Creating an Alien Race

How to Create an Alien Race

One of the things I enjoy most about writing science fiction stories is creating a new race of alien. It is one of the most creative, rewarding, and fun parts of writing a science fiction story. While thinking up the story line, I often begin developing an alien race in my mind to go along with the story. Later, as I am getting ready to write, I like to build off of the ideas i developed and create a very well thought-out race.

I find it's much easier to write with them and much more productive to the story when I have taken the time to think up a history for the race, maybe for their planet, how they became the way they are and major happenings on their planets. Sometimes, I take it so far as to even make their own holidays. Things like that can really help out your story in the long run. I find that developing the race's history is one of the most necessary parts of creating them. Sometimes I go so far back to the period when they were in their own dark ages, up to the point they first achieved space travel.

It is always important to think up more than just the basics like what they look like or if they are hostile or peaceful. Your story will be so much better if you explain why they are peaceful or why they are hostile. You have to ask yourself questions like, what do they breathe? Or what kind of planet can they live on? Perhaps they need the cold to survive or perhaps they live on gas giants. What do they eat? How far along is their technology? Have they recently achieved space flight or are they an advanced race that has been colonizing space for hundreds of years? Creating answers to these questions will really help you out along the way while creating your story.

When creating an alien species for your story, there are just so many different things that you can cover; some of them are more important than others, but in order to get the full experience I try to cover almost everything I can think of, even if sometimes it's not important to the story. I do it because it's fun and as I said earlier, it is just one of my favorite parts of writing a story.

During the time I've been doing creative writing, I have found various ways to help with this process. The first and most obvious thing is to read other science fiction books. Don't steal ideas but instead let them inspire you and put you in a creative mood. I love reading science fiction and I often find myself inspired by the creativity of some of the races i find in the stories.

The next way is more of a set of guidelines, a race template. Write out a template for your race and fill it in. The template can cover even basic things like the name of the race, their home planet and go even deeper into what they look like and a race history. Here's an example of what I like to use sometimes, with a race included to fill it out.

Race Name: Kosmicus

Home Planet: Kosmosia

Breathable Atmosphere's: Methane, Carbon Dioxide

Hospitable Environments: Prefer cold temperatures and can live on frozen planets with little light. They cannot survive in temperatures above -10 degrees Fahrenheit. They prefer to live deep inside the ground.

Government Type: They live in separate massive hives all controlled by one Queen in the central hive.

Body Type: Biological, crystalized Ice

Technology Level: The Kosmicus have only been capable of space travel and colonization for a few hundred years making their level of technology still fairly unadvanced, though their intelligence is dependent upon their queen's intelligence.

Race Description: The Kosmicus have four tripod like legs which they can stand on and two arms with opposable digits. Their bodies are long and slender and when standing, they can reach up to eight feet in height. They have no necks, so their heads are directly attached to their bodies. They have a long snout extending from their heads but have no eyes or ears. Their entire body is covered with a light blue skin. The skin on their torsos is see-through, allowing one to see the organs inside as well as a layer of shell-like protective crystallized ice. The shell of ice extends of their heads and snounts and even runs down their arms legs and digits. There bone is comprised of the crystallized ice as well.

Race History and Bio: The Kosmicus originated from the planet Kosmosia, a frozen planet that sits light years away from a small red dwarf star in a solar system filled with ice covered planets in danger of being smashed by the massive floating chunks of ice that fill that solar system. The kosmicus started out as a non sentient race that spent most of their lives collecting food from deep within the planet to feed their queen. Over the course of their existence they began to develop higher brain functions and the queen finally began to become sentient. Thousands of years later the species had developed a high level of intelligence and because they were all unified by one queen, they outgrew what is considered to be their dark age quickly. The species lives still mainly existed to serve their queen who would allow them only the intelligence they needed to serve her, though their service now included more than just feeding her and mating with her. The Kosmicus queen can live up to 300 years though, if she gives birth to another with her abilities to control the hive, she will be killed by her offspring and the new queen will take her place.

The Kosmicus have no eyes or ears so they communicate through smell. Their bodies will release chemicals into the air when they wish to communicate. Their large snouts are capable of picking up scents and individually distiniguish them from miles away. The queen's brain has an extrasensory ability which she uses to implant commands into the brains of the hive rather than communication through smell.

The Komiscus achieved space travel only a few hundred years ago by using the various gas resources on their planets and the hard frozen materials, though they were limited to how far they could go because of their intolerance to heat. This was overcome a hundred years later when they discovered minerals on nearby asteroids that were not comprised of ice but instead were comprised of a hard diamond like material. Only two hundred years ago, they began colonizing nearby planets that were like their own. They have not ventured out of their solar system yet. They are unaware of other sentient beings.

Seems a little bit like a template you may find on a game, but using these guidelines you can create a brilliant alien race. Even if you do just add a short history like the one above, it can still be important to the story. Remember, thinking outside the box is the key and don't be afraid to take it too far. Creating your own alien races will ultimately be rewarding and fun.

Comments 9 comments

ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

Hi Matt...Thanks for providing this information. I sometimes have difficulty writing much past what I know and rarely (even after the wildest of parties) do I encounter alien races with which to draw source material.

Your template will come in handy! Voted Up, useful and interesting.

QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 5 years ago

You have done a great job trying to fuel the minds of new writers who may be trying to learn about this genre.

Luna 369 4 years ago

Your ideas are very creative. Did you write a story with Kosmicus?

Scott 4 years ago

Thank you for posting this us has given me that extra push I need to properly formulate a story set in space.

Lucas 4 years ago

can you please make another template like this with a new race and if you can draw the kosmicus, it would be really cool

kl;klk 3 years ago


Tyler 3 years ago



Breathable atmospheres:Do not need to breathe

Hospitable environments:Tropical Jungles,underground,anywhere with liquid sulfer.

Government: Hives, when a queen dies the drones organize a pit fight, royal females battle to the death, the queen is the victor.

Body type:Biological, amphibious humanoids.

Technology level: Primal. Mostly stone tools.

Race description:Humanoid about 5 ft. 9. They stand hunchbacked, skinny with rubbery skin. A dark, almost black indigo. They have three webbed claws and two webbed talons. They have reptile-like ear holes. They have no noses. They had two large eyes and two small eyes but their eyes disappeared with evolution leaving them blind. They have crab-like quad-mandibles. They use echolocation and communicate through hisses and snarls. Their blood is light blue and instead of a skeleton they have a network of boney plates under their skin. They have two hearts. They drink a large amount of liquid sulfer and must keep their skin wet most of the day.

Race history and bio:Once a thriving civilization full of technology far beyond human understanding. They lived on the planet Chodan, a planet full of jungles of glowing plants and large trees with purple and blue leaves. The planet had many pools of liquid sulfer both above and below ground. The sun reached the end of its lifespan. The Chodanian space ports pulled the planet away from the sun but the supernova blast destroyed the planets ozone layer. The planet floated it the orbit of the Quintillia beta solar system. With the destruction of the ozone layer, the planet was filled with deadly radiation. The Chodanians fled underground. The once proud civilization devolved into primitive, blind, cave dwellers.

Chimera 3 years ago


Jonathan35 2 years ago

i have even started my own story thanks so much

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