Conquer Your Monsters #WIPs

Hi, SEers! You’re with Mae today.

Remember when you were a kid, afraid of monsters? They exist in writing, too. Bet you didn’t expect that, but take it from me—your resident cryptid, monster lover—not all strange creatures are bad. Let’s remember that Mary Shelly’s creation—Frankenstein’s monster—was actually a sensitive, articulate soul. He started out as something hideous, cadaver parts stitched together and an appearance that made others react with revulsion and terror.

Monsters aren’t always what they seem. Today, I’d like to know if you have a monster in your backlog of stories. One that haunts you and won’t leave you alone. A story that has been cobbled together of plot threads over the years.

spooky monster hovering in background on foggy night, silhouette of man in foreground

The “haunting” usually begins as a solid idea. The story has a start, a middle, and a solid finish. For a while it even seems exceptional, but with the passage of time, the concept erodes. It demands tinkering. And like Victor Frankenstein, we look at our creation and deem it unworthy. We start removing parts, stitching in others. It gets set aside. Again and again. Forgotten about as other projects consume us. In the grand scheme of things, despite all the tinkering we’ve done, we can’t “fix” the problems to our satisfaction.

Years past. Your creation gathers dust. But monsters are never content being forgotten. Other projects come and go. Some get rejected, never to be resurrected. But this monster is different. Like legends of old, it refuses to die.

You remove characters, add others, change plot threads. Tweaking, tweaking, tweaking. Because, above all else, you believe in the story. Something in it insists on being told.

My monster has haunted me for decades. Part of me wants to kick it to the curb and forget it exists, but “something” keeps me going back over and again, refusing to let it crumble into dust. After decades, it’s still a work in progress. Despite the passage of time, reshuffling characters and plot, the core of the story serenades like a siren. I can’t abandon it. My monster wants his day in the spotlight, cobbled together, stitches, cadaver parts, and all.

Can you relate? Hauntings have a purpose. I want to hear about yours. Let’s talk monsters in the comments.

Ready, set, go!

Bio box for author, Mae Clair

68 thoughts on “Conquer Your Monsters #WIPs

  1. This problem is one of the reasons I like NaNoWriMo–‘of course it’s going to suck when I write this fast, so I can hastily stab the monster as long as I’m here anyway, and if he bleeds all over the manuscript, I’m already onto the next scene…’ There’s a lot to be said for dear, sweet NaNo.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m a huge fan of NaNoWriMo. My first “win” resulted in a contracted novel, and my last “monster” developed into a complete ms thanks to NaNo. It’s great for conquering monsters, even if the writing standard is constant fast-forward, LOL. Happy writing and beating those monsters into submission.


  2. Mae, you jewel. What a fabulous post. I love how you compared the creation of some stories to Frankenstein’s monster. How apt. I got a kick out of Staci’s term “Franken-story” too.
    I have stories like that too, with monsters that are real and metaphorical. From November 2019 and all through 2020 I worked on one, Wheel of Fortune. Unfortunately, I added a real life monster from my childhood, hoping to exorcise the demon. And it made it too hard to work on. Worse, that “monster” is too core to the story to remove it. I miss the characters and the world… and truly hope to get back and finish it.
    Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi, Teagan. Wow, when you’re that close to a story (as you are in your WIP) the monster might be far harder to exorcise. I can see why it would come back and haunt you as a Frankenstory.I I’ve had a monster that has lingered for decades, but there is nothing personal involved, just trying to find the right medium for it. I hope you’re able to find a balance with yours and that at some point you’ll be able to clobber it into submission! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. When I was a kid, we watched the movie Jaws. Somehow that shark seemed to be the hunter instead of the hunted (obviously). Now, in my forties, I know monsters can have several meanings. Like the movie/book Jaws, I would say Quinn was just as much a monster as the shark was—anything/anyone can be the monster.

    In relation, I learned in my later years the “shapeshifter” character in writing. You can have a monster that is harmless; a giant that is helpful; an ugly mass that is beautiful on the inside; or prince charming who will slit your throat in your sleep. I guess what I’m saying is monsters can real, imaginary, or huge risks to one’s death stakes in a story.

    Love the post. Definitely something to come back to as I write my next book.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. LOL. I love the metaphor, Mae. No monsters lurking in my writing room, fortunately. When they show up, I trap them in my laptop, and tap them into submission – the result of a one-thing-at-a-time mentality. My compulsive personality can’t tolerate those monsters, though have a few under the bed for future inspiration doesn’t sound so bad. Fun post.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Hi Mae, monsters in the writing drawers or on the computers of writers seems to be quite a common thing. I have a number of half finished manuscripts. They are unfinished for different reasons to what you have cited here though. I have just lost interest in them for the time being because something more interesting has come along.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi, Robbie. I think that interest shift happens to all of us. But I also think that of all those abandoned manuscripts and story ideas there will be one or two that refuse to fade into the background. That’s the monster that lingers for years, even decades to come. I know my own Frankenstory has haunted me since I was in my twenties. One of these days/years I will see it finished.
      In the meantime, those new ideas that divert us in another direction are perfect for keeping our muse engaged. Happy writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Can monsters have other manifestations? Like depression, war, alcoholism, mental illness, dysfunctional families. I write a lot of poetry too and I find that some of those are like Frankenstein. I keep lopping off limbs and adding new parts each time and it still doesn’t work even though what it is trying to describe is still beautiful and important.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi, DJM. I think monsters can take many different forms, especially for poets. I’ve dabbled in poetry and I know it’s an entirely different creature than writing a novel. Keep lopping off those limbs and binding up other endings until you find the perfect fit. I know, that like mine, your monster can be conquered too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My current WIP is my “monster.” Technically, the main character is the king of all demons and deminions. I’ve been trying to write his story for 2+ years. I’m determined to finish it this year (12 months, not 2021…lol!). 😉

