I’m writing Epic Fantasy. It has mages, knights, dungeons, and — of course — monsters.
Monsters are metaphorical: bad people behave monstrously. This is often the root cause of some of the conflict in an SFF story.
Monsters are also literal: big, bad, things. We worry about monsters IRL: sharks, flesh-eating bacteria, wolves, etc. Many of us avoid these dangers by living in settled areas. Others of us live on a boat, and the monsters are right there on the other side of the hull.
While monsters are a fun narrative device, there’s a limit. The outline started with six monsters. But as the story unfolded into its details, a logistical problem appeared: where was the necromancer keeping them? It became implausible to have such a huge collection of ravenous beasts without a huge supply of ready food.
Maybe the monsters had been ravaging the country-side. But this would have required a different kind of antagonist, and all kinds of other changes. The necromancer isn’t an “organizer" and can’t be herding monsters.
More important than implausibility was the repetition factor. Music works well when things are repeated twice to establish a pattern. After that the repetition has to break the previously established pattern.
The first two monsters establishes a pattern. The third must break the pattern, and act as a reveal for something else. The fourth has to be a whole other reveal. Beyond that, either they cease to become monstrous, or the readers hate the characters for struggling — yet again — with the same kind of monster.
Dropping the monsters leaves me without a cheap-and-easy conflict. Now I have to revisit the characters to see what’s evolving among them. I have to do more thinking and imagining. That means rewriting some previous monster encounters to set up the more interesting inter-personal issues.
Each book has three 40,000-50,000 word acts. I’m about 2,400 words from the end of act II. And. I’m rewriting this last chapter again. And rethinking portions of Act III