The 7 Types of Plots: Overcoming the Monster

My roommate and I spent a good chunk of Sunday evening watching Avatar on FX since neither of us had seen it, and it was apparently a huge deal when I was out of the country for eleven months. As we were watching, I said to her, “This is kind of like Pocahontas meets Fern Gully, but with sex.” She agreed, which got me thinking about the fact that a lot of our literature, television, and film is similar.

Christopher Booker had the same idea in 2004, and wrote The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Write Stories, which argues that all stories told in any medium can be categorized into one of seven archetypes. Today, we’re covering the first plot: Overcoming the Monster.

Overcoming the Monster

Photo by Kevin Dooley

Overcoming the Monster is an underdog story where the hero sets out to destroy an evil of some kind. Generally, this evil is something larger or greater than the protagonist, and will take great courage and strength to defeat (the story would be over rather quickly otherwise).

There are five stages in an Overcoming the Monster plot.

1. Anticipation Stage and Call

The reader learns about the monster from afar, including its powers and reign of terror over the nearby community, and the hero accepts the call to defeat the monster.

2. Dream Stage

The hero prepares to fight the monster while it is still a comfortable distance away, although the distance between the two is decreasing. In film, a training montage usually fits in right about here.

3. Frustration Stage

It’s here! The monster! And it’s even worse than we thought! The monster’s power is revealed in all its terrible glory, and it looks like our hero is in way over his or her head.

4. Nightmare Stage

Cue the epic battle music, because it is ON. And it’s not going well for our hero, who is being absolutely pummeled by the monster. But wait! Just as all hope is lost, the major chords start peeking through on the background score, because the tide of battle is about to turn.

5. The Thrilling Escape from Death, and Death of the Monster.

Monster is defeated, hero emerges victorious, and the grateful people present him/her with treasure, a kingdom or something to rule over, and/or the local village hottie who is the hero’s perfect other half.

This plot type is ancient, with Gilgamesh and the story of David and Goliath following this structure, although it still is common in contemporary films and literature, like Terminator, most of the Redwall series, and the Star Wars films.

Keep in mind that these plot types are not bad. Storytelling in one form or another has been around for thousands of years, so you’re bound to reuse a few plot points, and there are still opportunities to play with the identity of the monster. Instead of a physical monster, it could be an abstraction, like fear, or a mundane monster, like finals week at a university. There’s still room for creativity.

PRACTICE

Write a scene from one of the five stages of an Overcoming the Monster story. It doesn’t have to detail all five stages; just pick one for this exercise. Once your fifteen minutes are up, post your practice in the comments, and leave notes for others who are taking the plunge. Happy writing!

(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase from them, you do a little to help support this community. Thanks!)

About Liz Bureman

Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.

  • plumjoppa

    They said it was suicide to even attempt, but there the two of them stood at the top of the hill, looking down the field full of blueberries.

    Little Eddie scratched an old mosquito bite, and started shrieking when a scab came off and blood trickled down his ankle. Billy clapped a hand over his little brother’s mouth.

    “Do you want to get us killed? Knock it off!”

    Little Eddie bit his lip and wiped the blood on the bottom of his t-shirt.

    “Shhhh! Hear that?”

    Billy shrank down below the tips of golden rod, and crouched over Little Eddie. Little Eddie’s head cracked into his knee.

    “Owww! What was that for?” Eddie yelled.

    The sound of pebbles spitting out from tires, and hitting metal came closer. Then it stopped. They heard a truck door creak open and slam shut. Little Eddie’s face was purple from his brother squeezing his mouth shut, and his eyes were wide and watery.

    Boots shuffled on the gravel roadside. A metallic click, and then there was silence
    that lasted long enough for Little Eddie to wet himself.

    Another metallic click, and the boots shuffled back to the car, stepped in and sped away in a dusty spray.

    “Aww Jeaz, Eddie!”

    Billy rolled his eyes, and started down the road toward home, with Little Eddie walking bow legged behind him.

    “Let’s try again tomorrow. He can’t guard his fields every day!”

    • Like it. I can see Eddie scratching his bug-bite.

      • plumjoppa

        Thanks!

    • Bookmark

      Loved the terror and determination shown in your story. Well done.

