September 18, 2019, 03:02:25 PM

Author Topic: Here there be Monsters  (Read 14410 times)

Offline Yora

Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #30 on: March 22, 2015, 05:23:48 PM »
One observation I made quite a while ago is that many of the big names of classic fantasy writers have their own iconic signature monster which they use in different versions over and over.
Howard had his snakes, Lovecraft had his fish, and Tolkien his spiders. You even see it with multiple-writer universes, like Dungeons & Dragons has its dark elves and Final Fantasy the chocobos.

It's not something I would recommend any writer to specifically try to do, but I think probably something that most people who really like doing monsters very easily get to do eventually anyway. And having done some fine detailing and polishing on my own monsters, I've found that special type of monsters are worms.  :D
Which is somewhat strange, as I don't have any fascination with real worms and don't find them particularly creepy or horrifying in any way. I have a a good number of fictional reptiles that are mostly repainted obscure dinosaurs and plenty of living plant-spirits, but all the really weird alien horrors are almost entirely worms. Giant rock-burrowing worms, telepathic underwater worms, 5 meter long eels, a swarm of worms that forms into a human-like shape,  hordes of huge faceless centipedes,  a swamp and cave dwelling octopus that looks like nothing but tentacles, big centipede-lobsters, and giant centipedes with spikes. And now that I think of it, the mammalian monsters I created are all based on giant otters, weasels, and leopard seals, which are by far the wormiest of all mammals.
Which I don't mind, since they look cool.

With the primordial creatures of the underworld I specifically tried to base them on animals others than vertebrates. Mammals and reptiles are "normal", they are familiar and have dominated the world as we know it for hundreds of millions of years. So I was looking at insects and crustaceans, trying to avoid the obvious squids as that would look to obviously like Lovecraft. But somehow I ended up with worms, even though insects are only very rarely worm-shapes and crustaceans not at all. But I still made them into worms, and why not? It comes to me naturally and I think hasn't really be done much before. (Even Howards Worms of the Earth are actually serpents.)
The squishy and slimy types of worms are actually quite weird. They are obviously not plants or fungi, which makes them animals, but beyond that I don't have the slightest idea where they fit into the classifications of species.

Offline Nora

  • Dropped in from another planet avec son sourire provocateur - et Hades and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4569
  • Total likes: 3524
  • Gender: Female
  • The Explorer
    • View Profile
Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #31 on: March 22, 2015, 07:34:15 PM »
That reminds me of the gruesome moment in Peter Jackson's King Kong movie when they fall in that trench iiiih. Besides the spider types, the cook and is Asian kid fall to worm like creatures that made my teen self's skin crawl.
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Yora

Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #32 on: March 28, 2015, 01:46:29 PM »
For anyone interested in really unusual monsters, I have a series of posts on my website about weird monsters from roleplaying games. There's some really crazy stuff in those.  ;D

Offline D_Bates

  • Story Critiquaire Extraordinaire and a Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Bridgeburner
  • *****
  • Posts: 526
  • Total likes: 223
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #33 on: April 12, 2015, 11:44:04 PM »
I have to say I also have a bit of a thing for monsters, thougH I sort of get why they seem to be going out of fashion when most tend to be giant versions of regular creatures that are one dimensional beings who exist as a stepping stone for the protagonist to tread over while they 'level up' to the greater threat.

Those that are relevant to the bigger plot are often human hybrids, and even most of them fall into the fodder roles. Those that make it to primary antagonist follow a pretty basic structure of: Protagonist investigates their existance > Protagonist almost falls prey to their powers > Protagonist slays them in some metaphorical fashion > the end. This is perfectly fine, but it seems a lot of modern day fantasy is heavily focused on ongoing plots--at least the last time I checked Amazon almost every single entry was Book X of whatever series--and monsters don't tend to carry over well into episodic stories.

I'm personally trying to populate my world with many monsters/humanoids that are coexisting in an effort to explore those ways of life. My first effort didn't even have humans, just Faun, Centaur, and giant spiders. You can have so much fun when you take these creatures away from being side kicks and push the limits of their design. It makes me smile to imagine Fauns going all goat and butting horns after they get angry with one another, or brushing down the hair on their legs in the morning to make it neat and presentable. And when you go fully into the realm of spiders beyond the webs you can find some real beautiful horror scenes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64nbufskQhQ / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4GmmHWn6Jw

