It seems a simple enough question,

  • Some of the main characters in Tom Robbins' Skinny Legs and All, (one of my favorite novels) are Can o' Beans, Dirty Sock, and Painted Stick. So yes, one can write a story using inanimate characters. Not just anybody can do it well, though. I know I couldn't. – Ken Mohnkern Jun 1 '17 at 13:30
  • It seems you're looking for a yes/no answer. Could you rephrase your question to be more clear what you're trying to find out? – Ken Mohnkern Jun 1 '17 at 13:32
  • "Can you write a story using inanimate characters?" Of course, you can, you are the writer. You can write the story about anything. I might disagree with your categorization--AI is only technically an inanimate entity (while the physical device cannot move, the system can act very well, according to your synopsis), but the sky is the limit. – Lew Jun 1 '17 at 13:41
  • Yes. Look up Larry Niven's stories of the grogs, such as The Handicapped – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Jun 1 '17 at 16:49
  • Despite the question in the title, this is a question about a single story, unlikely to help future visitors. The body of the question is also, essentially, asking about what to write. I'm very unclear on what it is you're actually asking, but I think you're looking to discuss this story idea. That's cool and it's a great way to work out a story idea, but it's also something that'd be better off asked in chat or in a conventional discussion forum. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Jun 1 '17 at 16:53

Can you? Of course; you just did. Your characters, I might point out, are not inaminate. They are alive. They have thought, opinion, and agency. They may be made of silicon, but they are not "inanimate."

Someone on this board recommended a story told from the viewpoint of a sentient pregnancy test. Anything is possible with the right execution.

| improve this answer | |
  • Yes this - I think this story could be an interesting take on blurring the line between "animate" and "inanimate". Our machines are typically considered inanimate because they just follow our construction/programming. But as our programming becomes more complex we might start to wonder where that line is. Is sentience - animacy - an emergent property that we could replicate with programming? The SkyNet's the limit. – Michael Jun 1 '17 at 13:59

Russell Hoban's underappreciated novel Kleinzeit features a large cast of unusual characters, including a fair number of inanimate objects, such as "The Paper" and "The Hospital." However, they are all anthropomorphized --they speak and act like human beings. Similarly, your own example stretches the definition of inanimate --a sentient artificial intelligence may not technically be "animate," but it certainly isn't even an unusual character for a science-fiction book.

A work centering entirely around a cast of non-animate, non-sentient objects would be a challenge to pull off, because they don't have any agency or capacity for change. However, never say never: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdIJOE9jNcM (Wikipedia: Lamp)

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.