    • Jay Warner

      love the attention to detail and the fear of the unknown.

    • catmorrell

      there is nothing sweeter than stolen fruit. You know a story is good when you can’t wait to hit the “more” button. I was holding my breath. Still wondering if the danger is perceived or real.

  • It was a mountain. He looked up, a feat in itself, and beheld the impossible. His arms and legs ached. His chest was raw, he just knew it. The struggle couldn’t go on forever, he must give in…

    No! He would overcome. He lifted his head once more and grunted a charge. “Ahhh!” The cry echoed and he was uncertain once more. His eyes widened and his head became suddenly heavy.

    He would rest. Just for a moment. Yes, his eyes slowly closed, a little rest. The climb could wait.

    “Oh, honey, are you stuck?” The sweet voice of provision. His eyes were wide once more as his mother picked him up and carried him up the stairs.

    • plumjoppa

      I was so picturing an avid mountain climber until the last line! Nicely done.

      • C. Ellis

        me too

    • GuesD

      I like it when at the end of reading something a warm full toothed smile spreads on my face!! :)))

    • Bookmark

      Nicely written and a surprise at the end.

    • love this story – had me fooled and then remembering how many times I helped my babies learn to climb so long ago – thx for the memory.

  • GuesD

    Greed punched him on the face.

    Jim grunted and fell back. With fury burning his insides, Jim launched himself off the ground and tried to tackle Greed, but his opponent proved to be much tougher than he’d assumed. Greed, taking advantage of a momentary lack of focus on Jim’s part, lifted him off the ground and threw him into the air. He landed, on the ground about 50 meters away, on his head. Miraculously unhurt, he got up, his nostrils flaring and his anger at its peak.

    “I’m going to kill you, you bastard!” Jim shouted and charged, sprinting with all his might towards Greed.

    “You can’t even touch me, you puny human!” Greed smirked.

    “AHHHHHH!!!” shouted Jim (as a war-cry) as he neared Greed.

    Greed readied himself. His knees bent. His red skin glowing. His cold black eyes steely with the resolve to claim Jim’s soul.

    Greed never saw what happened next.

    Jim jumped high into the air and landed on Greed’s back within a split second. He swiftly brought his right elbow crashing onto Greed’s skull, killing him instantly with the strength of his blow.

    Jim smiled and opened his eyes.
    “I’m sorry, Mr. Bennett. Nothing will stop me from testifying against your murderous son. Not even your ill-gotten wealth.”

    • plumjoppa

      I like how you give form to this wrestle with the conscience.

      • GuesD

        thanks !!

    • C. Ellis

      I like how has the symbolic battle between him and Greed, and I liked how it ended with real life. It shows not just a battle, but how it relates to his life.

      • GuesD

        :))

  • Bookmark

    There is a monster in the cellar. Yes, a cellar not a basement. The door to that dark, dingy, dangerous place is on the first floor of the tenement and it should be closed. If it is open, run for your life.

    The oil tank is in the cellar. The only way to get fuel for the stove is to go there with cans, fill them up and take them to the third floor. They live in a northern climate, no central heat so the trip to get oil is a necessity. Also in the cellar are cubicles used for storage by the tenants. Mother is terrified of this place that harbors a monster and has cautioned her children to use extreme caution while there. The two older sisters have the responsibility to fill the cans and to keep the stove full.

    With cans in hand, they start the dreaded trip to get oil. At the door, they hesitate and almost turn back. There is a string for the bulb to light the stairs. They look at one another and gather the courage to descend into the cave and light the stairway. They proceed in silence because they don’t want to wake him. They turn on the few lights along the way, wondering if they aren’t better off in the dark.

    Why is the storage tank all the way at the end of this cellar? Why do they have to pass those cubicles, one of which harbors a hideous, vengeful, protective creature? They breathe a sigh of relief when they get to the tank. The cans fill ever so slowly as they feel so exposed and vulnerable to a fate worse than death.

    After what seems like a lifetime, the cans are full and heavy. Now, again, they have to try to not wake the sleeping demon that is lurking in that horrible place. They get to the stairs but don’t yet feel safe because they are still in the danger zone. Finally, they reach the top of the stairs, they close the door and smile at one another for having escaped harm from the creature once more.

