If you haven’t read about the roots of anxiety, you may want to read the Hold On To Your Story: Writing Anxiety post first.
It is commonly thought that when ancient cartographers would get to the part of the map that had not been explored, and would write, “Here be Monsters.” Why? Because a monster is basically an unknown thing – a place or being that is submerged, hidden, partially visible, uncategorizable, or alien. Map and globe makers would draw creatures that live in the ocean with parts of animals they recognized- a sea cow etc. because humans use what we have had experience with to fill in the gaps in our knowledge.
Monsters are also what we call people we can not comprehend – such as Hitler, child molesters, cannibals – people who break the taboo against our core, shared humanity.
Another example is when we label a group of people who do antisocial things we use the dark characters of ancient lore. The negative and spiteful conversations people post online to hurt and demean others are called trolls and trolling. They are people who have taken on the shadow character of humanity – the dark side.
In short, monsters live in places we do not understand, do things we cannot comprehend or act in ways that are antithetical to our shared humanity. And they are monsters because they scare us – they kick up our natural anxiety towards the unknown.
The monsters that we click with (and in some cases click on!) are the ones that have claws that dig into our deepest fears. This writing prompt is based on how each one comes with its own set of anxieties.
Writing prompt: What scares you? Think of a story that scares you – a film you saw or a book you read. What is it about that specific kind of monster that sets you off? For instance, I have never been able to watch paranormal films. The idea that things could be normal one moment and then strange the next gets my imagination going in a bad way – that I can start to see that everything could always be about to tip into the paranormal. For me, I think my monster is a lack of control over my environment – that something (or someone?) could come in and take control makes me feel an instant chill.
Some ideas: Serial killers, bullies, witches, devils, Frankenstein, werewolves, ghosts, villains, the Boogeyman