Book recommendation: Writing Monsters, by Philip Athans

A copy of Writing Monsters, by Philip Athans, on top of a notebook and pencil

Oh, this book recommendation is coming to you super late. I read Writing Monsters: How to Craft Believably Terrifying Creatures to Enhance Your Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction, by Philip Athans, way back in the fall, and I’ve been meaning to post about it ever since.

I really am sorry it took me so long. Because it’s about time any of my writer companions out there who haven’t heard of this resource yet, did. And that they go ahead and pick up a copy.

Let me tell you a little about why.

Writing Monsters tells you just about anything you may want or need to know about, well, writing monsters. No matter what type of speculative fiction novel you’re working on, you’ll find something in here that can help you out.

The book gives you a lot to think about when it comes to the monster element in any story–even just the concept of monsters themselves. They encompass more than the possibly traditional image you have in your mind; instead, they’re anything from a classic vampire, to an unfamiliar animal, to a parasitic disease. And to help you get a better sense of each possibility he presents, Athans provides you with examples from movies and novels from across the speculative fiction genre.

Particularly useful, though, is the Monster Creation Form at the beginning of the book. Similar to a character creation sheet, the form asks you to consider things like how your monster moves and what motivates it. In this way, it helps you better bring your monster to life, making it more likely you’ll get the reaction you’re looking for in your reader.

Goodreads summary

Monsters are more than things that go bump in the night…

Monsters are lurking in the woods, beneath the waves, and within our favorite books, films, and games–and there are good reasons why they appear so often. Monsters are manifestations of our fears and symbols of our society–not to mention they’re a lot of fun–but each should serve a purpose and enhance the themes and tension in your fiction.

In Writing Monsters, best-selling author Philip Athans uses classic examples from books, films, and the world around us to explore what makes monsters memorable–and terrifying. You’ll learn what monsters can (and should) represent in your story and how to create monsters from the ground up.

Writing Monsters includes:In-depth discussions of where monsters come from, what they symbolize, and how to best portray them in fiction Informative overviews of famous monsters, archetypes, and legendary creatures A Monster Creation Form to help you create your monster from scratch An annotated version of H.P. Lovecraft’s chilling story “The Unnamable” Whether you write fantasy, science fiction, or horror, your vampires, ghouls, aliens, and trolls need to be both compelling and meaningful. With Writing Monsters, you can craft creatures that will wreak havoc in your stories and haunt your readers’ imaginations–and nightmares.

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