Monsters are everywhere; in our heads, in our hearts, in our lives.
They are the driver for horror stories, and a good monster will be remembered forever.
But what makes a good one? To some, it’s the ugliness, the viciousness, the sheer number of razor sharp teeth which provide the thrills, but I believe a monster needs to be more than that.
In the Hexes comic book series, monsters play a large part, it’s a supernatural/horror title, after all, and to come up with a new monster every issue can be daunting. Fortunately, I learnt early on that the look of the monster is not the most important factor. After all, the ugly creatures can be heroes, the beautiful ones, the villains.
For example, in ‘The Boy Who Came Closer’, the monster appears to be the man who gives Brendan the mysterious pebble. He’s a massive, hulking figure, who intimidates a sick child. He appears to be nasty, but, in reality, he saves Brendan’s life. He has no personal agenda; he is the messenger.
Neither is it the apparition that haunts Brendan. The apparition is merely a warning; a fragment of Brendan who knows the truth and won’t let him forget.
In fact, in ‘The Boy Who Came Closer’, Brendan himself ends up playing the part of the monster. He is the one acting for his own selfish interests, and to me, that’s possibly the most important factor.
Monsters are scary because they act in their own interests. They can be nasty for no reason, but it makes them less interesting; being evil for evil’s sake gives little depth of character.
The key lies in questioning the creature’s incentives. If it hides under the bed, why? If it lurks in the wardrobe; why? What sounds does it make, and why would it make them? What does it live for? What is it afraid of?
It’s only when pondering, and answering, these vital questions that a story really begins to gain depth.
All antagonists need a reason for what they do, and monsters are no different. They are more than just the mechanism to scare people.
If you take the time and give them a purpose for everything they do, you will be rewarded.
It’s time to motivate those monsters!