This week: Monster MakerEdited by: LJPC - the tortoise
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“I am able to play monsters well. I understand monsters. I understand madmen.”
~ Anthony Hopkins, actor
“Zombies, vampires, Frankenstein's monster, robots, Wolfman - all of this stuff was really popular in the '50s. Robots are the only one of those make-believe monsters that have become real. They are really in our lives in a meaningful way. That's pretty fascinating to me.”
~ Daniel H. Wilson, NYT bestselling author, TV host, robotics engineer
Villains used to always die in the end. Even the monsters. Frankenstein, Dracula - you'd kill them with a stake. Now the nightmare guy comes back.
~ Benicio Del Toro, actor
I don't have any illusion that The Creeper is as popular or will ever be as popular as any of the classic movie monsters, but I think in the heart of every young horror fan is his desire to create his own creature.
~ Victor Salva, director “Powder” and “Jeepers Creepers”
Cliches Aren’t Very Scary
When reading short stories, I’ve come across a large number of unimaginative monsters. There’s a lot of fan-fic out there about vampires and werewolves and other “classic” monsters. But I want writers to dig deeper and come up with more unusual things.
How many times have you read these monster descriptions?
Long, forked tongue
I’ve read these descriptions a hundred times.
You can do better!
Here are some excellent examples of
imaginative, blood-curdling monsters:
How to Make a Monster
Make lists of possible choices. For example:
Skull shape: pear, triangular, box, or round with a hole in the center.
Eyes: 1-eye through 8-eyes, eyes at the end of stalks, or no eyes and uses antennae to “see” like ants.
Body: multiple arms, multiple legs, skin like splintered wood, angular bones like fractured glass, body covered by metallic implants/tattoos, or hinged steel steampunk appendages.
Non-symmetrical: Put limbs, head, facial features in the wrong places.
Movement: The creature can crawl up walls like a spider, ooze under doors like the blob, or fold-up like origami. He can be two-dimensional -- when he turns sideways, he disappears!
You don’t have to go crazy with every single feature. Sometimes one change (like nails in the head! ), is enough. Although the Alien creature goes through three metamorphoses and practically everything changes at some point!
Put these lists into columns, and then throw darts at them or put them in a tumbler like with bingo. Just mix and match until you find something that scares you. (These mix-and-match lists can work for Fantasy writers, too. Does everything have to be medieval and Tolkien-esque? Try something new!)
The point is: Make your monster one of a kind -- make him unforgettable!
Until next time: Let the horror bleed onto the pages with every word!
Here are some spooky stories for your reading pleasure!
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Your full time Horror Newsletter Editors:
Brooke - Working my way back Kate ~ Midsummer Night Rune billwilcox
and LJPC - the tortoise .
To my delight, some writers took the time to comment on my last newsletter: "Conflict Makes Great Characters" Thank you!
Comments listed in the order they were received.
9 years whew! writes: Thank you for this outline of Characterisation. I needed it as I have a good story, but no character depth. I am struggling to find my character's why that doesn't sound whimpy or "so what?"
Finding character motivation is always hard. I hope some of the examples I gave in the NL helped you!
Vampyr14 writes: Excellent post! I read too many stories missing either the inner or the outer conflict. It makes it hard to stay engaged with the character and their problems.
Very good point! Characters with no depth can be boring. Thanks for writing to the newsletter!
BIG BAD WOLF submits "Anthros Versus Zombies" and writes: Watch out for zombies; they'll eat your heart out, along with your brains.
Uh-oh! I need my heart as well as my brains!
blue jellybaby writes: Thanks for a great newsletter and the mention too. This theme came at a great time for me when I wanted to work on edits for a novella, specifically on the characterisation. It helped me realise a few things!
I’m so glad if I helped you! That’s why I write these newsletters.
C.Evil writes: Thanks for the great newsletter. I agree with you, a character needs substance or else their actions could confuse the reader. The character acts in a way that makes you stop and think, where did that come from? Your newsletters are always great and pact with awesome tips for us horror writers.
Thank you so much. It means a lot to me that you find things to help you in my newsletters!
Ida_Matilda_Wright Help writes: I am going to copy this page to help me with my writing my "novels". I love the information that you have provided. I will read and review from the highlighted items.
I’m so happy to help! Thanks for replying to the newsletter!
billwilcox writes: I loved this. Great job!
Thanks Bill! Your Horror NLs are always great, too!
Missy ~ Back To Basics writes: Thanks for featuring one of my stories in your newsletter. As usual, you've given a lot of great information to your readers and broke it down very nicely.
You're welcome! Thanks so much for your kind words!
Taniuska writes: Thanks for another thought-provoking newsletter. Conflict is like the motor of you plot. External conflict creates paths, and internal conflict is how the character decides what they'll do.
I love the simile “conflict is like the motor of the plot” -- that’s perfect!
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