Today I have the privilege of hosting Science Fiction/Fantasy author, Lanie Mores. Lanie also penned the paranormal romance series, Father Of Contention.
Her book, Sea of Forgetfulness, won the Bronze Award in the Fantasy genre category, and Gold for Canada East Region, in the Reader Views Literary Awards!
Today she’s going to give some pointers on how to create monsters for darker tales.
Alright, I’ve prattled long enough, I’ll let Lanie take it from here.
Creating Monsters for Darker Tales
I’d like to thank Mark for inviting me to write a guest post for his blog. Today I’ll be sharing ideas on one of my favorite writing topics…creating monsters for darker tales.
Part of my job as a science fiction and fantasy author is to create blood-curdling, believable monsters to terrorize the characters in my darker tales. Like Dr. Frankenstein stitching together body parts in a lab, I have to piece together the right combination of details to create the perfect monster.
If you’re an author new to the horror, paranormal, thriller, science fiction, or fantasy genres, chances are you’ll be called upon to create creepy characters of your own. Whether it’s a warty witch casting ancient spells, the undead stalking its next meal, aliens abducting humans for research, or artificial intelligence robots taking over the world, your job is to evoke sheer terror in your readers, without regurgitating what’s already out there. So, how do you create monsters so believable that it has your readers checking beneath the bed before going to sleep at night?
Dig into your darker side.
We all have one. It’s there, lurking beneath the veneer of rainbows and unicorns. For some of us, we don’t even have to dig too deep. Raised on sci-fi and horror films, my dark side is quite shallow. I’ve always been drawn to darker tales. Stephen King is my favourite author, after all…and no one does “dark” better than him. Over the years, repeated exposure to many masters of terror has turned me into a monster aficionado. So, I’ve put together a few tips to help you channel YOUR darker side when creating chilling characters for your stories.
Learn what works and what doesn’t work by reading stories that feature monsters. Which storybook characters terrify you the most? What causes your scalp to tighten and goosebumps to sprout on your arms? What physical characteristics repulse you? Slimy, hairy, or scaly skin? Razor sharp teeth, and claws? Analyze what makes these fictional beasts frightening and then incorporate the characteristics into your own antagonists. Gather ideas and then make them your ownScary TV Shows and Movies
2. Scary TV Shows and Movies
Have you ever watched a show that left you feeling creeped out long after it was over? For me, two movies stand out: Triangle and Sinister. The writers succeeded in creating a new brand of terror to sour your stomach…abstract monsters that are uniquely disturbing.
Whereas creating an original monster is ideal, borrowing from the classics is also a valid monster-building technique as long as you give it a new twist. I just watched the Train to Busan, a South Korean zombie film that took the well-known trope and gave it a new look, body mechanics, and venue that succeeds in horrifying its audience. Make good use of your Netflix subscription and binge watch monster flicks. There’s some great inspiration out there, let me tell you. Watch, learn, write.
3. Resource Books
There’s a plethora of resources to hone your writing skills, including books on how to create the perfect monster. One I use often is by Philip Athans, titled Writing Monsters. This comprehensive book tackles every type of scary monster you can think of, analyzes what makes them truly terrifying, and provides tips on making them as believable as possible. An important aspect it highlights is how to give your monster layers. Where do they come from? What drives them to be evil or destructive? What type of feelings do they evoke…fear, repulsion, pity? Is your monster being used as a metaphor for a grander theme? Answering these questions will give your monsters depth and authenticity.
4. Your Greatest Fears
What scares you the most? Is it spiders, ghosts, closed spaces, or the dark? Now isolate that fear, build on it, and apply it to your antagonist. If you fear the dark, maybe your monster only comes out at night, like a vampire or werewolf. If you’re claustrophobic, your monster could torment its victims by locking them in a small dungeon, or by tying them up so they can’t move. If you fear drowning, perhaps your monster lives in a lake, dragging its victims below water.
The list of potential fears is long, but I’m sure you get the picture. When you channel your genuine fears, your monsters will become more realistic and petrifying.
5. Creepy Music
Get into the monster making mood by putting on a creepy playlist. Hit up Spotify or another music streaming app and pick through the many disturbing playlists people have compiled. I have my own playing in the background while writing my creepiest stories. You’ll be surprised how it inspires your mind to dig into your dark side. Just listen to the music from the movie Sinister, for example. You’ll be surprised by the dark thoughts it dredges up, and then once they surface, channel them into your monsters for added layers of terror.
You can read all about the monsters I’ve created in my science fiction and fantasy book series, Father of Contention. There is no shortage of beasts to make your hair stand on end. In the first book, Father of Contention, you’re exposed to the dramatic rantings of Lucifer himself. Once he discovers a young soul to possess, a new monster is formed. In the second book, Guardian of Angel, I add in mutants with supernatural abilities. As if that weren’t enough, they are also possessed. Book three, Sea of Forgetfulness, has all of the above plus brain-hungry zombies, bloodthirsty pirates, and the cherry on top…a dragon. Later this summer, I’ll be releasing the fourth book, Gatekeepers of Eden. What kind of monsters have I concocted for this tale? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see.
I hope these tips help you create your own creepy characters. When the time comes to stitch your beast together in the lab, don’t hold back. In my opinion, the creepier, the better!
Meet Lanie Mores
Lanie Mores is the award-winning author of the science fiction and fantasy book series, Father of Contention. An active member of the Canadian Authors Association, she also enjoys writing poetry, and magazine editorials featuring health and wellness. Her passions include fitness, baking, gaming, and binge-reading and watching anything to do with monsters. She lives in Ontario with her family and forever barking fur babies, Batman and Petri.
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