How to Write the Perfect Monster for Your Creature Feature

Craft a Monster That Will Horrify Your Readers to the Core

5/17/20241 min read

Creature features: one of the most classic and recognizable varieties of the horror genre. Ever since the days of the silver screen, horror fans are suckers for a good monster, from Frankenstein to the Creature from the Black Lagoon to the Wendigo.

If you are writing a creature feature of your own, the most crucial element of your story will be your monster. Without a good monster, your creature feature is going to fall flat.

But how do you go about crafting the perfect monster? What elements go into creating an effectively scary creature? Here are some tips on how to bring your story's monster to life.

Never Reveal Too Much

Do you know why so many successful horror movies never show too much of their monster? There is a simple reason this is such an effective strategy. Anything the human mind can conjure up with will always scarier than anything you could put on screen or paper.

Only show the briefest glimpses of your monster, at least in the beginning. Leave as much to the imagination as you can. Let your audience revel in the mystery.

To go along with not showing too much of your monster, avoid giving them too much detail in their backstory. Too many great horror franchises have been ruined over time with over over-explaining

Not knowing every in and out of your creature's backstory and ability keeps the audience in misery, Only reveal information about your creature that is necessary to the plot. Don't ruin all the mystery with over-explanation

Draw on Real Life Inspiration.

Throughout history, every creature and monster from the myths and legends takes some kind of inspiration from real life, whether that be an animal, something from nature, or even folklore borrowed from other cultures.

Don't worry too much about making your monster completely original. Every piece of art in existence borrows from something else in some way. Borrowing bits and pieces from folklore, other pieces of media, or even real-life animals can make for a much stronger monster.

The best monsters are a mishmash of different elements from existing monsters. Do a bit of research for inspiration for your monster before you start writing your story. It will be well worth the effort.

Make a Visual Representation.

When writing a nonhuman creature into your story, it can sometimes be difficult to conjure a clear enough image in your mind to write a good description. This is where visual representations come in.

You don't have to break the bank to hire an artist to create a perfect visual of your monster. You can put together a collection of images to draw inspiration from.

I suggested creating a board on Pinterest to build a collection of images to draw inspiration from. These can be more literal representations of what you imagine your monster to look like or just images that embody the aesthetic of your monster. Just save anything that you can draw inspiration from.

Make Your Monster Invulnerable

Making your monster too easy to beat takes all the teeth out of it.

This is why you must make your monster invulnerable Not invincible, mind you. Overpowered monsters are a recipe for bored readers. Just don't make them too moral or too human.

invulnerabilities can come in many forms. Maybe your monster has supernatural abilities. Maybe they have an abundance of animal like strength. Maybe they have a heightened intelligence. Maybe they're simply extremely big.

Whatever power you choose to give to your monster, you have to give them just the right balance between power and vulnerability. The monster should not be too overpowered or too easy to kill.

Utilize the Uncanny Valley.

There is a curious little fact about human psychology known as The Uncanny Valley effect that you can make use of in your writing.

The Uncanny Valley Effect is a phenomenon where people feel uneasy around things that look almost human, but not quite.

The Uncanny Valley Effect is a very powerful psychological response that you can utilize in your writing.

Make your monster just barely human-like. Give them a sparse few human features. Make them move in an eerily human-like way. Have fun with it.

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Happy writing!