Writing Monsters: Book, Blurb & Collage

Writing Monsters

A collection of phrases and quotes from the book, Writing Monsters, written by Philip Athans.  If you click the image you will be teleported to my Flickr where the image lives in high-res.  As always, it’s free to share and use however you would like.

riting Monsters
, by Philip Athans, has been on my list of books to showcase here on QE for a while now.  Why?  Because it is one of the most entertaining and well written books I have found on the subject matter.  Before I go into my blow-by-blow, you can check out the book on [Amazon] or [goodreads].

A Refined List

There’s a big list of things that really made this book appeal to me.  To make my bias apparent, I’m going to make a slight deviation from my normal blueprint and offer a short list.  Some of these things may seem silly to you all, and some of these things may make you foam at the mouth and impulse buy the book (or snag it from the library).

  1. Philip Athans is awesome.  There, I said it.  I’m a fanboy of his, and he actually maintains a WordPress blog called Fantasy Author’s Handbook, which he updates every Tuesday.  There is a massive amount of information to be mined from his page.
  2. In our continuing study of character archetypes, I wrote a post called Writing Characters & Role Playing Games a few weeks ago.  In it, I talked about how the computer game Baldur’s Gate blew my mind and really made me examine character archetypes when I was younger.  Well, Philip Athans wrote the book on it.  By that, I mean he literally wrote the official Forgotten Realms book, Baldur’s Gate.
  3. Why am I sharing all of this?  For transparency.  I’m obviously biased toward this author, and I like to be honest with you all.  With that being said, let’s talk about this book.

writing monsters.jpgThis book, for me, is solid because it covers a wide range of topics regarding how to write monsters.  More so, because it uses a number of examples and cited works to bolster and emphasize points.  Athans uses examples from literature (spanning from historic works all the way to modern time), movies, and even video games.  For my gamer friends (console, computer, and D&D), you are going to feel very comfortable flipping through these pages as Athans uses these mediums as tools to provide information to the reader.

Writing Monsters also does a phenomenal job of defining the physical, psychological, and emotional characteristics of monsters from almost all genres.  While this book is shorter and more current, at times I felt like I was reading the “monster version” of Joseph Campbells’ book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  The only difference being Campbell provides a sweeping mythological look at the hero throughout time, while Athan pinpoints certain monsters to drive the purpose of his book.

The book is broken into three main parts: What They Are, Why They’re Here, and How to Write Them.  While all parts are very insightful, I found the chapters within, Why They’re Here, to be especially enjoyable.  In this section of the book, Athans talks about monsters as metaphors, obstacles, agents, sources of pity, sources of magic or technology, and how they bring out the good and bad in people.

In short, if you are struggling with coming up with concepts for monsters, or simply curious about them, this book provides some very interesting and fun information.  Also, this book serves as a great tool to find other relevant sources of inspiration.  I did a quick scan of the cited sources and Athans uses more than thirty books and short stories to drive his narrative.  That by itself is a gold mine if you are entrenched in these genres.

question-markThat’s it for today.  If you are curious about some of the other writing books I have read you can check out a listing of them I made by clicking right here.  I’m constantly eating my greens, and I encourage you to do the same.  If you have a book recommendation, I would love to hear about it!  I’m always looking for more books to devour.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

23 responses

    • It’s a really enjoyable read. In addition to the things I listed, he also provides page long descriptions of different popular monsters too. It’s a sort of bestiary. If anything, the book is a great reference that offers breadcrumbs to find others.

      Good luck with your work and happy writing. I hope you do toss a monster into the mix one of these days!

      Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds like a really fun and challenging project! Best of luck to you with it and have a good time with the nano project. I hope you toss together a best seller that will give Dante a run for his money.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Christmas is coming. Thanks for this reminder! I should probably start buying present now and avoid the last minute insanity…

      I hope you do give the book a whirl. It’s a fun read – and come on – it’s about monsters!

      Liked by 2 people

    • It’s pretty enjoyable, and I hope you do manage to squeeze it into you schedule. It was sort of refreshing to find a book that referenced current examples (like the Walking Dead) as well as antiquated ones. It seems so much of my reading as of late has focused only on classic works, so for me, this was a breath of fresh literary air.

      Thanks for swinging in today and happy reading 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I remember you talking about this in the past! It seems like it would be a phenomenal read! I may just have to look this up and buy it! ^_^

    Also, bonus points go to you for transparency. Not everyone will do that even if their bias is obvious. I respect that.

    Cheers! ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel you would really enjoy this one given your skill in creating monsters (human monsters) and your joy of video games. I really smiled seeing references to Bioshock as an example of a game that uses ambient sound to enhance fear and tension. Then I checked out his WordPress and couldn’t believe he had written so many game specific books that I absolutely adored.

      So yeah, I had to share my bias. Plus, this bias may help other people stumble over to his work if they share similar ones.

      Speaking of monsters…I need to go see what your latest creations have been!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Meant to respond, just was too tired and busy so apologies. Xp I wanted you to know BioShock is awesome! Also, before I get sidetracked by talking about gaming, you should know I have no doubt this one will be a good one.

        I’m adding it to a list of books I plan on picking up once we are settled into the new place. Thank you for sharing Corey! ^_^

        Cheers! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • No worries, I understand how the tired body works (or doesn’t). Not only did I love the Bioshock games, I really loved the story and concepts behind them. It really felt like I was exploring something that could possibly have existed…as outlandish as that sounds.

        Hope the move (if you’ve started already) is going well. We might also be moving here in a few months. The life of the nomadic hermit and all that…

        Liked by 1 person

      • I totally understand the life of the nomadic hermit lol! Xp I also agree completely that Bioshock felt like a real living, breathing world. The first one especially with Rapture, but even New Colombia was great in the 3rd. I think that’s what it was called. I can’t remember.

        Thanks for being understand. I’m taking it a little easier today so if I don’t get around to reading a bunch of stuff, it’s because I need to breath for a moment lol. It’s been a lot of things but rest assured, I’ll continue posting.

        I’m just having a lot of trouble keeping up and have been overdoing it trying to keep up with everyone I.E. Trying to comment on everything I read when also trying to move and life.

        We have 9 days left…but technically less because we are turning in the keys early and I’m taking next Thursday and Friday to move out and move in so to speak. I will be without Internet sometime next week until we get things going again.

        So, yeah, that is going to be tricky, but I’ll make things work. I hope things work out for you all as well and I’ll get back to reading and commenting proper on everyone’s stuff again once we are settled into the new place.

        Today I’m going to try and zen a bit as my body has been telling me I need to breathe. Prob watch Anime on NetFlix. Thanks again for all your continued support sir. It means a lot. I love reading your articles. They are so insightful and I learn so much.

        Good luck with your possible move as well. Also thanks for the patience. Cheers! ^_^


  2. I’m not usually a man who likes his greens, but I think I’ll make an exception here. There’s just too much information on a subject I don’t find a lot of material on. As usual Corey, you find something to make me think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As far as greens go, this one was a lot of fun. There were some elements in this book that made me think of a certain monster you’ve created in 1,200. I think you’ll find some good takeaways.

      Thanks for stopping in today, Matt.

      Liked by 1 person

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