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I have this world I'm building that I want to write a story on, but there's absolutely nothing human in the world. It's entirely built around elemental creatures including the protagonist.

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Absolutely.

The trick is making your characters relatable. If I don't feel a connection with the main character, I'm less likely to continue reading. Naturally, having a protagonist who's nonhuman can make them seem more distant to the reader, so you may have to work harder by giving your protagonist a more complex personality. If I can relate to their personality, that's much more important than if I'm familiar with their form/appearance.

That being said, I'm almost guaranteed I'd be unable to feel any kind of connection to Bob, a highly sentient rock, no matter how bubbly his personality may be. So long as you don't make your protagonist too foreign a being, I don't see them being nonhuman becoming a problem.

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I mixed up your question with another question about comics that was listed above it on the front page. Regardless, the essence of my answer still applies to your question. There is no difference between comics and other narrative works in this respect. Novels without human protagonists include Animal Farm by George Orwell, Watership Down by Richard Adams, Redwall by Brian Jacques – all with animal protagonists – and Nightfall by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg, The Crucible of Time by John Brunner, Saturn's Children by Charles Stross and many, many others – about aliens.


There are many comics without human characters, such as Age of Reptiles by Ricardo Delgado, or large parts of Alpha by Jens Harder and La Cage by Martin Vaughn-James.

While some, such as Age of Reptiles, tell the stories of non-human characters – animals, mostly, but also aliens or creatures from folklore or fantasy – and give them a personality, often similar to human traits, others, like Alpha, which illustrates the history of Earth, narrate events that take place without the participation of sentient or near-sentient beings or communicate information.

The first group, with non-human (almost) sentient beings, largly works like stories about humans. You have a protagonist who has a goal for which he fights against obstacles and adversaries. As a writer, you approach these like you would any kind of story about men, women or children.

The second group are often non-fiction comics, even if their contents are made up, and work much like non-fiction books do: information is structured and presented, only in images instead of (only) words. Non-fiction comics range from illustrated instruction manuals to teaching science and promoting political propaganda.

In your case, a comic about non-human alien creatures is no different from a comic about a foreign human culture on Earth.

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Yes, of course you can.

See also Writing a novel, can I do [this or that]?

You won't be the first to write a novel without humans, either. For example, The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov takes place on another planet and all the characters are extraterrestrials native to the place, no human in sight. The main protagonists are a married threesome of three different sexes, something quite bizarre to the species of Earth.

Or consider the Silmarillion - humans do eventually enter the scene but there's no rush for them to do so, they only first appear about halfway through Quenta Silmarillion, and go unmentioned in a handful of stories after that again. Similar for the Hobbit - there's the hobbit, dwarves, elves, goblins... first time you meet any humans is fairly near the end. (For all I know Gandalf might have been originally meant to be human, but the rest of Tolkien's works makes it very clear he's even farther from that than the others.)

And I'm sure you've read stories that only ever had animals for protagonists, too, with varying levels of anthropomorphism, including some where the animals really acted like animals.

You still need to make the story relatable for your readers, who presumably will be human - but your readers are able to relate to non-human characters.

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  • Only half of The Gods Themselves is in the foreign universe. A very large part of it takes place in our universe.
    – JRE
    Commented Jan 19 at 9:07
  • @JRE Please refrain from making trivial changes to style that don't actually improve anything. Editing other people's posts is intrusive and shouldn't be done without any reason at all.
    – Divizna
    Commented Jan 19 at 11:27
  • How about making your post look like you actually care about writing? The names of books belong in italics. It is generally incorrect to begin a sentence with a conjunction - the exceptions are very rare. The ellipsis does not take the place of a comma or of "etcetera."
    – JRE
    Commented Jan 19 at 11:31
  • I do not consider an incoherent collage of single sentences the mark of good writing.
    – Divizna
    Commented Jan 19 at 11:52
  • String sentences together conjunctions isn't a mark of good writing, either. If you must join them, do it properly.
    – JRE
    Commented Jan 19 at 13:32

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