A good way to build up a well rounded character is to show them reacting to something mundane like a sunset or a sunrise. Are they completely unmoved? Are they uplifted? Do they seek interactions with others as a result or enter into introspection? Something as simple as the light off of the clouds can reveal quite a bit about a character without being overbearing or over wordy..
"They can smell dangerous heat."
The simple statement carried no context and Ch'rill curled his secondary legs up underneath him in frustration. Not because he didn't understand Quilx'tch. Far from it. The bizarre situation their expedition had found them selves in provided constant context. 'They' meant the strange biped giants and no amount of utter grammatical absurdity was cause enough to say that such an utterly ridiculous statement was false.
"I think that you should give me more details nutritionist," Ch'rill stated calmly.
After the incident with the 'snow' and the nearly miraculous preservation of the exploration team due to the 'warm blooded' nature of the bipeds Ch'rill wouldn't directly question Quilx'tch's sanity if he said that a paron beast of legend was politely asking to borrow a cup of nin juice.
"Yes," Quilx'tch visibly shook out his feet as if he was clearing his mind and stiffened to a more rigid posture of attention. "One of the bipeds, the one called Tom, discovered that the third coil on the dorsal ridge of Twitch team's hovercraft was overheating and warned us of the danger."
Ch'rill had never before this expedition wished he was less educated. If he were a happily ignorant brat of some royal family, given his position based on his parents' wealth rather than the years of effort he had put in, he might not know how utterly impossible that statement was. He curled his legs again and forced himself to relax and focus on the obvious problem.
"Has the coil been repaired?" Ch'rill asked evenly.
Quilx'tch raised one leg in confirmation. "The technicians saw to that. The biped helped."
"Now," Ch'rill asked patiently. "You day the biped 'smelled dangerous heat'?"
"I don't know how they separated the heat differential from the other temperature differences in the open air!" Quilx'tch said excitedly, scurrying across the room to stand beside the team leader. "But they...he... did! He was just walking past. His eyes weren't even pointed at the craft and you know how important that is for binocular vision species! He just stopped and his head came up - it is so peculiar when they do that and I think it has significance - and he contorted his face and then scouted around until he came to the coils and he hovered his face over it and asked if it was supposed to be that hot!"
"But how did he know that what he sensed was dangerous?" Ch'rill asked sorting through the files on his desk. "Tom is listed as a biologist. He is not supposed to have any specialized mechanical knowledge."
"I know!" Quilx'tch said happily. "I can't wait to learn more about them. Isn't it fascinating?"
Ch'rill let his abdomen sink to the floor with a tiny sound of distress. It was something .... something he was not looking forward to reporting to his superiors.
I do not think that I had quite realized, until I read this post (warning for profanity), how much of the inspiration for the world my book is set in came from my Irish heritage.
A world where things are known but never spoken. A world where we tell our alien friends everything...except the things we don’t tell ourselves. A world where those who know do not release information about the aliens, not because of how the humans might react, but because things other than human might not like it, and you DO NOT offend the fey. It is really two worlds. The one we talk about. Data streams, faster than light travel, understood biological reactions, aliens, and stars. The one we do not speak of. Trees that must never be cut, rocks that must never be moved, that place we don’t go, the times we must be snug in our beds. Things we must say, and not say, when alone in the forest..
And there in the middle of it all, humans.
We smile at the new friends we have made. “Oh, it is nothing, Just a local superstition. What is a superstition? Ah, it is a ... law that has yet to be codified. Yes. That is it. Now I know you wanted to go to that location. It is a *lovely* island, but so very boring. Let's go visit this other place instead.”
Sometimes the aliens wonder about the odd behavior but they have come to accept that humans are just odd in very many ways. And if humans want to keep off-worlders away from a tiny green island in the North. or the wide stretches of tundra in Alaska, or the canyons in the middle of North America...well humans are just like that and why not go someplace more hospitable after all?
