of species intermingling. You?ve got your outcasts that don?t fit into that society (such as a slicer YV :p). Still, their upbringing should have at least some impact on them.

    My favorite non-humans? I like Wookiees, but they?re pretty difficult. Do I go sans translation like the movies or try to stick subtitles in his or her dialogue with the <> device? Chiss are really cool in my opinion, but they?re not supposed to be widespread, so I can?t really get away with writing more than one every two or three stories. Kel Dor are a great visual, but so mysterious it?s hard to get a grasp on them. I use them anyway on account of my strange fascination with Plo Koon. :rolleyes: Ewoks are the ultimate in comedic material. Since reading R_Zion?s work, I?ve really begun to like Quarren. That rivalry with the Mon Calamari can make for instant tension if necessary (same with Wookiees and Trandoshans). I can?t say I can pick a favorite species; I usually judge character by character.
     
  18. Borgchild

    Borgchild Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2005
    I'm honored!

    Yeah. I've got the problem that in one of my AU stories, I removed Nen Yim from her place in the timeline so early in the plot that she acts almost human. I find it hard to go back and write stuff closer to the timeline with her because of how I'm used to characterizing her! Someone commented on "OSAL" that a particular scene didn't sound particularly Yuuzhie-ish. You can bet it's because I'm used to the AU characterization of her I developed in Among the Stars, where she's driving speeders and freaking out Tahiri.

    EDIT: I run two characterization and discussion threads for Yuuzhan Vong characters. [link=http://boards.theforce.net/Fan_Fiction_Resource/b10304/21732864/?1080] The Cult of Janen[/link] is specifically dedicated to the couple Jacen/Nen Yim and therefore Nen Yim. [link=http://boards.theforce.net/Fan_Fiction_Resource/b10304/18388320/?132]Behind the Scars[/link] is dedicated to Yuuzhan Vong in general.
     
  19. Borgchild

    Borgchild Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Hutts are androgynous. Jabba could have been pregnant durring ROTJ for all we know. :-D Jabba is not male.
     
  20. The_Face

    The_Face Ex-Manager star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 22, 2003
    Considering the uniform for his female employees, it's hard to believe. ;)
     
  21. Darth_Elu

    Darth_Elu Force Ghost star 6

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    Jan 2, 2003
    Hmm...really? I had not realized that. :p
     
  22. JediTristan

    JediTristan Jedi Youngling star 3

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    Nov 30, 2004
    What? How are Hutts androgynous? Jabba has a wife in TPM.
     
  23. Darth_Elu

    Darth_Elu Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jan 2, 2003
    Indeed. That confuses me as well....*must study Hutts more*
     
  24. Lovely-in-Orange

    Lovely-in-Orange Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Apr 21, 2005
    From what I remember on Hutts... I think this iscoming from the one of the early NJO books (one of Lucerno's with Randa?) but they spend portions of their lives male and portions female. But I think there is some contradictory stuff out about them. Gardulla was described as female in all the TPM materials, but maybe she/it was just at that lifestage where she was feeling more girly?
     
  25. Borgchild

    Borgchild Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2005
    True. They do spend time as each gender. Gardulla is female in all the source marterial, as is Borga (NJO). But Borga is stated to be "the only female hutt", so it's possible Gardulla has moved out of that life stage. As far as I know, Hutts are considered female when they are in heat or pregnant, and considered male or neither the rest of the time.

    The other hutts looked down on Jabba because of his inclination towards humanoid females.
     
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