Building the Beast

Anne_Anderson05 - Beauty sat down to dinner with the Beast illustration PDArt - Wikimedia CommonsI have been suffering with a cold for the last week and so my writing output has dwindled to nearly nothing.  I have gotten some work done, but not the amount I had hoped for.

I worked on a scene requested by my editor, Irene Luvaul, for Huw the Bard, one to liven up a dull stretch just a bit.  I didn’t want to put Huw through the wringer again when he has already suffered so much, and he was so close to making his way to Billy’s Revenge, but she was right – a bit of tension would add to the interest.

So I alternately thought and slept on it for more than a week, trying to force my plague-ridden body peck out a few lines with merit to them.

I couldn’t think of anything.

But then a passing paragraph toward the end of Billy’s Revenge I – The Last Good Night (under revision again, cleaning up the manuscript, thank you Carlie Cullen for volunteering) gave me the idea for a strange creature with which I could freak out poor naive Huw. (Having the right editor in the first place solves SO many problems further down the road.)


But this meant – you guessed it – Building the Beast.  The only trouble was, I didn’t really know what one looked like – after all they were only mentioned in passing as being a nuisance.

Now, I only had three passing references in BR1 that talked about these creatures, but those few sentences told me quite a bit about them, actually.

So when I thought about it I realized I did have enough to build one. I just needed to assemble the parts.

1. They are either  elemental creatures, or poisonous creatures, one or the other. I say this because they are called ‘FIREsprites’. Yet, logic tells me they can’t be made of fire, or there would be no forest. Therefore, they must be poisonous, and the poison must be an acid that burns like fire.

2. They must be small. Otherwise King Henri’s horse would not have stepped into a nest of them and thrown his rider.

3.  Something about them makes people think of fire, and it must be something bad, because Lackland and the people of Waldeyn feel compelled to kill the entire nest when they find them, sort of like fire ants only bigger and badder.  But they must be something that one lone woman (Lady Mags) could deal with, with only the aid of an amulet.

I always think it’s better when the folks who actually have to deal with them tell me what they look like, so here is what Matt St. Couer told Huw and I about firesprites.

Matt said, “Now we need to herd them to the center of the nest and get them bunched up in as tight a group as we can.  Don’t touch them, whatever you do. The slime on their skin will burn you like the hottest fire, and there’s no stopping it from eating your flesh away. That’s why they’re called firesprites. The wounds keep putrefying, and amputation is the only remedy. Water helps but only if you get the water on the affected area right away, before the poison has done too much damage. I’m talking minutes here, and you have to really sluice the wounds to get the poison off. Sadly, they never seem to nest near water.”

Ulleen said, “They like to nest along roads because there’s not so much foliage and they get more sun there.  The sun heats their nests and hatches their eggs.”

“They don’t look much like a sprite, do they,” Huw said, thinking they were interesting but not really fairy-like.  “At least, not what I always thought a sprite should look like. They look more like naked chipmunks with hairless tails. But their skin is pretty, all shiny and coppery like that.”

“I think they were named that because when they’re looking for grubs and such all you see is a little flash of copper as they disappear into the brush,” Ulleen replied. “I’ve always wondered about that too.”

Now as far as actually building the beast goes,  I have quite a lot of dragon parts lying around my office, and I can assemble a dragon in no time at all. I will even stick wings on it, if you like your dragons airborne. But dragon parts are far too large for this project, so I’ll have to look elsewhere.

Somewhere in here I have a box with everything one might need to assemble a demon.

I think this is the box.


I’m partial to waterdemons. They’re quite fun to put into a fight-scene and some of their components will be perfect for the job. Clear, gelatinous skin is exactly what these little guys need, and I have a lot of it in this box. If I take some of that and turn it all coppery, it will actually be kind of pretty, in a hairless chipmunk sort of way. With the addition of a really strong acid to the gelatinous goo I think we’ll have a cute little firesprite!

I love arts and crafts time!


Filed under Adventure, Books, Dragons, Humor, knights, mythology, writing

4 responses to “Building the Beast

  1. Love this excerpt – great concept! You’re getting so GOOD at this, woman.


  2. Tim Walker

    Lovely bit of prose you shared here. I really enjoy how you described the process. It is fascinating to see how another creates their creatures.

    Also I agree about tension. The story arc concept has been a great tool for me to see the timing for increasing tension and building of suspense. Then there is the climax and cleaning up the mess of little details.

    Eventually you’ll beat that cold. Keep on writing.


  3. You ARE getting good at this. Love the sneak peak into the thought process behind weaving a new creature into your manuscript.