    The creature never died but he was denied access to them the day that their grandmother had a pumping system installed which automatically brought up oil as needed. Grandmother, the monster tamer, the hero for the two sisters.

    • reminds me of the furnace in my last home that my sons called “the monster” It was original to the century old house – first coal, converted to oil, converted to gas…they wouldNOT go down the cellar alone…

      • Bookmark

        Margaret, those dark, dank places are really scary.

    • plumjoppa

      This reminds me of a creature in a Twilight Zone episode, except he hid under the bed. That one detail, that he’s small enough to fit into a cubicle; somehow makes him more scarey. Nicely done!

      • Bookmark

        Thanks plumjoppa.

  • Bryan said my fear was ridiculous. Especially since I lived in the city. “You
    have a phobia and it’s all in your head – time to get over it!” Of course I
    lived in the city. There were no woods or swamps in the city. But a phobia? I
    tried to explain to Bryan I had a legitimate fear and good reason for it. But he wouldn’t listen. Even when I told him what happened. About how my feet felt nailed to the dock that awful day and how my voice abandoned me when all I wanted to do was scream “get out of the lake, get out of the lake” to warn her. To warn my two year old sister. And when I told him how my eyes worked fine so all I could do was watch as the black slithering thing inched close and closer and how I kept watching as it took a chunk out of her tender shoulder right on the spot where she had a blister from too much sun the day before. But I couldn’t bear to tell him about her voice and how it abandoned her too even though her mouth flew wide open from the pain of that bite. I never told anyone that…
    All Bryan said was “ that was thirty years ago – get over it!” When he threatened to break up with me if I didn’t see a psychologist, I agreed to go. He even made the appointment for me. The doctor listened with his eyes closed and his head tilted to one side while I explained that my fear wasn’t such a big deal because I lived in the city. I told him the only time it impacts me is when I catch a glimpse of a picture in the newspaper where some freak loses his pet python in his apartment that shows up in a poor old lady’s toilet and how I scream my head off, throw the paper sky high and am rattled for hours. I told him that it bothered Bryan more than me and that maybe Bryan should be here instead….

    • plumjoppa

      The detail, about biting her where she already had a blister, made her seem more vulnerable.

    • catmorrell

      She has two monsters to overcome. Glad she recognized the second. Very well done.

  • Megan Rose Tennenbaum

    We stand in a semi-straight line, waiting. Waiting for the man who, from the moment that he walks through the gate bearing the words “Arbeit Macht Frei”, will hold our lives in his hands.

    Sweat beads on my face and on my neck and rolls down until the fabric, stiff from sweat, absorbs it. On my left Chavilah, a girl from some some village in France, shivers despite the heat. She hugs the black and white striped dress to her emaciated frame and tries to remain upright. I quickly grab her hand and give it a reassuring squeeze, though I know that she will not be with us much longer. Soon the fever will take her, and if not, the stacks will.

    In the distance we can hear the thundering of a train. The silence that has held us these past five hours breaks as we all begin whispering in anticipation. Suddenly we hear the deafening boom as one of the guards fires his gun and I watch, horrified, as Chavilah falls to the ground, a gaping wound in her chest. Once again we all fall silent.

    Staring mournfully at the ground we wait, dejectedly and without hope, for the arrival of the new Commandant. He comes with an air of grandeur.

    Standing at six feet, he is breathtakingly handsome and unbelievably muscular. His golden blonde hair is slicked back and his sparkling blue eyes look kindly upon us. “My name is Commandant Johannes. Follow my rules and you will live. Break even the smallest one, and you will no longer be with us.”

    • Jay Warner

      definitely fighting the monster.

    • plumjoppa

      This is chilling. You bring us right into the horror.

  • Marty Gavin

    Yikes, that’s a scary monster you got pictured there! 🙂

  • I remember the first time the henchmen tried to cut off my grandson’s head. They took us by surprise. They came at night of course. But that wasn’t it. We’d always known that they would come for him. It was the years of peace that had lulled us into a false sense of security. Peace takes the edge of even the sharpest warrior…I know it did
    me…. How were we to know then that it was just the beginning?

