Chasing Monsters in Storytelling
Depending on which type of novel you're writing there will be many different monsters you can weave in to make it more interesting monsters, up the danger level, expand the the world building, and even give your hero an interesting pet or companion.
The more unique the monster, the more interesting the journey. Here are a few monsters I've used in past fantasy books and why:
Shadax (Rayna the Dragonslayer): I needed an imposing monster that was unique to the world of fantasy. Initially, I was going to use the mythical Wendigo but I wanted to go a bit further so I incorporated bits and pieces from other monsters, used some imagination, and came up with the Shadax. A massive tree-like creature with long limbs that mimics human voices to lead unsuspecting travelers to their death. They can only be killed by fire.
Zombie Pirates (Demon Hunter: Seek & Destroy): Who doesn't love zombies? Who doesn't love pirates? Put those two things together and you have a scary display. I got the idea of it from seeing a clip out of Pirates of the Caribbean. A group of dead pirates rise out of the water and they start towards the hero. It was one of the scenes I was looking forward to writing.
Dragons (multiple): Dragons are an iconic creature in the realm of fantasy. From Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones and beyond they have been featured prominently. I've used dragons as antagonists in Demon Hunter and as the hero's companion in A Time of Dragons. Either way, writing dragons takes finesse. You don't want them to sound like everyone elses version but you also want to keep the traditionally elements while adding your own ideas. That's where storytelling comes in.
Giant Snake (Demon Hunter): I have an affinity for snakes. I love a giant snake. The first time I saw one was in Conan the Barbarian, still my favorite movie of all time. I was young when I saw the movie and didn't quite grasp how realistic special effects could be. I thought the snake was real! That stuck with me so when I needed a dangerous monster in a cave I went with the Hoop Snake. Basically, a hoop snake consists of a snake grasping its tail in its mouth and rolling after its prey at great speeds, much like a wheel or hula-hoop, hence their name, Hoop snake.
Sirens (Demon Huntress): In a book with a female lead I needed monsters she could fight but would put other characters in peril. Sirens are said to lure men to their death with a song.
Furies (A Time of Dragons): Furies are from Greco-Roman mythology. They were probably personified curses, but possibly they were originally conceived of as ghosts of the murdered. The Furies aren't used alot in fantasy, and when they are you can't really tell they are meant to be Furies. The style of the Furies I liked were represented in the TV series Xena: Warrior Princes. They were a little crazy, but they were a threat using their magic to infiltrate minds. That is what I drew from when creating my Daughters of Chaos in my fantasy adventure series A Time of Dragons.
These are just some examples of the monsters I've used in my fantasy novels. I've also done the tried and true witches, vampires, types of weres and more. But as I said, I try to create unique monsters that haven't been seen before or haven't been used alot.
To be honest, perhaps the biggest monster a writer can face are the ones in their own head! Coming up with monsters can be as close as diving into your darkest fears. George RR Martin wrote a chilling story about a creepy neighbor who winds up having a strange power. If you haven't read The Pear-Shaped Man, do it but beware it will creep you out!
JK Rowling is a master at creating unique creatures for both Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts. One of her creepiest creatures came from a Rowling looking at a rug! That just shows how the imagination of a writer works. It's a combination of creativity and researching myths from across different cultures that creates these creatures.
Do you have a favorite monster that you've read about?
"Original Cyn" Cynthia Vespia writes fantasy novels with bite. This blog is dedicated to all things fantasy and my author journey.