Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


Building a better monster, part 2

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

There’s more than one way to skin a loup garou.

That’s a demonic werewolf that literally sheds its skin to become human. In the last monster building installment, I talked about more or less natural monsters, specifically dragons. But, now, I’ll turn my attention to more elusive prey, the supernatural and demonic monster.
The first thing to keep in mind is that these monsters need to follow the Rules, too. But, they tend to have special rules just for them that may, or may not, follow any so-called natural laws. For demons, it may be a series of rituals that will summon and bind them. Or vampires not being able to come out during the day. Whatever the monster, there must be rules to how it lives and acts.
The most well known supernatural monster is probably the demon or devil. And most readers of modern fantasy literature are at least familiar with the story of Faust, even if they know it by another name. Selling one’s soul to the devil is quite common in popular literature. In fact, there have been quite a few movies done about it, but serious and comedic. But, those contracts follow rules. For one thing, they’re legally binding in a court much, much higher than the Supreme Court of the United States. This is big stuff here. Your soul is a pretty valuable commodity. And, it quite often will buy quite a lot.
Or, at least it will seem to buy a lot at first, but these deals never seem to work out quite they way they’re promised. That’s, in fact, one of the demonic rules. The person giving up their soul gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop. But, somehow, in almost all fiction, the hapless human somehow manages to get their soul back in once piece. That, too, seems to be one of the Rules these supernatural creatures follow.
So, even when we cheat, authors have to follow the rules!


Journals and Contests

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Background ideas and a contest.

First, the contest. It’s the Clarke-Bradbury Science Fiction Competition. This is a “hard science” competition in the spirit of Clarke and his invention of the communications satellite years before such a thing was actually created and used. These folks are looking for innovative technology and ways that technology might change the world. Not quite normal fantasist fare, but hey, a writing contest is a writing contest.

Now, to the stuff that intrigues me more. The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Pepys was a prolific journaler who not only recorded his own interesting life, but also discussed events of the day. This website,, presents his nine-volume journal in a contemporary format; a blog. This is great inspiration for my own experimental fiction idea of creating a journal of a fiction character via a blog. Way, way, cool.
The creator of the blog, Phil Gyford, was interviewed by the BBC in an article titled “Why I turned the Pepys Diary into a Web Log“. It’s a fairly interesting read and a great introduction to who Pepys was and why he matters. Way, cool, again.
It’s nice to know that great minds think alike, but it does kind of stink to realize that my idea isn’t quite as original as I had thought.


Building a better monster

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening.
The moon is a New Moon

Build a better monster and the victims will beat a path to your door.

Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you get the idea. There was a show on Animal Planet of all things that really got me thinking about this. It was called The Future is Wild and it was all about ways that present day animals may evolve in the future. Some of them were pretty far out, but still, they were pretty reasonable. The animal world is full of surprises and quirks, so some really odd things are not only possible but already happening! Of course, they were talking about “real” animals and not fantasy creatures, but, still I think it’s important to pay pretty close attention to the “little details” when I’m building a fantasy monster. Whether it’s a dragon, an ogre, or a demon, they still have to be believable, consistent, and reasonable, after a fashion.
In short, they have to follow the Rules, whatever those rules may be. For something that’s more or less natural like an ogre or a dragon, they have to follow certain so-called natural laws. They eat, which means they hunt and/or gather. Because they eat, they excrete as well. They sleep and mate, which means they need a lair of somekind. Sure, dragons may violate what some of us preceive to be laws of aerodynamics if they fly, though there is some debate on that, but otherwise, they need to act like really big animals.
For instance, since they’re big, they need to eat a lot. That means that they’ll be carnivores. They’ll have to get the most “bang for their buck”, as it were, so they’ll eat meat. Meat provides the most calories for volume. And I figure it takes a lot of calories to fly and breathe fire. But, they may also be omnivores. After all, something that needs that many calories can’t be too picky about what it eats! It just has to get fuel any which way it can. So, its eating habits will determine its hunting habits. Or, even if it has hunting habits at all.
But, what an animal eats can also determine what their mating habits are like. How’s that, you wonder? Well, if an animal needs a lot of food, it needs a pretty big territory and not much competition. So, members of its own species tend to get run off as unwanted competition, including members of the opposite sex. Unless, of course, it hunts in packs. Let’s say our dragon is a loner. What does that mean to its reproductive cycle?
Well, I’d imagine that the poor female gets to lay eggs and possibly tend them. Sort of like what Bakker suspects many species of dinosaur did. But, they could be more like aligators, who lay their eggs and then abandon them to fend for themselves. Aligators mate once a year, according to Jeff Corwin of Animal Planet, and then spend the rest of the year in competition for food. Pretty brutal, but that’s perfect for our monster. The more brutal the monster, the more heroic the dragonslayer.
From those little suppositions and speculations, we can really flesh out a pretty good and believable dragon. But, it all comes from following Mother Nature’s rules. And, of course, doing our homework. Gotta’ know what those rules are if we’re going to follow them. So, stop watching the latest Evil Dead movie and flip over to National Geographic or Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel and see what’s happening in the animal world. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

Keep a lookout for a follow up article on creating more “realistic” demons.
Until then, keep writing!

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