    Those quiet years that had disappeared into raising our grandson, another thing had happened. My darling, and I, had gotten older. Old age, pah, don’t get me started, it
    creeps up on you like a robber in the night, slowly stealing things away from you while you’re sleeping. And then one day you wake up, and it’s all gone and there’s not a flaming thing you can do about it. But I digress….

  • Karoline Kingley

    This plot description fits my book exactly! But I guess that’s not a bad thing; many of our favorite books and films model this story sequence.

  • I came to in a small dimly lit cell. I sat up, clutching my skull because about a
    hundred little men with sledgehammers were trying to break out. Soon, I pushed
    the pain away and looked around the place. The light was early morning sunlight
    reflecting from the walls. The entire place, with the exception of the bars at
    the front, was carved from solid granite. I stood up from the ground and walked
    over to the bars. It took precisely four steps. I gripped the bars and looked
    out. A narrow corridor was bored out of the same granite as my cell. About fifteen
    point twenty-four meters from my cell, to the left, was a lot more sunlight. I
    could barely make out a sand field and what appeared to be stands rising up
    above it. To the right were more cells heading back along the hallway.

    Based on the position of the sun, I put it at approximately mid-morning and it was already about 26.66 degrees centigrade. Keep in mind, this temperature was in the shade; I had a feeling it would be hellish out on the sand. I caught sight of sinuous movement approaching my cell. Soon, the light revealed what had come for me.

    It looked like a stunningly beautiful, statuesque and nude woman with flawless
    milky skin and raven hair. Her tempting form had an otherworldly side to it.
    Large bat wings unfurled from her shoulders as she walked and a slender black
    tail curled and uncurled around her legs as she moved. Her red eyes glowed with
    some sinister desire. She wielded a gleaming, acid green longsword and had a
    red longbow strapped across her back. Before she even spoke, I knew this was a
    L’Arc demon, one of Lucien’s tempter spawn.

    “Greetings, Carter Blake,” it purred. “Are you ready to be a gladiator?”

    I merely looked at the demon, choosing to remain silent. After a few seconds, it
    shrugged its shoulders. It unlocked the door to my cell and gestured for me to
    exit. I paused, debating whether to make a grab for her weapon, or just go with
    the flow. It watched with a growing, evil smile. The demon shook her head and
    reached a long, slender finger out and tapped something around my neck with an
    ebony claw. I reached up and touched a metal collar around my neck. My eyes
    must have widened in surprise because the demon gave a harsh cawing laugh.

    “It’s a shock collar,” it grinned. “Displease Master Belial, or try to escape, and
    you get a shock. Of course, any of the Master’s officers can give you a shock
    at will. Like this.”

    A lightning bolt raced around my neck and down my body. Muscles felt like they
    were being shredded. Nerves jumped and jangled as my body spasmed in agony. I
    wasn’t even aware I had dropped to the ground until I opened my eyes after the
    shocks had vanished and saw I was looking at the ceiling. I vowed to do as commanded until I could figure out a way to escape. I already knew I didn’t
    want a repeat performance of the shock collar.

    “Get up, worm,” the L’Arc ordered.

    I got to my feet as swiftly as I could; my trembling muscles didn’t want to cooperate, but I forced them to obey me. I stood there for a second with my head hanging, and then lifted it. A sudden caw of laughter caused me to flinch. I hated both of us for that: myself for flinching, and the demon for putting the fear of that shock collar in me.

    “Aww,” it said in mock sympathy, “Look, the little worm wet itself.”

    It then burst out with another round of mocking laughter. Rage and humiliation
    welled up within me. The raw emotions made me forget my few seconds old vow.
    Forcing as much malice and ice into my voice as I could, I spoke. “I will take your
    head for that.”

    “Ooh, scary,” the L’Arc mocked.

    I found myself on the ground once more, a burning ring around my neck. It took
    longer this time before my muscles stopped twitching and jumping. I was finally
    able to rise once more. This time, I didn’t even look at the L’Arc.

