And what better way to start out than with aliens?
A is for Aliens
Aliens come in all shapes and sizes.
For the longest time, they were little grey humanoids with big bug-eyes who, apparently, had no concept of the need for clothing. Then we graduated to spidery-shaped things, bulbous-headed monsters, creepy octopus land animal things, and humanoids with green skin who can't get enough of starship captains.
And, seriously, aliens have to be one of the best parts of experiencing science fiction. Or so these guys would have you believe:
But forming them for your story is not always as cut and dried as it may seem. Putting a weird head on an otherwise humanoid body is, well...not always realistic. (I'm looking at you, George Lucas.)
You have to make your aliens truly alien. Even if they are humanoid for some good reason, chances are that they don't dress in similar clothing, have the same entertainment, or get the same pleasure out of a really sweet car as we do.
Because they're not human. Realistically, an alien race probably wouldn't think, process, or be anything like us.
Imagine if a cat suddenly spoke our language. We might attach human personalities to them all day long ('cause it's cute to think of them as tiny humanoid people with tiny human-like concerns) but I'll bet you anything that an explanation of the world from that cat's mouth would be entirely foreign to us.
As a writer, it's your job to make your aliens foreign to humanity. To do that, you have to be willing to really dig in and build their world around them. Do they see colors? How do they eat? Are they animalistic in nature? Do they even think thoughts?
Remember, though, that it won't be your aliens that will read your story but humans. So, the Catch 22 here is that as alien as you make your aliens, in the end they still have to be...well, human.
What is your favorite alien or alien concept? Why?