Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I declare this the Week of Amazing. (And literary monsters!)

This week has been made of win. Allow me to explain.

First, fellow lovely AWers Chanelle and Lindsey got 'The Call'! Two awesome writers repped by two awesome agents! Congrats ladies!

Secondly, I'M MAKING FIG-CHOCOLATE CAKE. (This is the most important part, obviously.) The fig tree in our yard has made a few fruits! I don't like raw figs, but baking with them is divine. They do for baking what mushrooms do for cooking - absorb flavor and eek it out in bits as the heat gets to it.

Fig-cream is DELICIOUS. I could eat cartons of the stuff. I make my own with heavy cream, figs, cinnamon, and vanilla. Whip it all together until it forms stiff peaks. Oh gosh, I'm drooling a little just thinking about it. Still haven't ridden that bike yet. :'D

Thirdly, I can't stop listening to this on repeat. For hours. It's just gibberish...but it's so...cool? Hypnotizing?

As I'm writing this new WIP, I realized something! My favorite part of writing, more than building characters, more than world-building, more than plot-creation, is making the monsters.

Monsters are more commonly referred to as 'antagonists'. Antagonist, in the classic sense, is a bad guy. Someone who pushes AGAINST the fabric of normalcy, messes it up, has plans for it, wants to control it, whatever. The cut-and-dry antagonist is just evil for the sake of being evil. It could be a group of people, an empress, otherworldly demons, a crazy police officer (looking at you, Stephen King), or the devil himself (Looking at you again, King. :D).

I like crafting my monsters. I like giving them more heart than the average bad guy. The average bad guy who's bad just for the sake of it is what we're warned against as writers. Swell writers know a bad guy isn't simply bad - they have just as many layers as the protagonists. We strive to craft multi-layered cakes of black that we can call THE BAD GUY with pride. Our monsters are just as precious to us as our characters.

Maybe not. Maybe a monster who rapes and pillages isn't loved by the author who crafted him. Maybe it's hard to love that monster because of the despicable things they do, but you might come to love them in your own way. You know that in the end they'll still get speared through the heart with a falling beam, but you love their death equally. It is because they die that you love them. You love their story, whether it sickens you or not. Maybe moreso.

I was taught the most dangerous monsters are the agents of chaos. The ones who have no morals, no qualms, no connections to this world, and no regret. They can do anything, anywhere, to anyone, without a single logical reason. That is the monster king. They impose no limits on themselves, and you impose no limits on them.

But at least you can predict unpredictability.

To me, the scarier monsters are the calculated ones. The ones who have a goal.

I always give my monsters a reason. They aren't always the black cake. They are the gray cake, too. The in-between. Good and evil are relative. I think in my books I have this facsination with survival. I send this message that survival trumps 'good' and 'evil'. Survival has no morals, no limits. Everyone is just trying to live in the best way they can. My monsters are trying to survive too, and they're better-armed, better-built, and just a bit more ruthless than the average person.

Sometimes concepts for monsters are born when I'm just talking with people. I was doing a paper for Psych 101 a year ago, and I found myself on a part of the textbook that talked about people that were cut off from their emotions, as in physically incapable of feeling anything. I asked myself; what would take the place of emotion? The person would be made of all memories, and no emotion. Survival would take first importance. Clinical curiosity, too. Maybe the person would even try to blend in with other people by imitating their facial expressions or speech patterns, just so they wouldn't be harrassed or treated suspiciously all the time. If you took away those emotions, what would that person be?

The answer; an organic machine as nature intended. It's purpose; procreate as much as it can before it dies.

Then I thought what a race of these 'organic machines' would be like. Things just progressed from there, until I got a whole story based around them. I made their exact opposites, too; people with no memories but all emotion. They are conflicted, internally tortured and confused, and full of rage that devolves and corrodes to eventual insanity.

Monsters: Best Made By Questioning Everything. How do you come up with yours?

I hope everything is going well for you wonderful people. I wish I could send you all a piece of this cake. :3

Also, I read another very astute article that said 'Only readers have the luxury of reviewing, not writers'. It had some good points I couldn't refute! So you might notice my blog has gotten a little shorter and a little less negative-reviewy. I mourn the death of my self-expression a little, but I'm sure this'll be a good thing.

Also, the parentals have hijacked Facebook. I don't know whether to cry or....weep and dramatically melt into the floor.


  1. Heh. Welcome to the world of having your parents comment on your status updates.

    I agree. Villains are made of pure awesome and they're some of the funnest characters to write. That irreverence for morality... well, it just gets me all excited!

  2. Love your take on the monsters! My antagonists are never that dark; they're generally decent/flawed people with a very different agenda than my MC. Sometimes I think it would be fun to write more horror/thriller type stuff with more monster in my monsters, though, just to have fun with them! :)

  3. Sarah - It's so not fun when you're mom goes through and 'likes' EVERYTHING on your wall. -_-
    Yesss!! Those monsters with no morality are the most fun to write, ever.

    Guinevere - Yes! I don't write very dark monsters, but more like what you do! It would be really awesome to dabble in SERIOUS horrorific monster making someday....

    Chan - No prob, lovely. ;)