    I was guided down the short corridor and pushed out into the sandy field. The
    glare of the hot sun briefly blinded me. As I had expected, it was even hotter out here than back in my cell. I estimated the heat to be nearly thirty-seven point seventy-seven degrees centigrade. There was a roar as I had stumbled out.
    About ten minutes later, my eyes adjusted to the brightness. I looked around
    and saw I was on the floor of a huge coliseum. Directly across from where I
    stood was a very large wooden fence. Something on the other side was pushing
    hard against it, making it flex rhythmically. Moments later, a familiar, and
    growing to be hated, voice boomed out.

    “Welcome, all!” Belial thundered; his new bullfrog-with-laryngitis voice amplified
    somehow. “We have before us a special treat! A human from another world has
    joined us in the arena! Watch as he wins your adulation and brings glory to my
    house, or dies to the sounds of your jeering voices! Either way, Carter Blake,
    you will entertain us!”

    The crowd roared its approval. I decided to piss the half-demon off. Opening and closing my right hand rapidly, in the old mime for someone talking too much, I
    hollered back to him. “HEY BELIAL! THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING!” I then stopped flapping my hand. “THIS IS WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO!!”

    It was a small and petty thing to do, I know, but I really wanted to nettle him. It worked.

    “KILL HIM!!” he screamed.

    I cackled like a mad man, and then abruptly stopped when I saw the wooden gate sinking into the ground. First, I saw four very large, very sharp looking horns. Next, I saw an iridescent jade green exoskeleton. After that, I saw the creature’s eight scarlet eyes and slavering jaws that opened and closed vertically. The gate finished sinking into the ground and the monster stalked out. It moved as sinuously as a tiger, had six legs like a beetle and was as big as a rhino. ‘Holy crap,’ I
    thought. ‘I’m gonna die. Uh-huh.’ It abruptly launched into a run, right at me. I screamed and barely leaped out of the way of its massive claws.

    I franticly looked around for something to use as a weapon, unconsciously using
    the roars of the crowd to keep tabs on the monster. Every time it charged at me, they cheered wildly. Every time I dodged it, they groaned in disappointment. I turned to see what it was doing as the crowd had gotten very quiet. To my great surprise, the flipping thing was stalking me on the wall! When it saw that I had spotted it, it pounced. I started to whirl and run, which would have ended in my death, but my foot slid on the sand and I fell on my side. The monster, having figured I would run away again, had leaped so that it would intercept me. Instead, because of my slipping, it went right over me. Imagine my surprise when I heard some of the crowd cheering because it had missed me!

    At last, I saw what I was looking for: the arena floor was surrounded by demons
    with wicked looking halberds. I began yelling and taunting the monster. As I
    hoped, it yelled in rage and charged me once more. I turned, feet firmly planted this time, and bolted. I ran full out directly at one of the halberd wielding demons. As I had hoped, it lowered its weapon and stepped away from the wall, trying to get me to impale myself on it. I waited until nearly the last second, feeling the monster’s hot breath on my neck as I ran. I dropped to my side as I had seen baseball players do when they were sliding into base. I went under the outstretched halberd and between the demon’s legs.

    It watched me slide, completely forgetting the charging monster. I rolled rapidly to my left as multiple tonnes of monster slammed into the point of the demon wielded halberd. The mass and momentum of the monster caused it to slam
    right through the demon, bearing it under itself and crashing into the wall. The butt of the spear hit the wall first, causing the monster to skewer itself like a bug. I yelled, throwing my arms up in triumph. It never occurred to me not to.

    The crowd roared its approval and I basked in its adulation with the hot sun
    beating down on me. Belial’s screaming voice soon made itself heard over the
    tumult of the crowd.

    “-out here now!” he was yelling.

    The huge wooden gate, which I hadn’t seen rise again, sank into the ground once more. A pair of L’Arcs charged out wielding longswords. I waited for them, knowing somehow what they would do. One was going to try to stab my chest while the other was going to try to split me in half by sliding between my legs and slidinging vertically. Sure enough, one raced ahead of the other and dove towards the ground in an eerily similar way to what I had done to the demon with the halberd. I simply cartwheeled to my right, something I had never been able to
    do before. When I was upright once more, I stuck my thumbs in my ears, wiggled
    my fingers and gave the L’Arcs a Bronx cheer. That did it! The demons came at
    me straight on, all sense of theatrics gone. I grinned giddily and tried to figure out what to do next.

