Creating a Poetic Character

Monster Building Made Easy


Every good story needs good characters. Let’s take a closer look at getting to know your characters. That way you can better know how each will act and react in your story.

That’s how stories work—

  • characters acting and reacting to each other
  • or to a problem (like a storm or a pop quiz)
  • or even sometimes to their own internal conflicts (like fear or jealously)When I start developing a story, I begin by exploring my characters—especially my MAIN CHARACTERS. In my book, FROM THE GRAVE , there are two main characters telling the story, from very different Points of View.Originally Frankenstein Frightface Gordon was my only main character—a monster misfit who wanted to prove he was monster enough. But as I started peeking into the dark corners of my monster world, Malcolm McNastee quickly emerged and demanded equal billing. He was a troll on a mission to rid Uggarland (the monster world) of misfits like Frank.

Frank, Malcolm, Vanya, and the bat—Scarlett— from Book 2.

As it turned out, Malcolm was right. His voice helped make my store more well-rounded, more complex, and more exciting!

Interviewing a Monster

How do you get to know your monster? You ask a lot of questions.You put it in different situations. You let your mind open up to all the possibilities.

One time I pretended to take Frank and Malcolm on a plane ride to see how each one would react. Frank at least stayed in his seat, buckled in, excited to look out the window. Malcolm, however, grabbed clawsful of snacks off the food cart and wrapped up one of the flight attendants with toilet paper before the captain locked him into the restroom.

Turns out Malcolm was afraid of heights and resorted to his distracting monster maneuvers in order to hide his fear. How would I have known if I didn’t take him for a ride?

Now you might ask, are there any plane rides in my MONSTER OR DIE books? No, but there are some high- flying adventures via broomsticks and dragons. So I had good insights into how Malcolm and Frank would react to those situations.

One of the author’s office buddies.

Interview Questions

A great way to begin learning about your monster (or other character) is to ask questions like I mentioned above. Here are some basic ones to get started:

Where does she live?
What does he like/dislike most? What does she want most of all? What is he afraid of?

What is her biggest problem?

Creating a Poetic Character

Now to have some fun with this whole character-building process.

Fill in the lines below. When you’re finished, you’ll have created a free verse poem! I’ll show you an example I did as well, although I did use some rhyme on that one. It’s totally up to you.

Here’s the form.

(Monster’s FIRST name)


(Four adjectives that describe the creature)

Sibling of

(or Son or Daughter of)

Lover of

Three foods or things your monster loves

Who feels

(Three feelings your monster has and when they are felt)

Who gives

(Three things the creature gives—good or bad)

Who fears

(Three things your monster fears)

Who would like to see Who lives

(The town or a brief description of the setting where your monster lives)

(Monster’s LAST name)

Monster Character Poem

Malcolm McNastee by Cynthia Reeg

Malcolm is the orange, warty, leather-clad, tail-scrunching
Son of Roary and Wanda.
He’s a lover of Sludge Noodles & Gravy and Crud Crumb Pie.
He feels warm and fuzzy when his little sister Nelly hugs him tight.
He feels totally trollish when he growls with all his might.
He feels monstrously content when he sits on Cemetery Hill in the deep, dark night! Malcolm gives loud burps when celebrating tasty treats.
He gives scowls to most everyone he meets and indigestion to all he greets.
He fears nothing—except himself sometimes—and poetry (like this) that badly rhymes. He’d like to see NO more Exxillium sun or misfit Fiendful Fiends fun or Shadowlands excursions! He lives in Monster City, Uggarland’s capital with a skeleton tree view.
As you can see, Malcolm is a McNastee through and through!

Now It’s Your Turn

Go ahead! Give it a try. Explore your character and create a fun poem. Like I said, no rhyming needed. Just corral your character with a few questions, and you’ll have your monster under wraps in no time.

I hope you’ll share some of your monster poems! Happy reading and writing!

Scary on!

For more info: visit

50% OFF SALE!!!

