1. jackratko
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    jackratko New Member

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    Monster Description Help

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by jackratko, Apr 10, 2012.

    I guess this would be put here? idk. sorry if its the wrong place. anyway, im writing a horror story... kind of. its complicated. BUT i wrote a description for a creature and i felt it to be bland and poorly written. here it is:

    "A large mass of some thick, heavy, whitish liquid fell onto my shoulders and drenched me. Above me, on the ceiling, rested a menacing, slavering creature. It was large with bony limbs. The creature’s forelimbs were rather lanky compared to the rest of the body, and the back legs were short. The creature had what appeared to be two long, clawed fingers at the end of its forelimbs, but it crawled on its knuckles. It had tiny hair on its knuckles and backs of its fingers, which were covered in smaller hairs. It also had small spikes extruding from the knuckles and the base of its hind feet. From its stomach grew two more arms, probably used for actually eating the prey. The head appeared to be a solid sphere, but it opened its jaw extremely wide to let out a snarl, unfolding its head almost like an onion and revealing rows and rows of yellow teeth. Its eyes appeared soulless, as they glowed a white color."

    Help would be appreciated on making it truly horrific. thanks!
     
  2. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ok, the visual aspects of the description are not too bad but you are right, it is rather poorly written. Main issues are:

    1. Repetitive sentence structure to the point that eventually you just give up and say "It also had", not good because it reads as a shopping list.
    2. Repetitive phrases - you use "the creature" the creature" twice in a row, bad idea.
    3. Undetermined and hyperbole words such as "some", "it appeared to be" "probably" "extremely" etc, all of which dilute the narrative and distance the reader. Remove them all and write definite sentences such as

     
  3. Z. C. Bolger
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    Z. C. Bolger Member

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    This is exactly correct and I agree. Very repetitive.

    The best advice I give on the description of a character, whether a man, beast or beast-man, is to allow actions to describe the details. It snarls? You can describe saliva, monstrous sounds, teeth and full facial contortion with that single action. It's hanging from the ceiling? Describe how it's razor sharp claws allow it to do this. The action that happens will keep the reader moving along while getting the picture; where as just describing it, and at length, the reader will go, "shouldn't that have attacked by now?"
     
  4. jackratko
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    jackratko New Member

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    thanks for the tips! i remade it to describe it in action. tell me what you think now:

    "A large mass of some thick, heavy, whitish liquid fell onto my shoulders and drenched me. Above me, on the ceiling, rested a menacing, slavering creature. It was large with bony limbs. The creature’s forelimbs were rather lanky compared to the rest of the body, and the back legs were short. From its stomach grew two more stubby arms, which were completely caked in blood. From its stomach grew two more arms, probably used for actually eating the prey. The head appeared to be a solid sphere, but it opened its jaw extremely wide to let out a horrifying, slavering snarl, unfolding its head almost like an onion and revealing rows and rows of yellow teeth.
    I could only think of one thing to do: run.
    “Dmitri! Run!” I yelled, sprinting away in the same direction as the Creeper. Dmitri was close behind. The creature crawled after us in long strides, keeping our same pace. It clambered toward us on its knuckles, which were covered in tiny hairs similar to a spider’s. Beneath the hairs were small, thick spikes, which it stabbed into the ceiling to stay up. It left a trail of saliva on the ground over which it moved."
     
  5. Dan Kirkalnd
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    Dan Kirkalnd Member

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    I think what might help you to (besides the already mentioned repetitive nature of the description) is to basically cut some of the emphatic statements. You can describe something without repeatedly being directly stating in your descriptions. Instead of saying "It had teeth like a wolf" you could say "It's wolf-like teeth" Basically instead of always "prepping" your descriptions, you just describe it. here's a little description of a monster, let's call the main character Robert, Robert encounters a monster that is living in his basement.

