Sunday, April 03, 2005

Writing a Monster

First you dig up the body; the past, the skeletons in the closet, the buried truths, all those stories and overheard conversations you've been waiting to use. Then you put the pieces into some kind of order by writing a rough draft. Next, you pump it full of energy, electricity, hope and terror, until it begins to breath. This is the first, second and third drafts. Once your monster is moving, you get it under control quickly, before it tears up all the paper in the house and destroys your lap top. Only then can you teach it to speak. That's the final draft.

There will always be problems. Editors may demand your monster learn to dance so you'll need to spend hours in the studio forcing it to waltz in steel toed boots. Or maybe the publisher really wanted a translucent, blond female and you've built a giant, drooling male with bad body odor. Your agent may love the monster, but thinks it would do better in a red suit rather than the black one you found, so you will have to strip him down, which he won't like, and force the new suit on. Be careful not to tear it.

When at last your monster is released into the world, will it be met with applause, or pitchforks and torches? Will it be happy on its own, or return to its master, beaten and desperate. Perhaps it will come home angry and try to kill you, its creator. Maybe the Monster will ask you for a bride and you'll have to go back to the graveyard and dig up more bodies to write about. Because once you build one monster, you usually wind up with a whole family of them, living in you cellar, demanding attention.

Here's my monster.