1. FireWater

    FireWater Senior Member

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    Need help with the monster in my midpoint sequence

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by FireWater, Feb 1, 2017.

    I'm writing a scene in my novel that's more fantasy-based - it involves a different dimension, so I have the freedom to pretty much come up with whatever I want. The scene involves a beast/monster and how my main character would defeat/kill it. I have my stuff outlined in terms of big-picture story flow, but not in terms of the more specific details, so I've been stuck on this part for a while now.

    It's about the 50% point in my novel, and my MC is in a different dimension at a main "prison site" type place for people who have been "harvested" - siphoned through from her/our dimension to this one as, essentially, a food/energy source for the entities on the other side. My MC is the only person who can access this dimension without having been harvested herself (don't worry, this is due to sensible plot things, not a "Chosen One" issue or prophecy or anything vomitrocious like that). She's already seen glimpses of the victims who were 'harvested,' including some people who she knows, but they're essentially ghost-like silhouettes who can't move around, talk, or be animated in any way, because the energy has been drained from them and they're like husks.

    The specific place is like a tower, with walls around it where the other side of the wall is a mysterious dark void. The "beast" is basically a monster that has been placed there to guard the energy of the harvesting victims.

    I have things figured out in terms of overall story flow, but I'm stuck on the actual specifics that I'd need to write the scene. Specifically:

    - What type of creature/beast it would look like, in terms of features and descriptions
    - What my MC would need to do in order to get rid of it
    - The purpose of why that is the way it is

    I'm a believer in using monsters to symbolize bigger themes in the story, and I've even posted about that type of thing a long time ago. For example, the monsters in Pan's Labyrinth are all significant with regards to their appearances and features - those things deliberately parallel the themes they are metaphors for. Same can be said for other significant monsters like in LOTR, Game of Thrones and other stories. For this reason, I don't want to just come up with some random thing for the sake of cool imagery, I want it to be significant in terms of the themes I've referenced in my post. But it's one of those things where it's far easier to help someone else than to think of the best solutions for my own story.

    Can anyone help me out?
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

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    You could always go the glamour route. Have the monster be the personification of your MC's fears. To get rid of it, your MC would obviously have to conquer that specific fear
    (in the middle of the battle, I guess). No need to explain why it is the way it is because it would look differently to all those that confront it. If it's like a monster-monster it could be something as simple as a dog if, say, your MC fears dogs.
     
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  3. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    This made me think of a spider that liquefies its prey's interals and sucks them out, leaving behind a shell, so maybe something spidery?

    Since you call it 'harvesting' I wonder if something reminiscent of farming would be good (I'm thinking of scythes and tillers). Is it supposed to be really impersonal and non-malign, the same way we harvest grain? Something that's not really aesthetically frightening but just dogged and industrial? Maybe something plantlike to imply the usual harvesting process from a human's perspective being reversed?

    What's doing the harvesting? If they left behind a 'guard dog' of sorts, what kind of creature would make sense for them to leave there - what kind of creatures do they have access to? Honestly it's hard to come with much without knowing anything more about your setting or your themes. Maybe you could clarifies what themes you're working with?
     
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  4. LachlanMM

    LachlanMM New Member

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    I'm also a fan of not completely describing the monster -- what scares you may not scare your reader, and vice versa. Neil Gaiman does this quite well, let them fill in their own fears....
     
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  5. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    Yes.

    I recently slush-read a horror story where the monster was very precisely described, and the horror just wasn't there at all.
     
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  6. FireWater

    FireWater Senior Member

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    I understand the value of avoiding over-description. I get that 100%, and I agree that what you don't see is typically scarier than what you do. I'm not seeking help with it in a "it looks precisely like this and go on and on about physical description" type way, but just enough to get through writing the scene.

    I have a bit of buildup about how it (the "guard dog" equivalent) lives in a sinister dark abyss type place, so I was thinking about going with like, a spider-type manifestation that is made out of the abyss itself. Like a giant black hole shaped like a spider or tentacled thing, but as a shadow entity so that you can't see its true form. To "get" you, it reaches out with its "arms" and pulls you in as part of the abyss, so you become one with it with no way out. Maybe also throwing in something about how the black-hole/shadow appearance is just the appearance that people perceive, because eyes from the human world are unable to process the alien nature of what lies under the surface, or some similar Lovecraftian shit. That sounds cool to me.

    This brings me to:
    - How would my MC defeat something like this, in a way that keeps in line with the themes?
    - How can I take what I described in the paragraph above, and add to that to make it scarier or more interesting? I don't mean in terms of appearance details or anything, because I agree with the "appeal of the unknown" thing, but I also use the unknown a lot in this novel and I really don't want it to feel like I'm giving too little to the point of being anticlimactic, like a cop-out.

    Thanks again! :)
     
  7. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    The obvious solution for defeating some sort of shadow creature would be lighting it up - whether with just light, or with fire.
     
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  8. PilotMobius

    PilotMobius Active Member

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    The scariest monster may be the lack of one. Human psychology fills in the unknown with our greatest fears.

    Perhaps you should have the protagonist navigate a pitch-black labyrinth of an underground cemetary full of claustrophobia-inducing tunnels and water. The walls of human remains sorta keeps with the theme of "harvested" people.
    image.jpg
    The MC could slowly start going insane due to starvation, isolation, and the constant anticipation of a monster.
     
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  9. FireWater

    FireWater Senior Member

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    I love this, and will absolutely use this in the buildup. Thanks :)

    I also get the light thing, and the obvious significance (the antithesis of a creature that's made of a dark void). However, how can I spin this in a way that isn't cliche? I definitely don't want to spin it in a way that's like, "My heroic MC thrust the beacon of light into the heart of the abyss, like the one shining savior of good who defeated the pit of evil" or something equally--for lack of a better word--Mary Sue-ish. I like the general idea, but would want to arrange the logistics in a way that doesn't seem like I'm trying to hard to have my MC be this shining white Gandalf figure or something.
     
  10. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Find the human in your monster, that will be its most horrifying aspect, and makes it a character, not just a thing. Distill into it the things you hate or fear most about yourself at your cruelest. Give it the look of a child's innocense, and with a child's mercurial whims and mood changes. Remember Anthony Fremont in The Twilight Zone? THAT was a monster! Remember the creepy twin girls in The Shining?
     
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  11. FireWater

    FireWater Senior Member

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    This is extremely helpful. Now I just have to identify what those things are and translate that into how it would manifest in my novel's situation. Very wise, thank you so much!
     

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