The Cave Monster Character

Here’s a fabulous photo of a natural cave formation that I found on a travel website. (Check it out on—they have great location pictures that will spark all kinds of setting ideas.)

This picture holds a goldmine of ideas for stories and characters. I couldn’t believe it was an actual rock formation when I first saw it. What came through clearly to me was a fantastic monster head on a narrow stalk of a neck, with fags glistening in the light and scowling brows that overshadow slanted beady eyes. Instantly my sci-fi genes started shrieking in my metaphorical ear, “Oh! Oh! Character! Story!”

Could you ever dream up a better monster on your own? The lines, folds and fringes of rock suggest not only a fiend ready to devour someone, but also a whole planet somewhere far off in another galaxy. Or perhaps deep beneath our own Earth.

Ask yourself: Is this monster truly made of rock, or is what we see hard, scaly skin dripping with fur and stiff bristly hair? Does this creature eat people, or merely kill them? Is it intelligent, or does it act on pure instinct? Perhaps it is guarding a sacred space, a buried treasure, the secret entry to another dimension or world, or merely protecting its own lair. Is it someone’s twisted pet? What does the rest of its body look like? How big is it?

What if this monster were human, a mutation of some kind? Or what if this were the alter-ego of someone who looks and acts normally most of the time? What would trigger the appearance of his monster side? How would someone who loved him react? How would he react while in his monster persona to someone his human incarnation loved?

As you can see, sometimes photos give you not a story idea, but a fascinating character whose story you can tell. Our world is filled with unbelievable wonders that photographers capture on film and that offer writers fodder for a multitude of characters, settings and stories. But we have to learn how to look.

I’ve got lots more… stay tuned.

Susan Tuttle

Comments? Your ideas from this picture…

Word of the Week: Apotheosis (N. Lat. apo, change + theos [god])

Definition: Elevation to divine status; the perfect example

Synonyms: Acme, epitome, exemplar, ideal, paragon, perfection, role model

Usage: According to author Jay Asher, The Monster At The End Of The Book is the apotheosis of an unforgettable three-dimensional suspense story.

About Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle is a professional freelance editor, writing instructor and multi-award winning author of 21 books—6 nonfiction on writing (Write It Right), 6 suspense novels and 7 collections of award-winning short stories. She also has stories in both volumes of "Deadlines", the new anthology from the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Tales from a Rocky Coast, and the SLO NightWriter anthology. Under the pen name Susan Grace O'Neill, she is the author of the Journey With Jesus series: Lord, Let Me Grow (Parables) vol. 1, and Lord, Let Me Walk (Lent). She is currently working on volume #2 of her Skylark P.I. series (a PI with paranormal abilities), as well as 2 YA fantasy series. And she teaches fiction writing in both the morning and afternoon every Wednesday. Email her if you're interested in joining her class. And follow her on Twitter and FaceBook.