Creating An Alien Race

Geofiction 101: Creating an Alien Race

Alright, let's admit it: the coolest part about geofiction is creating aliens.

Okay, even if science fiction isn't your thing, coming up with your own race of exotic (and/or fearsome) aliens is pretty cool and exciting. As a kid, I know I loved to come up with my own aliens, modeled mostly on my friends in my class and (of course) my teachers - many of whom I suspected probably were actual aliens.

Making an alien civilization is one of the most popular components of a geofiction project, and can give you hours of fun. This is a brief guide to making your own people and giving them an identity of their own.

Step One: Looks and Environment

Looks aren't everything, but they are a good starting point. What will your alien race look like? Often, we come up with an appearance of our imaginary creatures before we even come up with names. Creating an appearance allows you to visualize your created race as you develop the rest of their characteristics and traits. It also gives you ideas for the rest of the physical attributes of the race (and even the environment).

For example, let's say you create a race of aliens who all look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, gills and all. Clearly, these aliens must live in or near water, which means that your planet should have a lot of water (such as lagoons, swamps, lakes, etc.). Since they would look pretty evil, it would be logical and easy to believe that their personalities are as dark and nasty as their appearance.

Similarly, if you create a slender, angelic race of people with wings, you could view them as being kind and intelligent beings living in a world full of light and air. Of course, you are by no means constricted to these archetypes; if you wanted a race of gorgeous, kind-looking pixies who were terrible monster imperialists, that would definitely be possible.

Step Two: Traits

What kind of attributes does your race possess? Are they barbarians, or highly intelligent (or somewhere in between)? Are they pacifists, or do they love war? What is their average lifespan? Do they have magical powers and abilities? What are their interests? What are the most identifiable parts of their psyche? Humans, for example, are resourceful and hardy individuals, for the most part. Perhaps your aliens are highly intelligent colonizers who are very frail and depend on superior technology?

Step Three: Culture

Creating culture is a vital part of creating an alien race, but is a full exercise in and of itself. Therefore, we will discuss the basics of culture. Your culture has a lot to do with how you will view the race as a whole. What kind of family structure do they use? Do they have major holidays? What about gender? What are the values and morals of the society? Are they individualists, or prefer community? To answer these questions, ponder real-life cultural differences and use cultures around the world as sources and references.

Once you have established these basics, you can use this foundation as a stepping stone to more detailed information regarding your created race.

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