    Abruptly the world slowed. I saw the two demons fan out to flank me. Both thrust their blades at me simultaneously. I saw myself twist to my left as I ducked. The one that had been behind me drove its blade into the other one and I picked up the
    fallen blade. The world suddenly reverted to its normal pace. The demons fanned out as I had foreseen and thrust their blades at me, also as I had foreseen. I ducked and twisted my body to my left so that I spun away from the L’Arcs. The remaining demon bent and picked up its dead partner’s sword. ‘Hey!’ I thought, ‘That wasn’t supposed to happen!’ The remaining L’Arc demon began to stalk me as I backed rapidly to the wall behind me.

    “Is there something wrong, Carter Blake?” Belial called.

    “Everything’s just ducky!” I shouted back without taking my eyes from my opponent.

    • Booikmark

      When I read “A narrow corridor”, I thought about the word of the week: vomitorum. Substitute that for corridor and you will have satisfied the challenges of several days.

      • A good idea, but I wonder if my MC would know that word…

  • Patrick Marchand

    Wayne could see the whole state in that panel, like the big fissure in the middle that made it hang on one side like the broken wing of the small bird that laid next to it, screeching feebly as it tried to move its broken body away from the mound of ants that was slowly approaching it, or the choking vines, creeping up the rusted metal.

    Wayne watched the slow, but steady, progression of the ants toward the helpless bird and thought about saving it, but that would mean stopping the motor on his hoverbike and he was already spending enough on energy cells as it was. He could not make much profit out of this god forsaken wasteland if he stopped to help every being in need now would he?

    So he wiped the dust from his sweaty forehead, readjusted his hat, cranked up the power levels and rode into the distance as the sun shone on the merciless column of ants, their soon to be meal and the dirty lettering that traversed the panel, saying:
    « Welcome to California, the earthquake state. »

  • George McNeese

    The skies turned black. Thunder rumbled. Malistone, clad in black armor, smiled at his handiwork, as Stormer looked down at his fallen brother.
    “A shame about your brother,” Malistone said. “He was foolish to betray me.”
    Stormer shed a tear that fell onto the face.
    “No need to cry. You will soon join him.”
    Malistone laughed. He raised his blood-stained axe. Stormer lifted his head, gazing at his new foe.
    “This ends now,” Stormer screamed. He grasped his sword and rushed toward Malistone, standing ready for him. Stormer swiped at him, but Malistone blocked the attack. The two warriors exchanged blows and blocks. Malistone raised his axe and knocked Stormer off balance. He kicked Stormer down, then gave a smirk.
    “How pathetic. I expected more of a fight from the one who defeated my warriors.”
    Malistone lifted his axe and swung down. Stormer blocked the attack and pushed him back.

    • James Hall

      I love fantasy, but battle scenes can be tricky. I believe the thoughts and characters, though, should take precedence over battle actions. Cliches are easily grabbed when creating fantasies because they are something substantial to grab onto. Unfortunately, they are like a live wire, and, they hurt and are hard to let go of.

      An obscene darkness covered sky and ground, everything, except the fading light of Stormer’s lantern. He could scream out his brother’s name, but something eerie about the darkness stole his voice. Why had his brother left out into a night such as this, with a storm fast approaching? He knew something about the deaths and the creatures that had attacked his village.

      “Cloud,” his voice came out in a breaking whisper. He continue to stumble about what seemed to be an infinite plane of darkness. His lantern flickered; as it did, he noticed another light up ahead, low, as if it were on the ground.

      He ran towards it, but only horror awaited him when he reached the light. His brother’s mutilated body before him, Stormer fell to his knees.

      “No! Cloud!” Stormer’s trembling hand floated above and followed the gaping would starting at the neck, trailing into his chest. He ran his bloodied hands through his brother’s hair. “How…” he choked. Images flooded his mind.

      “Do you remember when it was just us boys and father in that run-down shack of a home? Living wasn’t great, but we got along. I didn’t think I would when father passed away.” Tears streamed down Stormer’s face, “not until you had heard and came for me. My fears, my pain, relieved in your embrace.” He could almost feel that embrace, and he could feel his brother’s love. “How do I go on without you, Cloud? How do I go on alone?”

