(image link: shirt.woot.com)Almost Human
While many genres have only humans in them, there are some that do not. In fact, the main characters in genres such as fantasy aren't always human even though they can have human like qualities. But one problem that surfaces when writing stories with any kind of non-human is finding the right term to call them. A few questions come to mind at once?
What do others call the characters? (humans and other non-humans)
What do the characters call themselves?
Do you, the author, make up a species?
Or, do you use species already known in fiction.
Examples of common used non-humans are: elves, mermaids, faeries, vampires, zombies, demons, angels, aliens, dwarves, trolls, gremlins, werewolves, etc.
In the epic fantasy novel I'm writing, the species names were easy. Two of the main characters are elves, from different locations and a slightly different kind, and then there is a dwarf. I don't have to worry too much about making up something because it's acceptable for different authors to use those species in novels. Sure, they still have to make them as their own and character development is important, but they can still be called elves.
The world I'm trying to build for a fantasy novel, the one that this blog series was originally set up for, is one I haven't figured out names for yet either. The one character is human but the other is a type of elemental fae. Right now I am comfortable with wood fae or wood faerie but we'll see as I develop the world for the story.
Demon/Angel was also easy because there are humans, demons and angels. Pretty straightforward.
However, I have had trouble in different sci-fi/fantasy type series. With both series, I have a question going on right now whether or not I should call the not quite human characters. The problem some have seen is the fact that with how it is now, the stories instantly remind readers of X-Men because the characters are called mutants.
So, I have been considering whether or not I should change the term from "mutant" to something else. I did come up with something I could use but I also decided that I wouldn't make any changes right now. When I'm submitting it seems like an issue or if I'm asked to find a different term than "mutant" I will be ready. For now, Noah, Ephram, Dominic, and all the others are going to be called mutants.
Do you have non-human characters?
Are they main characters?
Do you create species names for non-humans or use ones already created?