( It's been a long time since I last posted on this blog. I've given some thought to posting once again in 2014, but a recent forum thread gave me the inspiration to write this post. )
The world is full of stories where man battles a savage beast. But in fantasy and horror those creatures are often more than what mother nature intended and the hero is forced to struggle against a creature of supernatural origins. Sometimes though, coming up with just such creatures cause angst in many writers. Here are three easy ways to generate a creature worthy of a hero for the ages.1. SUPERSIZE IT!
Classical examples: giant spiders, giant sea creatures, giant insects
The first method is rather quite simple. Give the creature a dose of gigantism. Anything becomes dangerous when it’s much larger than your hero. Bilbo Baggins struggled against giant spiders, Captin Nemo fought against giant squids, and Jack had trouble once he climbed a giant beanstalk and ran into giant men. Even a sweet, little rabbit will become dangerous when it’s the size of a tank.
Most creatures once turned into giants will have their strength multiplied. And if the animal has special attack weapons, they become even more dangerous--Watch out for that giant lobster!
2. COMBINE TWO CREATURES
Classic examples: minotaur, centaur, werewolf
Another age old method to create a cool monster is to take a beast in your left hand and a beast in your right--and smash them together. The resulting beast will have a unique appearance and way of acting based on how you want to arrange the parts:
a. head and body
A minotaur is just a man’s body with a bull’s head attached to it. The Egyptians believed in gods who had a man’s body and another creature’s head. Anubis had a jackal’s head, Sekhemet the head of a lion, Horus the head of a bird.
b. merged humanoid
A merged humanoid is a creature that has a man’s body (head, hands, legs, torso), but they’re in animal form. A good example of this is the werewolf. When the full moon rises the werewolf comes out to hunt and the man completely gives way to the beast. OWWWWWWWWWWW!
A unique creature is one where a primary attribute of one creature is given to another. Take a bird’s wings and put them on a horse and you have Pegasus. Take a bird’s wings and put them on a man and you have a birdman. Figure out what’s special about a particular animal and then give that attribute or skill to another one.
d. half and half (no you don’t want to put this in your coffee)
The last method of combining two creatures is to make one half of the creature one animal and the other half another. From the waist up a centaur is a man, from the waist down he’s a horse. From the waist up a satyr is a man (except for the horns on it’s head), but from the waist down it’s a goat. Figure out a way to bisect two beasts, then figure out which halves you want to combine together.
# Special Note:
One thing you may want to consider when you combine a creature with a human in the above methods is how humanized that creature becomes. A creature that has a man’s body, or a man’s upper half, or a is just a man with a creature’s unique gift is that the new creature may still act in a human manner. The creature may have language, culture, cities, intellect, tribes, and customs. If so, consider how the animal part affects that group. Think about how the combination changes the man.
3. COMBINE MORE THAN TWO CREATURES
Classic example: chimera, sphinx, hippogriff
There are a few creatures that are a hodgepodge of beast when it comes to how they’re thrown together. They combine more than two creatures into one. For example the sphinx has a man’s head, a lion’s body, and an eagle’s wings. When you want to create such a patchwork beast consider these parts of its body: head, body or torso, limbs (arms and/or legs), and maybe a tail. Combine the parts together and you have something no one would want to meet in a dark alley.
I wrote this for Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge. I hope you like it!
by A.R. Williams
photo by dhannte
Alejandro clutched the tiny flag that the woman at the desk had given him, bundled up in his fist. The overly bright lights in the room cast a harsh glare against the windows, making it hard to see out. He perched on his toes, elbows digging into the grate of the A.C. unit, face pressed against the glass and stared both at the road that led to the building and the twinkling blackness of the night sky. They hadn’t started yet, there was still time.
Alejandro nibbled on his lip and tightened his fingers about the flag. The officer at the door, ordered everyone to rise and form a line. Alejandro’s father stood, pulled him away from the window and into the group of adults. Trapped between them as they shuffled forward, Alejandro marched out into the humid night.
Headlights shone over the horizon, white hot like the stars in the sky. The bus pulled up just as everyone finished exiting the building. It stopped in front of them, engine growling, brakes screeching. The doors hissed open.