I was also imagining an ant/human hybrid kingdom that I never managed to plug into that particular tale but would like to revisit at some point. When I was doing research for them I found this gem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFg21x2sj-M . That's truly a kingdom if ever I saw one. I just find this sort of thing really fascinating. Sometimes the most fantastical things are right here on our very own planet.
David Bates
Works in progress:
Ciara: A Faun's Tale - 90,000; The K.B.G. - 100,000; Maria and the Jarls of Jotun - 90,000; The Shame that lurks in Stableton - current project; Ezra'il - Plotted. TBC July 2018

Offline Elfy

  • Writing contest regular
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 7180
  • Total likes: 755
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Purple Dove House
Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #34 on: April 12, 2015, 11:53:47 PM »
I just read a novella called Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant that actually has mermaids as the monsters. It's a highly entertaining little piece of fiction and reimagines the mermaids very successfully.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6961
  • Total likes: 4738
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #35 on: April 12, 2015, 11:56:27 PM »
@D_Bates, you might be interested in the SF novel A Wave Without a Shore by CJ Cherryh.
It has humans interacting with an ant-like alient race in a very interesting allegory for our own society.
I'm a Cherryh fan, so any excuse to flog her books, old as they are...   ;D
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

M.S OLNEY

  • Guest
Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #36 on: April 13, 2015, 01:32:05 PM »
In my novels the Sundered Crown Saga, monsters play a very important role. They are called Fell beasts and have been a major thorn in the side of humanity for millenia.

'It was the use of magic that paved the way to disaster for the early folk. A mage whose name was lost to history inadvertedly opened a portal to the void. Unable to reseal it the monsters of Vectrix entered the world of man. The first fell beasts burst forth from the Void. At first the beasts ran rampant across the world but, men are tenacious. An alliance of the kingdoms of the Niver banded together and over time culled the beast’s numbers. The best at hunting the monsters of the void were the specialist magic yielding hunters known as the Nightblades, the order which still defends the realm from the voids horrors.

The first Wizard, Aljeron sealed the portal to the void but the gap between worlds was damaged forever, beasts of the void would always seep through.'

Offline Elfy

  • Writing contest regular
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 7180
  • Total likes: 755
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Purple Dove House
Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #37 on: April 14, 2015, 12:37:57 AM »
In terms of signature monsters for certain authors that was a choice Joss Whedon had to make when he decided to write the script for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The film was basically the result of Joss' watching a lot of horror movies where the pretty young coed finds herself in an alley and confronted by a monster, then killed, roll opening credits. Joss thought, so what if she can fight back? Then he had to work out what monster she fought back against. In the end he decided to go with vampires. I think they were probably the easiest to film.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline D_Bates

  • Story Critiquaire Extraordinaire and a Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Bridgeburner
  • *****
  • Posts: 526
  • Total likes: 223
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #38 on: April 14, 2015, 07:15:04 PM »
@Jmack - I will look that one up, thanks. It's actually good to see what others have done with such things in the past to develop your own take on them.

@Elfy - I'll also look up that mermaid novella! Funnily enough, mermaids are also one that is sloshing around in my head for some point in time. I was thinking of going with a matriarchal society with a greek inspiration. (Hey, Atlantis!). The one hurdle I was trying to flesh out was how to bridge the gap between water and land. Gills are an easy thing to add, but I was thinking of flipping the fish end out by making it a suit rather than an actual part of their anatomy. Ah, so many options. Fantasy is so beautifully flexible.
David Bates
Works in progress:
Ciara: A Faun's Tale - 90,000; The K.B.G. - 100,000; Maria and the Jarls of Jotun - 90,000; The Shame that lurks in Stableton - current project; Ezra'il - Plotted. TBC July 2018

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6961
  • Total likes: 4738
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #39 on: April 14, 2015, 10:09:15 PM »
I was thinking of flipping the fish end out by making it a suit rather than an actual part of their anatomy. Ah, so many options. Fantasy is so beautifully flexible.
Love that... suits, yes.
Also, see Seanan Macguire October Daye books. There's a water race that uses skins that they put on. @Elfy will remember details.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline Yora

Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #40 on: April 14, 2015, 10:12:35 PM »
I have an idea to make merpeople straight up spirits. Not just trolls and kobolds kind of creature, but minor sea deities.

I thought it was quite funny when I figured out the meaning of the Japanese name for mermaids. Ningyo simply means "people-fish".
And the more Japanese I learn, the more bland all Japanese names get. There is usually nothing poetic or magical about them at all.  :D

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6961
  • Total likes: 4738
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #41 on: April 14, 2015, 10:16:00 PM »
I have an idea to make merpeople straight up spirits. Not just trolls and kobolds kind of creature, but minor sea deities.

