Searched through questions, googled around, and couldn't find anything helpful so here I am.

I am trying to find an interesting way to write out the thought patterns of an alien species that's primary language is in color. In the same vein of "What should I have for breakfast? She thought." But obviously indicative of alien consciousness.

The difficulty that I am facing is making this thought pattern distinct enough that I am not resorting to using (in totality) an English phrasing and coupling, but instead depicting it visually and succinctly. But I'm coming up with blanks. Simply writing "Blue blue yellow stripe rainbow explosion" feels one-note and also is just a pain to read. No intrigue, and I certainly wouldn't want to read it. It limits both myself and the reader for envisioning alien thought.

A thing to note is that these thoughts are being directed towards the main character, who is linked to the alien and expected to find a vacant meat-mecha type situation here. These thoughts are directed towards her at their first test connection and are confusing but distinctive from her own.

How do I show case their differences in thought without sacrificing the readability of the story? and how do I make these thoughts readable but still foreign?

Apologies if I've missed anything, and feel free to ask clarifying questions. It's still a bit out of my comfort zone using a forum-like website and while I'm used to Worldbuilding (who suggested I come here instead) this is a bit new to me.

Thank you in advance!

  • Maybe reading about the experience of people with synesthesia might help. There are different kinds of synesthesia, but some of them involve experiencing colors when hearing sounds, or seeing numbers or words.
    – user54131
    Mar 12, 2022 at 19:10

2 Answers 2


One good solution that I have found was in Brandon Sanderson's work on Stormlight Archive where a non-human species speaks musically and they have different melodies for different emotions.

So, for example this sentence: "Nobody knows," she said to derision. (derision being a type of melody)

Means that she is speaking conspiratorially and not just a regular discussion with someone. You could maybe do the same thing with colors by defining how some colors depict specific things in this alien society and let them read in english and just flourish their communication with the color to give more subtext to the conversation.

It's very satisfying for a reader to have a deeper understanding of a conversation than just reading on and on. Doing it that way means you do not sacrifice the readability of the conversation.


Your creature’s thoughts or dialogue or whatever needs to be represented in English or at least a recognizable patios. Otherwise it won’t make sense in the story.

To establish the alien-ness of your character’s expression, imagine this creatures culture. It doesn’t matter if the wee-beastie is an engineered life or a naturally evolve species, it has something appropriating culture. And, culture determine language. Its culture will determine the sapient’s idiom, how it weighs priorities, and how it expresses its values.

So make a list of the things that define the being’s culture, and using its values and what it associates with good and bad and devise its idioms and figures of speech and its jokes, too.

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