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.
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)
(or Son or Daughter of)
Three foods or things your monster loves
(Three feelings your monster has and when they are felt)
(Three things the creature gives—good or bad)
(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!
For more info: visit www.cynthiareeg.com