Making Monsters

I’m delighted to share with you a guest blog post I wrote for http://www.writingbad.org. This is part of my Fantasy Friday series (though please forgive it going live on Monday!).

Fantasy is a genre rich with imagined creatures and beasts. Creations which haunt our dreams and make us walk that little bit faster after dark. This article first looks at a few of the more common monsters and then explores some methods to assist you in becoming the next Dr. Frankenstein.

Thank you, Sam, from Writing Bad for letting me loose! I hope you enjoy it.


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The fantasy genre is rich with imagined monsters, creatures, and beasts. Creations which haunt our dreams and make us walk that little bit faster after dark. This article will first look at a few of the more common monsters, and then will explore the methods to assist you in becoming the next Dr. Frankenstein.

Types of Monsters

Demons

Cthulhu_by_disse86-d9tq84iDemons are probably one of the most common types of monster I come across in fantasy. They feature in James Barclay’s Noonshade, quite heavily in Raymond Feist’s Riftwar Saga. H.P. Lovecraft had his famous demon, Cthulhu, and Tolkien his demon, Balrog. But what is a demon exactly? Let’s have a look at some of the most common tropes:

  • They are inherently associated with evil. Their desire is to break into our realm from whatever plane they come from and wreak havoc on life as we know it.
  • In terms of…

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Prose: The Controversial Flashback

Why the hostility toward flashbacks? If done well, they work. But done badly, they break the reader’s experience, preventing them from discovering what happens next in the story. To quote editor, Sol Stein, “If we are enthralled, we don’t want to be interrupted.” The trick, therefore, if you feel compelled to use one, is to use the flashback in as little a disruptive way as possible. Here are a few techniques to help you do that.

Stopping the Reader’s Heart: Creating Tension

Can you think of a moment in a novel or story when you lost all awareness of your surroundings? The only thing that mattered was happening on the page, and then at the end, you come up for air and utter a “fuck.”

The end of another year…

In June I began this blog with a post on the writing process. I was always a bit apprehensive about starting a blog. What have I got of worth to give to the world? I managed to shake that niggling thought.

Prose: “Tell me, and I’ll forget.” Showing Instead of Telling

In his book, On Writing, Sol Stein provides a very helpful guide on something writers so often hear about: showing the story instead of telling it. Do you remember asking someone, a family member perhaps, to tell you a story? It's almost as if we've been conditioned to tell rather than show.

The Writer’s Shop Window

If a reader wants to learn more about you and your writing the first thing they’re going to look for is your website. Like looking through a shop window, if they see something which intrigues them, they may step inside and buy something. In not having a website you’re missing out on precious opportunities to connect with potential followers. This article first looks at how to make a site, what it ought to feature, before finishing with a discussion about blogging

The Many Sub-Genres of Fantasy

In identifying your sub-genre you can better target your readers as well as the types of publishers that look for that type of tale. Not only that, it’ll help to make useful comparisons to other, well-known books in that sub-genre which may, with luck, help you sell more!

A Fantasy Writer’s Guide to … Castles and Keeps: Part II

If you’d like more writing tips  like this, why not join my writing community? Everyone receives a free ebook on the craft of writing, lists of publishers of short and long fantasy fiction, and a list of over 100 fantasy book reviewers. All you need to do is complete the form below!   The medieval… Continue reading A Fantasy Writer’s Guide to … Castles and Keeps: Part II

Real Writing Stories #3: My Writing Day – Caroline Barden

Real Writing Stories returns with a fresh instalment. Continuing with the series My Writing Day, I'm delighted to introduce friend and fellow writer, Caroline Barden. Caroline is a writer and professional proof-reader. Her work has featured in The Guardian newspaper and recently she was victorious in the Writing on the Wall flash fiction competition. If… Continue reading Real Writing Stories #3: My Writing Day – Caroline Barden

A Fantasy Writer’s Guide to … Castles and Keeps: Part I

We've lost more than we know, but what we have retained has inspired some, if not all, of the greatest fantasy stories in one way or another. Taking the time to do a bit of research on what you're writing about will empower your storytelling and, hopefully, enthral your readers. Today we're besieging the fortifications which dominated the Middle Ages, and of course which feature in our beloved fantasy genre.