“Let’s go people, get on board,” the officer yelled.
They bunched together and slowly began to board, one by one. Alejandro and his father were near the front of the line. Climbing the steps, Alejandro raced to the back, weaving between people. The radio blared in the background.
“Yankees versus Rangers, bottom of the ninth, and what could possibly be the last batter of the game making his way to the plate.”
Alejandro jumped into the back seat and stared back at the building. The seat moved as his father sat down beside him. Was he too late? Did he miss it?
A crack split the air like the sound of wood breaking.
“It’s a home run. He’s going home! Rangers win! Rangers win.”
The bus lurched forward, forcing Alejandro back against the seat. He kept his eyes glued to the sky, waiting patiently. Just as he was about to turn away, it happened. Fireworks burst into the air: Red, White, and Blue. Alejandro smiled and unfurled his flag, waving it from side to side.
“Papa,” he said, pointing.
His father looked and nodded, then turned back around.
(C) copyright 2011. A.R. Williams
In the wake of the destructive tornadoes which ripped through Alabama on April 27th, 2011, Southern Fried Weirdness Press is proud to present the charity anthology, Southern Fried Weirdness: Reconstruction. This collection of poetry and short fiction features 46 pieces from 40 different contributing authors. It spans multiple genres and presents an eclectic mix of voices. All profits will be donated to The American Red Cross to aid disaster relief efforts.
Now available at Smashwords in multiple formats. Here is the link to buy: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/595
The Table of Contents:
1.) They Are Not Gone Forever by Stephanie Osborn
2.) God in the Sky by An Owomoyela
3.) Make Your Bed Downriver by Jens Rushing
4.) Live Bait Works Best by Brian Rosenberger
5.) The Music of Bremen Farm by Mike Allen
6.) Out of Natural by Jason Huskey
7.) In The Days When Blocks Were For Tires, And The Dusk Chose A Sideways Approach by Jason Huskey
8.) In the Ghost Hours by Jason Huskey
9.) The Old Man's Sweet by Jason Huskey
10.) Planting by Mari Ness
11.) Talking Alligator (Blues) by Sara Amis
12.) Sisyphus Explains by Sara Amis
13.) Lady Glory and the Knave of Spades by Nicole Kornher-Stace
14.) Meditation on a Deer at Night by Berrien C. Henderson
15.) Navel Gazing by T.J. McIntyre
16.) Directions by T.J. McIntyre
17.) Why by T.J. McIntyre
18.) The Fisherman's Tale by T.J. McIntyre
19.) Swimming in Old Spring by Eric T. Marin
20.) Giant Cicadas and Other Odd Indignities by Dr. Philip Kaldon
21.) Billy Anne's Box by Charlotte Jones
22.) Commander Perry's Mystic Wonders Show by Jaime Lee Moyer
23.) The New Elementals by Marshall Payne
24.) Judy and Norman by Darby Harn
25.) The Moon and the Stars by Marian Carcache
26.) Pride and Joy by Gustavo Bondoni
27.) Square Hills by H. Courreges LeBlanc
28.) The Wind by Marcia Gerhardt
29.) I Keep a Vine Woven Basket by the Front Door by Rae Bryant
30.) Up Above the Dead Line by F. Brett Cox
31.) Annabelle Tree by Carrie Cuinn
32.) Who Mourns for Washington by Fabio Fernandes
33.) Suffer the Rains by Craig Wallwork
34.) The Yearning of the Lighthouse Fairies by Brenda Blakey
35.) The Groundskeeper's Tale by Wendy S. Delmater
36.) The White Months by Christopher Woods
37.) Your Enemies Will Devour You by Richard Thomas
38.) The Sweet Song of Canaries at Midnight by Jude-Marie Green
39.) Nature Story by Walter Giersbach
40.) Alchemy by Michael Ray
41.) The Legend of Old Man Joad by Marsheila Rockwell
42.) Hanging the Woman in Blue by Monette Chilson
43.) Till Death Do Us Part by Kenneth Mark Hoover
44.) Neopolitician by Shaylen Maxwell
45.) Utnapishtim on Friday After Dessert by Danny Adams
46.) The Evidence of Things Unseen by Chuck Russell