Start your holiday literary party off to an awesome start with this amazing sale from my publisher, JOLLY FISH PRESS. You can have my monsters and more, all for half price!!!

You’ll be celebrating long after the holidays have passed with your very own copies of FROM THE GRAVE and INTO THE SHADOWLANDS.

Don’t miss out on the MAYHEM!




Claire Fayers newest fantasy adventure is set in the misty and magical world of Victorian England, where the Fair Folk have gone into the UnWorld—specifically a placed called UnWyse. Humans have been left with only a few magic mirrors as portals between the two worlds. In the real world, eleven-year-old Ava Harcourt—whose parents have recently died—and her older brother Matthew find themselves alone and in dire straits. Their father had been a conjurer at one time, but for some unknown reason sold his mirror and quit magicing. Ava and her brother were warned by their father to avoid Lord Skinner, the mysterious yet all-controlling leader of Wyse, the last human town where magic works. But with nowhere else to go, Ava and Matthew return to Wyse, forced to trust Lord Skinner for the jobs and lodging he offers them.

In the UnWorld, apprentice Howell Fletcher works at the House of Forgotten Mirrors. Howell is a Fair Folk without any magic, but he soon finds himself approached by the intimidating and all-powerful Mr. Bones. The mission thrust upon Howell only leads to more confusion. It introduces him to a strange new magical friend who may easily lead him astray.

And so begins their journey into danger, intrigue, and surprising disclosures as the protagonists of THE BOOK OF UNWYSE MAGIC are thrust into the clash between the two worlds. Ava and Howell must rely on her own initiatives and bravery, as well as the help of a few new friends, to discover the truths that will set things right in the World and the UnWorld.

A brief selection from The Book—the covenant between the worlds—begins each chapter. These cheeky lines were some of my favorites parts of the story because The Book can predict the future. For example: “By the way, you might want to close your eyes in a page or two. Things are about to get unpleasant.” The Book plays a vital role in the story’s outcome as well—but I won’t spoil the fun by revealing any more. THE BOOK OF UNWYSE MAGIC is a totally entertaining tale for middle grade readers who enjoy fantasies, quirky characters, mysteries, and satisfying endings. The story is told through the eyes of both Ava and Howell for an effective contrast—highlighting the importance of each individual’s uniqueness as something to be valued.

So beware! The next time you look into a mirror, take caution that it’s not a magical one. Or better yet, read THE BOOK OF UNWYSE MAGIC and share in all the enchanted fun!

COMING March 26, 2019 from Henry Holt.

  • ISBN-13: 978-1627794220

Thankful for Booktalking Teachers & Librarians

Thank You, Teachers & Librarians!!!


This month, I’m celebrating all the wonderful teachers and librarians out there sharing books with their students. As a former school librarian, I know how effective booktalking can be to help sell kids on books–both old and new.


Teachers & Librarians, here is how my November book giveaway works:

Follow me on Twitter @cynthiareeg and send me a tweet with #booktalking in it. That’s all you need to do to be entered. I’ll send the educator selected a copy of both my MG fantasy novels: FROM THE GRAVE and INTO THE SHADOWLANDS!

Thanks again for all you do!

Happy reading!!!


This ‘N That

Summer’s final days have come and gone, although the hot temps have lingered a bit. In the meantime, I continue to read and to write and to prepare for the Middle of the Map SCBWI Conference later this fall in Kansas City.

I’ve switched writing gears from my monsters and am busy polishing a contemporary MG novel with a girl protagonist. And I’m also working on a narrative NF PB as well about an endangered wildcat.

Two of the recent #kidlit titles I’ve truly enjoyed are A STITCH IN TIME by Daphne Kalmar, an endearing Historical Fiction MG. And ALL ARE WELCOME by Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman, a sweet and inclusive PB with a message of diversity told in verse.

I hope your reading and writing are going strong too!
Happy Fall!!!

Summer Update

I don’t know about you, but for me the summer is flying by! I can’t believe it’s half over. Hopefully you’ve been up to plenty of fun, whether it’s outside or inside. I’m trying to learn some new things this summer. One is outside–golf. The other is inside–piano. Both require a lot of practice, but I am seeing some improvement at both of them.