    Liked by 4 people

  8. An interesting post, Mae. I don’t have one of those story monsters hanging around. Perhaps it’s because I only started this type of writing journey in 2013. But, I do have a song monster that’s been lingering for a while now. I called it “Hunger.” And I keep revisiting the lyrics and feeling like there is a good message somewhere in it. Maybe one day it will come together. Thanks for sharing and Happy Monday!

    Liked by 4 people

    • It’s true that most monsters come from long-ago works that just refuse to die so that could be why you don’t have a story monster in residence, Jan. It does, however, sound like you have a song monster. Same type creature, I suspect 😉
      I hope you manage to tame it one of these days!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Absolutely, Mae! I have a creepy paranormal thriller on my hard drive that keeps drawing me back. I love the storyline and the characters, but I wrote most of it in my pre-published days. Needless to say, it needs a total rewrite. For about a year I forgot all about it when the MC whispered in my ear, “Remember me?” Alas, I still haven’t gotten back to it. Someday, maybe. Never say never, right?

    Liked by 3 people

    • You definitely have a monster haunting you, Sue. I suspect that one will be persistent until you finally resurrect it. My Franken-story was written in my pre-published days, first as a novella, then as a complete novel. Neither are any good so I’m faced with a complete rewrite as well. But I’m determined. I think it may turn into my NaNoWriMo project this November! 🙂
      And you KNOW I would love a creepy paranormal thriller. I hope you do return to that manuscript at some point down the road. I would love to read it!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I can’t say I have one of these by your description. I gave up on a project one time, because it just wasn’t working. I doubt it will ever get resurrected. Many of my stories take years to come together on storyboards, so maybe that’s how I solved the problem. I hope your Frankenstein-story returns soon.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The story is still muddling around in my head, Craig. I’ve had a few ideas that I gave up on early in the process, but this one has been a complete novella and a complete novel in the past. As written, neither of them work, but I have too much invested in the idea to let it die. If you ever do encounter one of these monsters, they tend to resurrect themselves! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Yes, I have a monster. It has a head and tail, but his body is transparent. Not at all clear, and he often changes shape.
    One day, I’ll make him show his true shape, I swear.

    And I liked Frankenstein’s monster, too, and felt so sorry for him. All he wanted was love and acceptance.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m in the same spot with my monster, V.M.—the head and tail are there but the body is a mass of confusion and parts that don’t fit. He’s changed shape so many times I’ve lost count. I’m sticking with you, however, determined that one day we will make these monsters find their true shape.

      And I too felt so bad for Frankenstein’s monster. It says a lot when an author makes you feel that kind of empathy.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. The so-called monster in Mary Shelley’s story was my favorite character. I loved him, and my heart broke for him because he suffered constant rejection. But that’s not what this post is about.

    I’ve had Franken-stories, and while I swore like a sailor as I worked on them, they tended to be among my best works when I finished them. I think the ones that linger in the deep recesses of our minds for a long time are the ones that work best in the end. Kind of like broth—the longer it simmers, the better the flavors meld.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Dear Mae,
    interesting your ideas about monsters. Well, the monsters live in our subconscience and our conscience is always afraid of the subconscience. Monsters are the personification of our fears. But no creativity without those monsters.
    Thanks for sharing
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree monsters definitely spur our creativity and refuse to let it die. Even when we think a particular idea (or character) isn’t quite right, monsters are there to reworking it our subconscious until they can drag it back into the light of day and our conscious minds. I love your thought. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Good grief! And I thought I was the only one who had a monster hiding in a drawer that roars at me each time I put yet another pile of papers on top of it. Thank you, Mae – sighing with relief. But still firmly closing the drawer. For now, at least!

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Great post, Mae :)Yes, I’ve had monsters haunt me until I finally found their story. It may take years but the story becomes clear at some point. I’m glad they hang on and fight for their story l.

    Liked by 6 people

    • They do have a tendency for tenaciousness! I have a lot of story ideas come and go with no complications, but then there are the monsters. Or in my case THE monster, as I’ve really only had one haunt me this way. I think the characters will eventually get their story told!

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Pingback: Pool Time and Reading | From the Pen of Mae Clair

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