Hello everyone. Since Halloween is almost upon us, and Stranger Things season 2 is with us, I thought I’d talk a bit about monsters. Or more specifically my favourite monsters in fiction, how I like to use them and my thought process when I create them. So firstly, here are my top three, well known, archetypes of monster. Ones that I have used in many stories, and will continue doing so.
The werewolf is by far my favourite of the monsters (partly because of my slight obsession with wolves). A werewolf is probably the most bestial of the monsters. It feasts on flesh and searches for humans to turn into its pack. It hunts through forests and cities alike and is a force to be reckoned with in any situation. They make an ideal antagonist, due to the challenge that they impose, but also an ideal protagonist, with its struggle for control over the full moon. The werewolf is not to be confused with the Lycan. The werewolf cannot control its transformation when the full moon comes, but the Lycan can control its transformation where and when it pleases.
The vampire is a close second favourite of mine, following a love of the Blade, Underworld and 30 days of night movies. Also, the True Blood series. I think that the before mentioned media portrayed the monsters well, in a sense that they are creatures with an indomitable thirst for blood. They are often portrayed as monsters with a human façade, only showing their true form when the thirst overcomes them. Although I do believe that they make great protagonists, I often like to use them as antagonists. This is due to my preference of making them seem more bestial in nature and appearance (like those of 30 days of night).
This is probably one of the lesser known of the monsters, but still a great one. Like the other two above, they are humanoid, but they never leave their bestial form or nature. They were, however, once human entirely. From developing cannibalistic tendencies, and feasting upon human flesh, they have taken on the appearance of a creature. They now wonder the woods, stalking prey and feasting on flesh. It would be interesting to see a Wendigo used as a protagonist, as according to lore, they don’t speak, but can mimic other’s voices. As an antagonist, I would use them in groups, as they don’t often wield the power of werewolf or vampire.
How are monsters used in stories?
Monsters are generally used as a way to create fear in horror. From their terrifying visage to their thirst and hunger for blood and flesh. They make a great opposition for any protagonist, due to their mystery and the challenge that they can impose. It is only recently that they have become heroes in stories, like the vampire and wolf from Twilight, or the half human half vampire, vampire slayer, Blade. Making the monster a hero is always fun. Because you can create inner conflicts and adjust strengths and weakness easily.
My thought process behind monster creation.
When I create a monster, I think of the following:
- What part does the monster play? Is it the hero of the story, or the opposition? The antagonist or the protagonist? This is probably the best starting point, as it could affect the appearance or nature of the monster. For example, you don’t want your hero appearing more monstrous than their opponent.
- If the monster is used to create fear, what are people afraid of? A monster that creates fear has been the staple of many horror stories, and most of the time, they play on actual human fears. A prime and relevant example of this is Steven Kings It. It uses the clown, Pennywise, to play on the common human fear of clowns. If you use something that people are already afraid of, your character or monster is already halfway there.
- Does it need to speak? This may seem like an obvious one, but does the monster really need to create a dialogue. For me, a monster that does not speak is the scariest. They cannot communicate and therefore, cannot be reasoned with. They announce their self in growls and scraping claws, or they (more creepily) move in complete silence.
- And finally, has it been done before? There are so many monsters out there, from myths and legends to fiction, that an original idea might be difficult. What I like to do is take one of these creatures and put a strange twist on it. Mess up its lore a bit, and come up with something new. We’re writers, after all, we have the power to create anything that our minds can.
I hope that you all enjoyed this or maybe had it inspire your Halloween tales in some way. Halloween is one of my favourite times of the year, and it fuels me with so much writing inspiration. I have my three days of horror coming to you, starting on Sunday!
Thank you all for reading!