Are you trying some new adventures this summer?  Even reading a new type of book–like a mystery, or historical fiction, or SciFi, or nonfiction–can be a new adventure.

Yesterday, I visited my local library and found plenty of interesting titles to choose from there. Here are some of the middle grade books I’m going to dig into:

SAVE ME A SEAT by Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan, about a new kid at school. I can relate to that, since this was my experience several times as a child.

ROSETOWN by Cynthia Rylant, about a young girl dealing with the death of her dog and her parents’ divorce. Big changes in our lives can be tough. I’m looking forward to meeting this character and seeing how she deals with her problems.

STINKBOMB AND KETCHUP-FACE AND THE BADNESS OF BADGERS by John Dougherty, a totally off-the-top fantasy which I will share with my grandson. I think he’s going to laugh-out-loud at this one.

And yes, I am writing as well this summer. I’m editing a middle grade novel as well as a nonfiction picture book. Plus, I’m writing a fun picture book that’s hopefully quite moo-velous!

One other summer adventure I had a few weeks ago was an evening at our local butterfly house with camera in hand. It was incredible to closely observe so many beautiful butterflies and try to capture them with my camera. I am only a beginner at photography but our instructor, a professional photographer, gave me some pointers. I’ll share a few of the photos here.

Keep me posted on your summer adventures and your summer reads!



Emmie Enchanted featured FROM THE GRAVE on her book review blog this week.

I am pleased to share the link to this well-read nine-year-old reviewer’s look at Book 1 of MONSTER OR DIE. It was thrilling to see that Emmie was swept up into the monsters’ world and greatly enjoyed her time there. In fact, she’s informed me that she is busy reading Book 2, INTO THE SHADOWLANDS, right now!

These are the type of reviews I truly love–from my target audience. It pleases me beyond words to know that my story has entertained this reader and encouraged her to want more with the second book.

Miss Enchanted has a wide range of books reviewed on her site, Fantastic Books & Where to Find Them. I am thrilled to see my book on the same page as such greats like Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I hope you’ll check them out and show these and other book recommendations found on the site to middle grade readers you know. A good review from a student reviewer means so much more to a young reader since it comes from one of their own.

Here’s what Emmie had to say about FROM THE GRAVE:

Reading & WRITING

Emmie has also written a book of her own–THE MAGIC MYSTERY! This also thrills me. I love sharing writing tips with students–getting them excited not only about reading but about writing their own stories. For it is in sharing our words, our thoughts, and our ideas that we draw closer to each other. Reading and writing are the keys to success on so many levels.

Summer is almost ready to start. Check out Emmie’s list for some great books for your summer reading!



Ready for Summer Reading?


by Wendy McLeod MacKnight

I just finished an Advanced Reader Copy of this amazing middle grade story by one of my Sweet 16 writer pals. I suggest you add it to your Summer Reading List. It’s great fun!

Below is my review.

THE FRAME-UP is a truly clever story, woven with art, magic and issues from contemporary life. The setting itself is a bit magical, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery with its wide array of paintings—including a portrait of Mona Dunn, a thirteen-year-old from the early twentieth century. When twelve-year-old Sargent Singer arrives for a summer visit with his estranged father, he soon discovers the magic within the museum’s artwork and befriends Mona who has a life within the frame. As Sargent and Mona build their friendship, so too does Sargent learn to reach out to new contemporary friends he meets through the summer art program. He and his father make some progress toward repairing their rocky relationship but face complications when events put them at odds. Things also take a turn for the worse for Sargent and Mona when evil plans threaten to upend their friendship along with the museum’s artworks. The author has filled this story with great imagining, skillful plotting, and endearing characters. The mystery will keep readers turning the pages, and the ending will leave them feeling more than satisfied. Highly recommended for middle grade readers who love mystery, magic, and an artfully grand read! [Release date: June 5, 2018]