can you believe this is pretty much the first time i’ve ever been asked this?
i summarize the monster narrative on my about page: what is the monster? why is it a monster? does it regret being a monster? does it love being a monster?
and so to me the monster narrative is any story that revolves around monstrosity, often falling under one of those questions and using at least one of them to build a more specific story off of that.
- what is the monster?
does something Happen to someone that makes them a monster? are monsters born? are they made? do we need an explanation? is your story about finding an explanation for the monster, or is it about discovering the monster in the first place? is this alien – is the monster always in the shadows, lurking through the whole movie, are you holding your breath and watching the flick of tail and the shine of teeth? is one of your characters the monster? does someone have to be the monster? is there always a monster?
and what is the monster? is the monster a literal beast, teeth and claws and the growl in the pit of the throat? is the monster just the Other, the thing that Is Not You? is the monster a villain, and why is that villain a monster, and is there a difference between villains and monsters? are you the monster? is the monster every part of yourself that you do not want to be?
- why is it a monster?
what makes characters monsters? this ties into the initial point: does something have to Happen, in order to make a monster? are you seeking an explanation? why are you doing that? why are we so eager to find our monsters? did you make your own monster? are you desperate to find a monster that makes you into the Not Monster? why is that?
is your story going back into the monster-past and unraveling the monster? is your story confronting prior assumptions? is your story exploring the monstrosity that is a part of all of us? is this the 100 – do we all have a monster inside of us, and are we all responsible for what it does when we let it out? why, why is it a monster?
- does it regret being a monster?
is the story about a monster trying to change – because of love, because of self-love, because of remorse? does it keep hurting anyways? can it not change? why? can it change? why? what caused the regret in the first place? was it a person? what makes this person different, really?
can monsters change? are they always doomed to be the things they were? let’s step back: what is the monster? why is it that once you call something a monster, it can never be anything else? why are we not allowed to be anything but the people we were? are we giving the monster another chance? why are we doing that?
if it regrets, if it changes, if it grows: what now? does it have nightmares? does it wake up in the mornings with aching teeth? is change easy, one step, or every time it sees a knife does it ache? what is it, now that it is Not A Monster? or is it a monster still? are you always a monster? are you just a better one, now? or is this beauty and the beast – once loved, do your fur and claws and teeth melt away like they were never there?
is it enough? is it enough? is it enough?
- does it love being a monster?
why choose monstrosity over other things? does love hurt too much? does love not hurt enough? is this what the monster thinks will get it love? has it never wanted love? why? why do we build our monster-stories around love, anyways?
what makes monstrosity feel good? what problem does it solve? why does it love being a monster? why does it love being a monster?
or, in short: the monster narrative is a story about a monster. here is the river, and here is the box, and here are the monsters we put in the box to test our strength against. monster stories are necessary stories. monster stories tell us things about ourselves, and our monsters, and we who are our monsters. and i love every single permutation of them, teeth and all.