Monster Talk

The Frankenstein monster’s inarticulate roar of pain, a werewolf howling at the moon, the hypnotic patter of a seductive vampire, the grunts of Bigfoot as he tromps through the woods and the bellow of Nessie as she breaks the water’s surface in the loch — the language of monsters….

When writing a tale about a monster, sometimes it’s best to keep the monster silent. Let him/her/it slink along on the outskirts of the human world without uttering a sound. Silence acts as a vacuum that absorbs the human experience or becomes a twisted mirror reflecting back a distorted image of what it is to be human. But when monsters talk — they speak volumes … sometimes at a very high volume, too.

For a writer, developing the language of a monster — the internal monolog of a beast or the musings of a more sophisticated monster — is an interesting challenge. What words does a monster use to describe his life? Doe he hunt innocent prey or simply feed? Does a suave vampire justify his ‘dining’ preferences, insisting that the ‘blood donor’ deserves to be a victim?

Human monsters, serial killers and mastermind criminals, often take center stage in mysteries and thrillers. Ruth Rendell, one of my all-time favorite authors, often takes the reader inside the killer’s mind. Her psychological thrillers layer the language that justifies horrific acts of violence with the every day justifications and excuses that pepper the conversations we all have with ourselves.

Think — ‘I’ll just finish that box of cookies and skip dinner’ paired with ‘she had it coming’ and the language of monsters and ordinary people, meld together in a word salad that is difficult to digest without the ‘nice Chianti’ favored by Hannibal Lecter.

When you are writing about monsters, you’ve got to talk the talk while you walk the walk — or strut, fly, dive, ride….


  1. Agree! Agree! Agree! But add that it’s hard to do and even harder to do well.
    With each one of my vokh I have to make a mental shift – is this one like a Dexter? Or is it more like Hannibal Lecter. Or even possibly an honourable [sic] vampire like Anne Rice’s Marius?
    When the point of comparison is as fine as the difference between a sociopathic corporate CEO and a more overt serial killer it’s hard to make the voice of each monster true to type without also being two dimensional.

    • Candy

      I’m in the middle of a MONSTER project — a series of ebooks. The first monster is unapologetic for his behavior in The Mary Shelley Game, but some of the ‘good people’ in the story also claim to have no regrets for their regret-worthy actions. In the second Monster — Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet — I’m occupying the silly corner of the dark universe so I hope there are more chuckles than shivers. This one will be out (fingers crossed) in June.

      But my MONSTROUS monster — POED — is top loaded with the nastiest of nasty monsters. I’m writing it now and the ‘no excuses’ monster mantra is a good one!

      • I confess to being a terrible pollyanna. My brain just automatically tries to find some redeeming qualities in my monsters so I have to grit my teeth and do a lot of rewriting to get them as bad as I know they should be. I’m looking forward to your no-holds barred nasty in POED!

        • Candy

          Of course between POED and now, you’ll see the silly corner of the dark side in my Bram Stoker comedy. At heart, it’s about the monsters we create to divert ourselves from the monsters that surround us. Have I given too much away? Not sure. The definition of comedy is a long, shaggy dog story about a long, shaggy dog.

          • Candy

            In this case, it’s more like a Jack Russell wearing a wig…. but the dog in the story is an old mutt. It’s the cockatoo that causes most of the trouble.

          • A Jack Russell in a wig /and/ a cockatoo????? June? July? is just too far away. More please! Maybe just a little excerpt to whet our appetites? You know, like a dip with crackers?

          • Candy

            Well, the dog doesn’t wear a wig — that’s just a good way to describe his personality and appearance. Remember the excerpt that takes place in a day spa — with the ‘body’ on the table’ like a Egyptian Princess mummy — that’s from Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet…. lol, no more samples (I promised my agent).

          • -slaps forehead- I really am going senile 🙁
            I went back over the older posts and found the POE’d excerpt. And then of course I instantly remembered reading it. My only excuse is that I’ve been non-stop cooking since last night [well I did sleep but you know what I mean] and my brain goes into neutral when I cook. -sigh- It is a form of creativity but not quite the one I’m aiming for….

          • Candy

            Yes, I posted a tiny piece of POED and a tiny piece of Bram too! As for cooking and creativity…. it’s one of my secrets. When I can’t figure my way around a writing problem — freelance or fiction — I cook and, magically, the solution comes by the time the soup is in the pot. Never fails, chop a few onions and the creativity returns.