    Robert eased open the door, the noises from the basement had been growing louder as of late. They were unnatural, as if something demonic was purposefully torturing Robert by robbing him of his sleep. As he descended his flashlight cut a swath through the darkness. Then he stopped, his hands clamped onto the flashlight with vice-like strength. In the corner, hunched over a dead animal was a monster. It turned to face him, it's eyes small and black, with blood dripping from it's long sharp teeth. It's body was shaped like a wolf, except it's flat face resembled a human, but with skin covered with patches of black hair and a nose that wasn't present. Robert backed away, his hands shaking like a tremor. The monster dropped down on it's forefeet, it's long claws dripping in blood. Everything in Robert's body was screaming "Run!" but his fear froze him in place. The monster leaped, lunging through the air, it's fangs beared as it sought Robert's throat. Robert fell back on the stairs, grabbing for anything to be used as a weapon. His hand met a crowbar in the struggle, the beast biting and clawing at Robert's soft flesh with ferocity as a mountain lion strikes at it's prey. Robert gave the crowbar a desperate swing and struck the creature across the face. It retreated and ran back through a small window near the ceiling of the basement.

    See what I was trying to do there? Instead of stating something descriptive as a "matter of fact" make it congruent with the reading.

    Take a statement like this... "It was large with bony limbs. the creature's forelimbs were rather lanky compared to the rest of the body, and the back legs were short. From it's stomach grew two more stubby arms, which were completely caked in blood"

    I would write the sentence like this (just my opinion FYI)

    "It stood up, it's long bony limbs grabbing onto the wall to balance itself. The long and slender forelimbs poked out from the rest of the body, which sat on stout back legs. It let out a menacing growl, it's stubby arms on it's stomach lashed out, seeking blood, as they were already covered in it"

    I realize that this adds words, but in my opinion it streamlines the writing and makes the reader feel like they are reading an active description. You keep the action flowing while simultaneously describing the creature.

    Hope that helps, just my 2 cents
     
  6. Z. C. Bolger
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    Z. C. Bolger Member

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    What he ^ said.

    Have the creature stretch, have him shift his claws... hell, have him drop from the ceiling, twisting around to land up right and then roar in the face of the character as he is frozen with fear to one spot.

    Also, when describing the saliva that falls on the character, are you going for a white color or more of a translucent aspect? "A thick translucent slime fell on Greg's shoulder". You can describe the consistency, the color and the overall idea with just three words. You don't want to have "whiteish", it is either white or it isn't... maybe off white? never use -"ish" it makes it feel like the author can't think of a better word. Instead use words to describe the color better, muted, dulled, translucent, blinding, vibrant ... these are all words that will help with describing the color without having to use "-ish"
     
  7. jackratko
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    jackratko New Member

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    first of all, id like to thank you so much for the advice. its really helpful and will help me in future writing. second, once again i re-wrote it. here is my next draft of the description:

    "A large mass of some thick, heavy, translucent slime fell onto my shoulders and drenched me. Above me, on the ceiling, rested a menacing, slavering creature. It stood to its hind legs, its long, bony limbs grabbing onto the wall to balance itself. The long and slender forelimbs poked out from the rest of the body, which sat on stout back legs. Its stubby arms on its stomach lashed out, seeking blood, as they were already covered in it. It dropped from the ceiling and opened its jaws extremely wide, unfolding its spherical head almost like an onion, letting out a horrifying, slavering snarl and revealing rows upon rows of razor teeth.


    I could only think of one thing to do: run.

    “Dmitri! Run!” I yelled, sprinting away. Dmitri was close behind. The creature crawled after us in long strides, keeping our same pace. It clambered toward us on its knuckles, which were covered in tiny hairs similar to a spider’s. Beneath the hairs were small, thick spikes, which it stabbed into surfaces to scale the tunnel walls in a spiral formation as it pursued us.

    I would not be able to keep up this pace for long."
     
  8. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    My thoughts were along the line of telling rather then showing.
    This last rewrite is much better at showing rather then telling. Use descriptions in the action to avoid the grocery list description.

    "seeking blood,as they were already covered in it." "seeking blood" is telling, since there is no way to know without you telling us. But shouldn't that be "seeking more blood"? Since it was already covered?

    It did alot, might try to reword so "It" isn't written so much. Just removed the its: It stood, its limbs, itself, its stubby arms, it dropped, its jaws, its head.

    Note to the character, you don't have to outrun the monster, just outrun the slowest person. ;)
     
  9. Z. C. Bolger
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    Z. C. Bolger Member

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    This is LOADS better than the first draft. Good job on the pursuit of better writing. I'll just post what I think could make it flow even better, feel free to take or leave it as you have definitely improved it already.

    Besides the above corrections I would suggest this for the first line.

    "A large mass of some thick, heavy, translucent slime fell onto my shoulders and ,drenchinged me.
     

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