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Non-human Main Characters?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Hibana, Dec 18, 2011.

  1. Hibana

    Hibana New Member

    As a new author, should I risk having a story focused around non-humans? Or one without any humans whatsoever? (Basically, are humans needed for an audience to feel sympathetic to the characters?)

    None of my main characters are human at the moment - one's a (fairly weak) spirit trapped in a physical form, second's a shapeshifter (humanoid-ish form to a giant serpent thing with claws), third's a... elf-thing, but not really. The second two have human-ish values (although not twenty-first century human values) and are more-or-less comprable to humans, but the first is more alien than anything (or at least intended to be).

    Also what about them (and society as a whole) having radically not twenty-first century values? As in not seeing all that much wrong with sacrificing an intelligent being, or with a caste system, or with colonialism and oppression of a native race. Could a character be portrayed as good, but still either having little to no problem with the way such a society operates, or not really caring/ thinking about it? The shapeshifter and the elf do still find things like honor, compassion and defending/ protecting ones friends/nation/people important, and do have strict moral codes (the elf especially), and even the spirit-thing keeps its word and kinda helps the other two (although otherwise it's pretty much amoral). (The shapeshifter's a bit selfish, too - basically, if you're not someone she owes a favor, a friend, or one of her people, she's not overly inclined to go out of her way for you or angst about your fate - she's also the one from the 'human' sacrifice culture). Should I revise the characters to make them more sympathetic, or leave them as-is?

    Does anyone else have mostly or all non-human main characters? (Or dramatically not 21st century cultures?) How are you portraying them?
  2. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

    Hello Hibana, and Welcome to Mythic Scribes!! =)

    I am happy to hear about another writer with stories about characters that are not human... In my stories there are no humans at all, and all the main characters are a different species that includes a long furry tail, claw-like hands with four digits, large eyes, pointy ears, fangs and a rather sadistic nature =)

    The common people in my stories are that species and they have powers of their own...
  3. writeshiek33

    writeshiek33 Sage

    i belive you can have non human characters but with human qualities also i think there might be books out there that you can feel for
  4. Terra Arkay

    Terra Arkay Minstrel

    I second what writeshiek33 said.
  5. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

    I've been working on a side story to my main piece where the main character is an Orc named Lawh. In my world, they do sort of resemble the "Tolkienesque" D&Dish types as far as appearance, but their culture and society are quite adavanced and their government a constutional republic, much like our own. It's a lot of fun to write a story for Lawh and his non-human friends.
  6. zizban

    zizban Troubadour

    A non-human character is doable. I remember reading one book (whose name I forgot) that the narrator was a horse.
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    You can make a character of any kind of physical (or even incorporeal) being you can imagine. Ultimately, they all end up being "human" characters in another form.
  8. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

    I once tried to write a story with a T. Rex for a protagonist. It didn't work out very well in the end, and most of my stories have human protagonists these days, but I still love the idea.
  9. zizban

    zizban Troubadour

    The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle doesn't have a human main character.
  10. AmericanCrime

    AmericanCrime New Member

    I think as long as your non-human character has human qualities like others have said before then it will be successful. Readers need to be able to identify with the main character in question. I don't see that as being very achievable if the main character is non-humanoid, his culture is to alien, or he himself/herself doesn't have any human emotions & characteristics.

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