1. A community of fans, aspiring writers, and published novelists, we are the world's largest - and friendliest! - science fiction and fantasy forums.

    Registration is free, and we regularly give away free books and DVDs.

    So why not join now and meet people with similar interests and tastes in books, movies, and TV?

    Log in with Facebook

    Log in with Twitter

    Dismiss Notice

Description of a monster

Discussion in 'General Writing Discussion' started by Threddy, Apr 15, 2008.


    Threddy Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2006
    Below is a description of a monster that I've just written about in my book.
    Do you think it is scary, well described etc?

    Then, you face the wrath of the Lizarii.’
    The creature dropped its cloak, revealing it’s scaly body. It stood to its full height, slightly taller than a grown man. It blue-green skin and yellow abdomen reflected the sunlight, but people didn’t tend to notice this. They looked at either its long claws or its head, which was elongated and the long mouth had dozens of sharp teeth protruding from it.

    What do you think, any comments welcome.

    ctg weaver of the unseen

    Aug 21, 2007
    Fangs makes it scary, although I prefer to see the monster in action to give a judgement.

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

    Feb 4, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    It's a little removed, a little scientific, for mine. Not immediate enough. Try something like:

    'Then you face the wrath of the Lizarii!'
    The creature unfastened the clasp at its throat, and the cloak slithered over its scaly hide and off its body. As it unfolded itself to its full height, looking slightly down upon them, _______ noticed how the blue-green scales of its back gave way to yellow on its chest, now ablaze in the midday(?) sun. But what struck him most were the thing's black, sickle-like claws and the fangs that protruded from its enlongated mouth.

    Only a quick stab, but it gets the protagonist into the picture and makes the creature more immediately threatening...

    mosaix Shropshire, U.K.

    Feb 13, 2006
    Shropshire, U.K.
    High Threddy.

    Descriptions of monsters is a difficult one. Sometimes what people find scary isn't the first thing that comes to mind. Take a spider, for instance. They are almost universally feared - but why? Or a snake? Or a cockroach?

    Think of things that really scare you, things that would really make you jump if you found one under your bed and try and analyze what it is that that strikes that fear into your heart.

    Is it the glint in an eye (or multiple eyes in the case of a spider), or the noise that a rattle snake makes, or maybe the quick movement of a rat? Although snakes aren't slimy it is the imagination that they are that scares some people, that and the way that they move.

    So, whilst teeth and claws are dangerous they don't tend to scare people half as much as their own imagination.

    If you really want to scare someone, just give them a hint and let their imagination do the rest.

    As an example, with teeth just describe seeing the sharp tip of a yellow tooth but have it glinting and running with saliva (or blood) - leave the rest up to the reader!
    The Pelagic Argosy

    The Pelagic Argosy Well-Known Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    To be honest, it's a little generic...scales, claws, teeth. Can you include the other senses? What does it smell like? What sounds does it make? Is someone in a position to touch it? And, I think it would read better in context, filtered through the eyes of someone who's seeing it and is afraid of it.

    TorrnT purveyor of tall tales

    Mar 25, 2008
    Firstly I agree with Culhwch.
    Secondly this depends solely on your style, but
    I would have preferred more specific height, grown men do not come in one size, so the beast could be 5ft8 or 7ft. (although this alone does not make something scary e.g dogs are not tall or long and can be scary, it does contribute)
    Mosaix also has a good point.
    Good descriptive words, to the point, play on phobias, embellish if you wish (its your creature) but remember don't over do it.
    (remember this all depends on your settings, sometimes knowing little of the creature is more scary than loads of detail).
    describing your creature can create potential fear.
    Its only when you have it in action, that fear will become prevalent to the reader.

    Threddy Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2006
    Thank you for those comments, very helpful.
    Some of you wanted context, well:

    My main character and his companion have just paid a high price to cross a bridge, (there is a bridgekeeper and each end) and now this Lizari(singular Lizarii) has asked them to pay to leave the bridge. Pasadomal(companion) refuses so this creature reveals itself to fight.


    After this, Toshu turns round to shout for help, not realising that the man at the other end was also a Lizari. They fight... etc

    Anyway, thank you.
    Ed - Threddy

    Threddy Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2006
    What noise do you make if your snarling, sort of like growling, but not actually growling, like if your breathing heavily and semi growling? If you see what I mean, which you probably don't.

    Mattastic Active Member

    Apr 12, 2008
    To be honest, very few things are terrifying because they look scary. In fact many of the most dangerous animals in the world don't look scary, despite having sharp teeth, claws, scales, or whatever else. Take a crocodile, which has all of those things, and it really looks like a great big bloated lizard.

    A truly terrifying monster should not be described solely in terms of appearence. Why is this creature such a threat? Is it predatory? If so, describe it as a lurking terror just out of sight until it chooses to strike. Is it intelligent but malevolent? Then explain or hint at its motives and goals. Does it have some supernatural quality that makes it more dangerous than a normal foe? In that case, try and give your characters prior knowledge of that so they know the true risk in facing it.

    There's nothing wrong with its description, but you'll need more to make it truly scary.

    Laerten Aspiring Writer

    Jun 29, 2006
    My little suggestion (it may be a bit flowery!):

    When the bridgekeeper stepped out to block their way, demanding more money for leaving the bridge, Pasadomal flatly refused after the ridiculous amount they had just paid to cross over. He didn't notice Toshu slowly backing away with la ook of pure terror on his face as he was too busy squinting into the sun trying to make out the features of the tall cloaked form before him.

    A slight movement at the front of the cloak revealed a brief flash of yellow scales and he became aware of a strong stench almost like rotten flesh. As he started to move back himself, clawed hands emerged from within the cloak to remove the hood which slithered down the back of the elongated head. Even with the sun behind the creature he could still make out the rows of sharp teeth when lunged at him.
    Marky Lazer

    Marky Lazer Well-Known Member

    Nov 1, 2005
    Descriptions tend not to be scary at all. It's more the things that don't get shown -- the gaps the reader has to fill in for him/herself that are "scary."

Share This Page