When I sat down to start planning my novel for NaNoWriMo, I had several decisions to make. I’d only just finished the first draft of a novel when I signed up for the madness of trying to write 50k words in 30 days, and I only had one week to plot, plan and prepare.
The first decision I had to make was, do I immediately start book two in the trilogy or write something completely and utterly different? This was a hard one! My first instinct was to go straight into book two – I had the follow-on story fresh in my mind, my characters were so alive to me and it seemed like the natural progression – but, all my published writer friends warned me against it. So, I had to come up with a concept for a new novel and plot it all out in less than seven days!
This was when the fun really started!
Having decided that I was going to write about a white witch on a quest, there just had to be challenges and monsters for her to face. Well, didn’t there? Anyway, I, in my infinite wisdom, decided I didn’t want to use any of the ‘normal’ monsters, the ones that have been recycled in many different forms over the years; I wanted to come up with some that were completely unique. I started with a bullet list:
- Physical description
These were the important parameters I needed to nail down to make my monsters ‘come alive’ on the pages. But, before I could start putting the details together, I had to make sure I wasn’t duplicating existing creatures and that meant research.
I found some great sites on the internet which not only gave names in an A-Z format, but also descriptions – some even gave details of the attributes they possessed. So useful!
I started at the top of my list.
Coming up with names was not actually that hard – I just had to check the most comprehensive list I could find to ensure the names I chose were unique. Happily, they were so onwards to the next item.
Physical descriptions were a bit harder. I wanted to portray the beasts in a way that would make them appear scary just by their physical appearance. Again, referring back to the best sites and lists, I detected a pattern that seemed to run through a lot of the well-known types of monsters and that was my starting point. I tried to think of combinations that used fear inducing wild creatures and wrote down a list of them. When I had about twenty, I picked the ones that I felt best suited the plot and, perhaps more importantly, were going to portray the image I wanted to project.
Finally, I had to decide what powers/attributes each monster was going to possess. In each case, it had to be something that a powerful witch would have trouble overcoming. If each were going to be defeated by a simple spell, there would be no excitement, drama or interest to keep a reader hooked!
I eventually decided to give each of the monsters more than one ability. This would make them more of a challenge for the protagonist to overcome and ultimately more difficult to kill.
Hopefully, when I’ve finished writing and editing this novel, readers will find these monsters believable and frightening, and the action sequences gripping and memorable.
Authors – Have you created unique monsters for any of your work? Did you have a different process? I’d love to hear about it!
Readers – What sort of monsters would you believe in? What memorable monsters have you found in literature and what made them so memorable to you? Again, I’d love to hear your thoughts!