I thought it was quite funny when I figured out the meaning of the Japanese name for mermaids. Ningyo simply means "people-fish".
And the more Japanese I learn, the more bland all Japanese names get. There is usually nothing poetic or magical about them at all.  :D
Imagine if we used "peoplefish" and "flyingdog" and "tall mountains" and "big water", etc. as the exotic-sounding names in our fantasy world. $0 sales, I think?  ;D
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline Elfy

  • Writing contest regular
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 7180
  • Total likes: 755
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Purple Dove House
Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #42 on: April 15, 2015, 12:41:58 AM »
@Jmack - I will look that one up, thanks. It's actually good to see what others have done with such things in the past to develop your own take on them.

@Elfy - I'll also look up that mermaid novella! Funnily enough, mermaids are also one that is sloshing around in my head for some point in time. I was thinking of going with a matriarchal society with a greek inspiration. (Hey, Atlantis!). The one hurdle I was trying to flesh out was how to bridge the gap between water and land. Gills are an easy thing to add, but I was thinking of flipping the fish end out by making it a suit rather than an actual part of their anatomy. Ah, so many options. Fantasy is so beautifully flexible.
It may be tough to get. It was a limited Sub Press edition, but hopefully it will get a wider mass market release. To answer Jmack's comment about the October Daye's and the aquatic race. I believe he's thinking of the selkies. They're a race that put on seal skins to become seals, they divide their time between the water and the land.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline D_Bates

  • Story Critiquaire Extraordinaire and a Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Bridgeburner
  • *****
  • Posts: 526
  • Total likes: 223
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #43 on: April 15, 2015, 05:22:32 PM »
I have an idea to make merpeople straight up spirits. Not just trolls and kobolds kind of creature, but minor sea deities.

I thought it was quite funny when I figured out the meaning of the Japanese name for mermaids. Ningyo simply means "people-fish".
And the more Japanese I learn, the more bland all Japanese names get. There is usually nothing poetic or magical about them at all.  :D

Funnily enough, most names are like that, even with places. If you go back to the language era when they were created, many are simply descriptions of the area or a noticeable trait. For example, a nice irish sounding name like Loughennis just means 'lake with an island'. I believe the biggest river in Russia, the Volga, is a minor change to the russian word for water. I originally called my ant folk Mants as a play on Man/Ant combined, something I got criticised on, yet the same critic suggested I used a term like Myrmidon instead. Myrmidon translated from its greek origins means 'Ant People'--clearly a far superior connotation from back in the time! Even mermaid... I'm not 100% certain of this, but isn't mer a word for water or fish? And maid is unmarried girl. So yea, in it's most basic term mermaid simply means water/fish girls.

My biggest smile came when I discovered Gandalf was an actual norse name that means 'Elf with wand.' When I then found Frodo as 'One who is enlightened by life', and followed that up with Aragorn--a minor alteration of Arathorn which means 'Eagle King'... well, by that stage I stopped worrying about names altogether. Now I tend to think that something pronounceable is much easier to associate with than some made up gibberish. And if you're going to go the route of taking an established name and switching a couple of letters here and there, I think more people will notice that and raise an unimpressed eyebrow moreso than if you'd just used the original version and be done with it.

Great call on the Selkie btw Elfy/Jmack. I vaguely remember them from my rpg days. On a quick glance they seem to be awesomely close to the sort of thing I was considering. Time to add that one to the little notebook to go into greater depth at a later date!
« Last Edit: April 15, 2015, 06:23:33 PM by D_Bates »
David Bates
Works in progress:
Ciara: A Faun's Tale - 90,000; The K.B.G. - 100,000; Maria and the Jarls of Jotun - 90,000; The Shame that lurks in Stableton - current project; Ezra'il - Plotted. TBC July 2018

Offline Elfy

  • Writing contest regular
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 7180
  • Total likes: 755
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Purple Dove House
Re: Here there be Monsters
« Reply #44 on: April 16, 2015, 01:04:05 AM »
Selkies have the advantage of being able to move between the land and water by means of their skins. Seanan McGuire has a fantastic short story about it In Salt Sea Tears, which I believe is still available for free on her website. In regards to the fishtail being a kind of prosthetic, that's very similar to  the commercial 'mermaids'. There are groups of ladies (there may be men, too, I just haven't heard of any) who are professional 'mermaids'. They use prosthetic tails, they're not real obviously, but they're also not cheap flimsy things.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com