Community Week: Guest Post by Kyle Robert Shultz
I had been seeing Kyle's work on my twitter for some time before I picked it up. Not because I didn't want to read it. Mainly because I am writing Science Fiction and when I read a really good book in the fantasy genre, I tend to want to get back to my own fantasy project. And from the reviews, I knew Kyle's book "The Best of Talesend " was going to be incredible.
It was everything I was hoping for and more. It's hard to find a book so flawlessly engaging. Funny, lighthearted and high-stakes, "The Beast of Talesend" was one of my best reads of the year. And you can find it on the list of "recommended reads", a spot very few of the many indie books I've read get.
Kyle has written many more books already and I highly suggest you check them all out. I know I will be...when time allows. For now, enjoy this timely post that Kyle agreed to write for me on Monsters in fiction and be sure to check his social media pages. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Facebook and Wattpad and you can purchase his books on Amazon. You can also find him at his website. And without Further ado, Kyle's post
On Writing Monsters:
I write a lot about monsters. My main character Nick Beasley is currently suffering from a curse that has transformed him into a fairy-tale Beast. Plus, poor Nick and his friends have to fight assorted bogeymen in every single book. I have been accused, on very rare occasions, of writing stories that are too scary. They’re not really that frightening, but Christian readers sometimes question how the darker moments in my books line up with a biblical worldview.
Monsters are a defining element in fiction. The threats they pose and the battles to stop them are what provide the very structure and meaning of many stories. Here, in my opinion, are some reasons why fictional monsters are awesome—in their own horrible way:
They automatically raise the stakes. When a true monster comes on the scene, either human or non-human, the story gets a lot more exciting. Think about when Darth Vader first appears on the screen in Star Wars, or when Galadriel first speaks of Sauron in hushed tones in The Lord of the Rings. Monsters bring with them a pervasive sense of unease. Once their presence is felt, they continue to lurk on the fringes of the imagination even when “off-screen.”
They give a face to human evils or primal fears. The Daleks are the incarnation of hatred. Ares, in Wonder Woman, is the embodiment of conflict and chaos. These characters allow for deeper themes to be woven seamlessly into their stories. Then there are the monster stories that don’t deal with moral concepts, but simply tap into common fears. The Weeping Angels bring the inherent creepiness of statues to life. Bruce Wayne plays upon the superstitious dread of bats to style himself as a gothic nightmare of criminals. Harnessing fears that people can easily identify with makes a story all the more effective.
The battle to defeat the monsters brings depth to your characters, and their defeat heightens the impact of the story’s ending. A truly frightening monster makes a story more gripping. The defeat of a terrifying monster makes a story more satisfying. A well-crafted monster forces the protagonists to grow stronger on the journey towards defeating it. Ideally, everything comes together at the climax in a clash between the monster at the height of its powers and the hero at the height of his or her wisdom.
In my view, writing monsters does not, by definition, glorify the darkness they represent. Instead, it allows the author to “bottle” that darkness, giving it a tangible form and dragging it out into the light where it can be destroyed on a fictional battleground. This is why even stories with very bleak and frightening moments can make us cheer and leave us encouraged. It’s why I’m a Christian writer who goes out of his way to scare people. The destiny of all darkness is to be overwhelmed by light. Someday, the Greatest Hero of all time will deliver the final blow to the prince of darkness. Fiction is an excellent medium for pointing people toward that ultimate victory.
So write scary monsters. And write heroes who scare them.