The bizarre dilemmas that come up when writing from the viewpoints of characters from other planets:
1. When you’re looking for a synonym for “dark brown,” you discover that all of them are utterly useless, as an alien likely won’t be thinking in terms of chocolate, coffee, liver, or any other familiar foodstuff. Not unless they’ve been hanging round Earth far too long.
2. Dodge trying to find a non-exhausted metaphor for “ink blot” by spending ten minutes hunting down Moby’s song “Very” online. (Project Playlist doesn’t have it anymore, the buggers. How dare they do this to me?!.) Then return to wondering if your aliens would think in terms of ink blots, seeing as how they do in fact have ink…
3. But not sandwiches. A sandwich is a foodstuff most useful to beings with hands and opposable thumbs. Equines, not so much. And “sandwiched between” is an even more exhausted metaphor than “ink blot” anyway.
4. Just when I think I’m going to have to resort to “[that one dude], [dude 2], and [dude 3],” the final three characters, who have been eluding me for over ten fucking years, show up and fit themselves into place like straggling choir members arriving two seconds before the performance begins. The audience will likely think they were there the entire damned time.
5. Spend several moments sounding out the new names and trying to figure out how to spell them so that they a) don’t look dorky and b) the reader can hopefully pronounce them. Sigh. Hope for the best and expect the worst: after all, people still can’t pronounce Aes Sedai, even though Robert Jordan has the phonetic spellings in the back of every damned book. “A’s Seddy” indeed. (It’s eyes suh–die, people, come the fuck on.)
I haven’t even gone into the minor catastrophe looming when I realized I’d fucked up everybody’s position in the line at the beginning of the story, or the difficulty of writing dialogue without using contractions (try making it sound natural, I double-dog dare you), or trying to think like a smartass sentient equine, but you get the picture.
The point is to make the final product look absolutely effortless. That’s the beginning and end of writing. Think of it this way: the first draft is an abattoir of a crime scene. The final draft should take a forensic technician with a tank of Luminol to find the blood spatter, and even then, they’d better have to rip up the floorboards to get to it.
I’m going to need a bigger bucket of bleach and a truckload of sponges, but we’ll get there. I’ll have those fuckers using microscopes.