Happy Friday, movers and shakers! The weekend’s finally here. Today I’m going to propose a writing prompt specifically tailored for science fiction fans. In particular, I want to have people take a closer look at alien origins.
I’m not a big fan of stories detailing initial human/alien encounters. Still, I’ve found myself reading two such books recently, one which I will review on this blog much later today. These two books, while both focusing on initial encounters, take quite different approaches to aliens and their interactions with humans. One deals with a more enlightened Earth joining a league of other enlightened beings throughout the universe; the other involves reptilians from the Roswell UFO crash. Both of these books, nevertheless, have caught my attention. Why? Because, while mostly in line with classic science fiction, these stories have unique views of aliens which I haven’t often encountered.
I have a complicated relationship with the UFO and alien phenomenon. I don’t think that all UFOs are alien space craft. In fact, I’m not sure that even a small percentage is extraterrestrial in origin. I just think they’re unidentified flying objects, hence UFO. However, I do think we’re not the only inhabited planet in all the universe. I can’t imagine what the other beings might look like and I don’t know if we ever have or ever will make contact with them, but I think that they’re out there, beyond our reach.
I know more than I would like to admit about the pop culture trend. I watch shows on supposed alien encounters, sometimes out of curiosity and sometimes for a laugh. There seems to be, at least to me, three prominent species of alien people claim to encounter: grays, humanoids, and reptilians (all of which you’ll find on People of Earth).
This affirmation leads me to today’s writing prompt. You see, many pop culture stories focus on the alien invasion rather than the aliens and their home planet (with some exceptions, such as Avatar, although we’re the invading aliens in that one). The books I am currently reading try and address why certain aliens look and act the way they do. That, more than anything, fascinates me, and that’s what I want people to focus on during this exercise.
Take a famous alien–Roswell grays, humanoids, reptilians, Kelly little green men–and jot down some physical characteristics reported about these species. Once you have these physical attributes, imagine the sort of planet these aliens must come from. Why did they adapt such traits as enormous eyes and gray skin? What do their civilizations look like? How do they communicate? Do they compete with other creatures on their home planet? All animals, humans included, look and act the way they do as a result of evolution; what conditions did these aliens have to work with in order to necessitate their evolution?
If you want to make this exercise a little more thorough, think about the aliens’ initial encounter with Earth. Why did they come here? How? What do they think of the planet and the beings that live on it?
With this information, write a short story or, if you want a bigger challenge, a field report about the aliens which incorporates some or all of the origin theories you listed in the first part of the prompt.
If nothing else, this prompt will help you develop world-building skills and character development. You’ll really get to know your alien buddies in this exercise, which you should do with all major characters in your stories. It might take a little time but it’ll enrich your stories in the end.
Did you come up with something particularly interesting? Encounter any unusual problems? Have an idea for a future writing prompt? Leave your thoughts on this prompt in the comments below.