from Joe Alterio's Robots and Monsters gallery
- I love to read sci fi, fantasy, and horror, but I've never tried to write it. Why not?
- I want to start writing more magical realism.
- I think challenging myself to explore a new genre is a good thing.
So, what have I learned so far? Genre-jumping is hard. The first class assignment was to answer some in-depth questions about "your monster"... but I don't have a work-in-progress with a monster yet. The students around me immediately started writing about dragons and vampires and necromancers who trail ghosts behind them and a leviathan with a 6-chambered heart... and I was just sitting there thinking, dang I am out of my league.
But that's the point of pushing yourself, right? Finally an idea hit me from something my husband and I said years ago about the devil, and I came up with a "monster." I'm still more in the magical realism arena than in true speculative fiction territory, so I'm working with a real animal rather than a fantastical one, but this is still the first time that I've ever tried to get into the head of any character other than a contemporary human. And it's extremely cool. I might even have a short story idea building out of this.
Yesterday was all about character-building. Often writers get caught up in a good character idea and start writing before they've fleshed everything out, and then end up stuck, or worse, end up finishing a book without realizing that they've left out important things like where these characters get their money, how do they eat, and what happened to their families. Here are some questions to consider when creating your characters:
- Is your monster male/female/both/neither?
- What are its fears and desires? Is it good, or evil, or in-between?
- Was it born a monster or become one? If it became one, when? How old is it? Is it mortal or immortal? If immortal, does it age at all?
- What does it look like? How is it like/unlike a human? What powers does it have? How does its appearance change when it uses those powers or experiences emotion?
- Housing: it is a posh monster who decorates elaborately, or is it a hole-in-the-ground kind of guy?
- Does it have any particularly fond or terrible memories about its life before it was a monster, or about being a monster? Does it have parents, a spouse, children, or an unrequited love?
- When and where does it live now? Our world and time or another?
- Is it a solitary creature or does it crave company? Who does it like and/or trust? If if prefers groups, what is the hierarchy of that group, what are the rules, what are the consequences of disobeying?
Next week we'll be getting more into monster psychology. Can't wait.
DO YOU WRITE ABOUT MONSTERS? Tell us a little about them.