      A flash of lightning reflected in his eyes, his sorrow transformed. “Malistone.”

      “Yes,” came a hollow voice from his right. A white face with a gray scar split across from his eye brow to his cheekbone emerged from the darkness. The hood of his black cape was turned up, and his body armored in the blanket of darkness.

      “If only he would have kept quiet. A shame,” the cold voice said, “he died too soon. I was just beginning to have fun.”

      • George McNeese

        Thank you for the commentary and your submission. This was my first attempt at writing a fantasy scene, let alone a battle scene. It’s interesting how you visualize the scene, then try to type it out. I think you did a better job than I did.

        • James Hall

          I’ve heard characters are the most important story element. The plot is connected to the characters. The setting is connected to the plot.

          I’m trying my best to reflect that. Not sure how well I’m doing yet.

          Thanks for the comment and thank for the idea! I don’t see how mine can truly be better, when yours motivated me to do it. There is magic, even in oversimplicity.

  • Dave Peters

    Vitamin C

    She says all it takes is a bit of love. Like a tankful of love? No, she says, like a basketful. So much love, I figure, might sink a boat. But she says nope, love floats. And that’s the way it is, I guess, on this roasting July day at our apartment on Parker and Fifth.

    When the evening comes, I look through the window, see the harbor and the glistening on the water makes me think I was a child again or something. Someone immortal: Tony the Tiger. The tangerine waves on the water like steely notches of a Belgian serrated knife. The sun is a bronze citrus so ripe and tender it dribbles from my lip. I just about lost myself in my eyes as they absorb Baltimore to my mind, I lean back to the wall just straight sailing. But, shhh, now, babe, it’s coming. Here it comes. Here it comes.

    Darkness never floats on the water, never enters with a splash, like a cannonball, but it just pierces straight on through—dives like a needle. Something so distant you can’t remember a time it was talking directly to you, can’t remember it’s name or telephone number, what it looks like, sounds like. But you can smell it. It’s damp carpet for me. There’s a hatchway and stairs. At the bottom there’s about an inch of water and a flashlight set up on a small TV tray table.

    Where I am now you be sure my mother’s never been. But she’s there anyway, in her picture. A young woman smiling wearing a white hospital gown. She’s sweating holding a lil’ tot close like he’s groceries or something. What’s you’re name, boy? I hold it up to my eye trying to recognize the face but it’s too damn dark. And all a sudden it’s on me like school on Monday morning. I’ve forgot how to breathe. The fruit bunches in my lungs ain’t ever gunna fill up again unless I can get a little more.

    Is she there now? Is she loving me still? Wake up, baby, wake up. You’re hair’s in your mouth. You’re a peach. Lean on back now. Just rest on down, down, down.

    Is this love baby? Is this your shoe?

  • randomyriad

    Outside the library’s serene dark wood, the wind moaned haunting
    echoes that filtered in as the heavy glass doors slowly parted and swung back.
    There was no escape without the wet slap of wind. Daniel knew this and cowered,
    returning his attention to the prints in the massive tome on surrealist
    painting. A gargantuan creature with one huge eye in the center of its face,
    forcing an arm into its dagger-toothed maw glared back at him. The room
    shuddered as the wind slammed the walls outside. In the dark of Daniel’s
    thoughts , things worse than this image stirred and writhed to life. Soon it
    would be time to leave the sanctuary of books and face the weather and worse
    what he would find when he reached home. It was a journey filled with uncertainty
    with a destination certain in its unpleasant possibilities, yet surprising in
    the variation. Visions of his father already drunk before dinner and his mother
    cowering in the kitchen or both of them in full blown rage throwing curses and
    hard objects at one another.

    No, I won’t go there anymore. I’ll find a dry place and
    curl up until morning.

    But he was hungry and feared the monstrous world more than
    the ongoing entrenched warfare of home. He sighed heavily as he reluctantly
    closed the monster in its paper tomb. The storm and fury awaited, and he must
    find a way through to food and the safety of his room.

  • darkocean

    I skipped straight to #3 and then twisted everything after that. Hea.