Are you going to write Leviathan in YOUR book? Are you really? Are you sure you want to do it?
If the answer is yes, let’s cover the basics! Here we will summarize how you can go about it and what you need to know. You can also check out my YouTube video where I draw my Leviathan for Black Wings appearance.
References on Leviathan are commonly found in the Old Testament, but you can find juicy details from the Talmud. The Talmud contains historical compilations of scholars discussing the Torah. The shortest description based on how Leviathan was described is that he is a Sea Serpent/Dragon-like creature that lives…underwater.
Seeing he is a sea-serpent or water creature, we can automatically assume that the ocean is where he will gather his strength. This also makes it his advantage against those who are…land-dwellers that depend on ships. With stories like David and Goliath, Bilbo vs. Smaug (Not in combat, of course), we have to discuss his size.
Bigger isn’t always better, but if you look at how the food chain works in the ocean waters, you probably want to be massive and make sure you’re keeping predators at bay.
What we do know from scripture is that Leviathan is impenetrable. His body is covered in what the Old testament described “Shields of armor” that no “harpoon” can break. So while some creatures have speed, flight, or protective barriers, Leviathan doesn’t need any of these. He will charge at you because he’s confident that you cannot break his armor. Of course, this doesn’t mean that defense and size make him invincible, but you would want that if you were an underwater creature.
As far as abilities are concerned, there is not much talk on it. What we can guess is that Leviathan will probably have some kind of water element. Perhaps he can cause tsunamis, or summon the rain. But let’s be fair…that’s a little predictable, isn’t it? This is not because of the water element, but rather, what else can it do?
This is where we have to add weaknesses in the characters and creatures for your story. I have talked to writers and sometimes read too many characters (many protagonists) who are always the best at everything. This may be a personal “ugh” in my part, so perhaps I’m being biased, but this can happen in reverse. You also don’t want to make the antagonist or monster super overpowered without a cost. Everyone has to have some Achilles heel, even if nobody ever ends up discovering it. So if Leviathan can cause a tsunami, for example, how does he go about it? What does he need to do to make it happen? Why would he do it, and how could one stop it? If he can just I don’t know, flick his wrist (If he has one), and tsunami’s just appeared because you say so, you’re not exactly making him scary.
If your Leviathan is not a creature, but rather a name that was given to a person, a weapon, or magic attack, it’s easier to stretch what it can do. However, if you’re going to use it, give it a universal meaning that your readers will not have to go in circles to understand. Names that people commonly know give clear ideas or assumptions. So if you name something Leviathan, it’s best to offer it a trait that justifies it. Otherwise, you might as well call it…Bob.