There have been times when I’ve used a huge monster in my stories. Legends of Windemere had dragons and various giant species. War of Nytefall had vampirized giants and other massive beasts. They were fun to write, but I always wondered if I did them justice. After all, they depend a lot on suspension of disbelief and the audience’s imagination.
Television, video games, and movies have it much easier. They show you how big these creatures are, so everyone gets the same visual. There’s no questioning how big Godzilla is because you see him there. When show in contrast to people and cities, you get a sense of how dangerous it is to be around him. It’s instinctive in a way since we’re working entirely off our senses. Our imagination doesn’t have to put much effort into crafting the scene since it’s right in front of us. Sadly, books don’t have this luxury.
Authors have to craft the scene and stir the imagination to bring these monsters to life, which can dance around the ‘show don’t tell’ accusation. To some extent, you have to tell the person that this threat is BIG. Showing that they are through actions and adjectives doesn’t always work. Sometimes you simply have to say ‘the giant dragon’ and beat the reader over the head with the fact that this thing is massive. Otherwise, you get a few people who downplay the scale in their mind and that can change the way that the scene works. Part of is that because everyone has their own definition of what constitutes a huge monster. One person may think elephant while another one thinks skyscraper even if the story gives hints of size.
I try my best to describe my giants with terms that make it clear that they’re big. If they’re in a forest or city then I make sure to note that things are getting damaged as they move around. Objects that are typically impossible to move are thrown or knocked around like they’re made of paper. For example, a wagon or shed getting hurled across a clearing can be a good indicator of size. Having someone view them from a distance and note how they tower over nearby things helps. Describe the setting in a way that focuses on how everything around the giant appears smaller and fragile. Combining these tricks should help in getting the point across.
With fantasy, I believe giant beasts are a staple whether it be humanoid, demon, dragon, trees, or golems. Even mythology used giants because there’s something epic about facing an opponent that is bigger than anything natural. I’ve seen people try to steer away from these monsters because they aren’t scientifically sound. Yet, that’s part of what makes them frightening. You know they aren’t able to exist in reality, but here they are in this fantasy world. It makes them more mysterious and unnatural, so you can’t even be sure they can be killed the same way. This is probably just me though.
So, what do you think of giant monsters? Ever use them or do you avoid them?