Imagine if you will, a species that has no eyes, no face, no ears. They amble along the beds of the shallow oceans of a world with slightly higher gravity than Earth. Color means little to them though they can sort of perceive differences in shade, though no one knows quite how. They are about the size of breadbox when fully grown and tend brown to black. They slightly resemble caterpillars but where a caterpillar has a long body with stubby little legs these aliens are all long undulating legs that drape down to the ground and surround and support the central core body. They feast on the algae that flourishes in their endless tide pools. They grew their spaceships out of sand and reached for the stars that they could hear singing to them in the night. And in that vast reaches they find other species, including a strange species of biped giants.
They are delighted to finally find kindred spirits who enjoy slipping through shallow waters, a species that loves their oceans just as much as they do. But what horror they experience at the thought of oceans miles deep and leagues wide. What amazement they experience to find that these strange biped giants regularly go down into the unfathomable depths just to explore. It is a little frightening. But then again the giants have the perfect sized hands to pet them so who really cares how crazy they are?
As NaNoWriMo looms authors everywhere are lining up their files and preparing to get that fifty-thousand words out. This particular author is gearing up to write words one-hundred-thousand to one-hundred-fifty-thousand of an eighty-thousand word novel. Here hoping to finishing up that story and getting it edited.
By Betty Adams
"So you just eat...anything?" The breadbox sized alien's vocal chords were perhaps the closest to a human's as any of the speaking species they had encountered. They tended to be quieter and pitched lower but the one that Mack had dubbed Threes had learned to "shout" early on and knew how to aim his words in the thin air.
"Well not anything," Mack corrected as he tightened the bolts on the underside of the hover bike he was working on. "There are a lot of chemical compounds that are toxic in plants-"
"Of course there are," Threes said, exasperation tinting his voice. "It does not serve the plants ends for you to devour their photosynthesis surfaces. They pump all sorts of anti-predation compounds into their energy rich biomass!"
Mack heard the rustling that was the Undulates version of footsteps and the human couldn't resist a smile at the image of the giant caterpillar like creature moving across the ground. Fortunately a species that expressed its chosen collective name as a rippling motion along the dreadlock like appendages the seemed to compose the entirety of their bodies that varied from individual to individual as well as from sub-culture to sub-culture didn't mind getting 'named' by the other cultures they met.
"It is far safer to feed on the simpler creatures that the water is practically teaming with!" Threes made his way up onto Mack's chest and Mack absently pushed him to a more comfortable position.
"Maybe safer," Mack agreed as he reached his hand deep into the guts of the machine. "But not as convenient. Not much of the human population lives with enough water to make that a viable option."
Threes clicked in distress and moved up Macks chest to prod gently at his chin with - Mack assumed and hoped - his frontal appendages.
"But how?" Threes demanded.
Mack grunted and gave the hand signal for needing more information. Apparently human fingers were one of the best cross species communication aids that the Undulates had ever discovered.
"Humans like water." Threes explained his query. "I know you don't live in in like we do but you..." Mack assumed Threes was struggling with trying to communicate a complex Undulate word/position to someone who wasn't looking at him. "...you swim and, and I think the closest word is wade, just like we do and it is a valued excersize."
"Yup, We do love our bodies of water," Mack agreed as his hands finally found the loose nut he had been feeling around for. "Personally I grew up near Gitche Gumee. Went swimming a lot as a kid."
"But not everyone is so fortunate?" Threes pressed forward again and Mack shoved him down again.
"Keep down for a while Threes, I gotta get this loose. But yeah, some humans can go their entire life without ever seeing enough standing water to wade in, let along grow enough biomass to feed the population."
"Perhaps it has something to do with your fantastic biomass and nutrient needs," Threes suggested, trying to keep his voice level, but Mack could feel the Undulate shivering at the clearly horrible thought of desert living.
"Well lots of folks even prefer it," Mack said with a grin.
"It certainly explains your dependence on omnivorous," Threes speculated.
"Omnivory," Mack corrected absently. Threes was particular about his languages and like to get it right.
Lens flares can add dramatic effect or specific emotions to visual art.
What written trope/method/technique would be analogous to lens flares? Altering the feel without changing the content?
Betty Adams is an up and coming author with a bent for science and Sci-fi.