I love Halloween. The rustle of the leaves, the cool of the night, the damp shine of a rain-slicked street, the quiet of fog. I love the flicker of candles in jack-o-lanterns and black cats (I’m very partial to black cats), the caramel apples and chocolate everything. The only part of Halloween I’m not crazy about is the scary part. I’m much more of a Disney scary movie girl than a Freddie Krueger kind of girl. I like my monsters on the light side, like mayo.
The thing about monsters, for me, is that nothing is scarier to me than what human beings can do to one another and animals. I can’t make myself believe in ghosts or sasquatches or werewolves. Even if those things do exist, how many times do they actually attack human beings? How many documented cases of murder by ghost are reported each year? Human beings, well, that’s another story completely. They scare the daylights out of me.
But monsters, the really scary kind, whether they are human or otherworldly, make for great stories. As writers, we have to seek out the monsters in our stories to create tension. Every protagonist needs an obstacle. Even if that obstacle isn’t, technically speaking, a monster, it needs to act as a monster. It needs to knock the protagonist to his knees and make him fight for his life, whether that’s literally or figuratively. Monsters are the stakes in the story, the obstacle that wants to take away the protagonist’s dreams. And every story deserves a monster as scary as Samuel Whiskers, an obstacle that can materially alter the course of the protagonist’s life for the worse. It can be hard to unleash monsters on our protagonists. We love our protagonists, because, after all, we create them. They are like our children, so we don’t really want to put them through the darkness that a true test will. Our instinct is to shelter and protect them. But just like our real children, our protagonists must face the world with all its darkness, and we can only hope we’ve given them the strength and tools they need to succeed. Okay, with our protagonists, we get to choose if they do, so it’s a lot better than when we have to watch our kids struggle through life. So bring on the monsters in your stories not just at Halloween, but all year. Your readers will thank you for it.emma
Spooky Tortie

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