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Question
I am trying to write an apocalyptic story through the eyes of a non-human character. The problem I am running into is a concern for my audience. I am wondering if I should adapt the story to appease my audience by opting towards a more humanistic main character or if I should stick to my imagination's depiction of a more non-human one.

My question is: If audiences prefer human characters vs non-human characters, then what would be a good method to cheat their investment towards my story without upsetting them after the reveal?

Answer
Hi Jim!

This is a very interesting and very relevant question for creative writers.  We want novelty, or originality, in our stories, we want a unique nuance to our characters, settings or plots... but at the same time, there are certain things that demonstrable draw audiences in and certain things that disinterest them.  The ability to, at least on some level, connect with the main character is vital.  But how does one remain authentic to the story and its characters and balance that with creating an appealing story and characters?

There are many strategies you can take, some better than others, but this is my personal one: create the character any YOU want.  As writers we derive motivation not from the notion that our stories will please others, but just in the act of writing, in the act of creation.  So do that first.  Stick to your imagination's depiction, as you put it.  Get that character down, even if it's only in note form or visual form, first.  Then, once you feel that's complete, let it sit for awhile and come back to it.  As you are looking at or reading about your character, ask yourself a simple question: "Do I CARE about this character?"

Really, that's all it boils down to.  Does your audience care about this character?  They do not need to like the character, or fully understand the character, or even connect with the character.  Heck, audiences can hate the character, or be perplexed by the character, or be offended, it doesn't matter.  They just need to care about him or her.

It is probably true that audiences have an easier time connecting with characters that are more human in both appearance and behavior.  A lot of films will take this route when creating fictitous worlds.  I'm not saying it's a bad route to go, but I will say it's kind of a cop out.  It takes a lot more finesse and nuance to be able to create something that we shouldn't care about, but we do.  If you're up for the challenge, I say go for it.  If not, go ahead and make your character a little more human, that's fine too.  Just remember that golden rule: do I care about this character?

Good luck!

Creative Writing

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Brian Connelly

Expertise

I can answer questions about how to start writing creatively, how to keep motivated to finish a creative writing project or write creatively on a consistent basis, how to come up with creative writing ideas and how to improve creative writing in general.

Experience

My university major was English literature, and I've been a (mostly) amateur writer for about 20 years.

Publications
Quill Books Poetry Anthology Local Alaskan newspaper

Education/Credentials
Bachelor's in English Literature (North Carolina State University)

Awards and Honors
Editor's choice award for one short story and one poem Three published poems in national anthologies

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