HomeBooks by SubjectAnimal BooksMary Thompson’s Character Development: What if You Were a Monster?

Mary Thompson’s Character Development: What if You Were a Monster?

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By Mary G Thompson, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: June 23, 2012

Mary G. Thompson

My first novel, Wuftoom, is about a boy who, at the start of the book, is aware of something nobody else knows: He is not sick with an unknown disease; he is transforming into a monster. The monster visits him at night and waits for Evan to fully transform, telling Evan that life will be better once he joins them. Of course, the Wuftoom don’t believe they’re monsters, and they don’t see themselves as ugly and disgusting the way Evan does. Once you are a monster, the whole meaning of the word changes.

What does the word monster mean? My Oxford American Dictionary defines “monster” as “an imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening.” But how do you create something ugly and frightening? Here’s my take on how to do it:

  1. Start with something everybody thinks is gross, like a worm.
  2. Make it waaaay bigger than a normal worm.
  3. Give it a face, but don’t give it a face just like a human’s, with ordinary eyes, nose, mouth, and teeth. Make the eyes different, take the nose away, change the shape of the mouth (I picked a shriveled hole), add fangs.
  4. Give it a distinctive voice: a rasp, a tone, a chortle. And finally,
  5. Give it a (disgusting) smell.

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Now think long and hard about this monster. Draw it. Give it a name. Put yourself in its shoes. If you looked like that monster, what would be a monster to you? If you had a body like a worm’s, maybe it would be weird to see people walking around with knees and elbows and stiff bones. If you had fangs, maybe it would be strange to see people with short, dull, stunted teeth. If your voice was raspy, maybe it would be scary to hear someone talking in a sharp, clear, high voice.

Now think about what you would do if you saw this disgusting giant worm-like monster. Would you scream? Would you cry? Would you beat it with a stick? Would you call it mean names and tell it to go away? Well, now you know why monsters always seem so distrustful of people. Not that they don’t have their bad sides. All I’m saying is, monsters have their own perspectives. And if you were turning into one, you’d have to learn that sooner or later. You might even begin to appreciate the “monster” you have become.

For more information, visit: http://www.marygthompson.com/

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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