Today I would like to return to one of my favourite topics, Cliches!
As we’ve discussed before cliches can range from phrases to characters, to scenes, and beyond. They are an overused trope and often portray a lack of original thought.
Despite that clearly negative definition, there is a time and place for cliches, particularly around certain characters, as they allow an audience to gain an understanding and expectation very quickly. So, on occasion, a cliché can be a useful tool to impart information quickly. Though it is best used sparingly and if used in relation to characters it should only be applied to very small, very side characters.
With that out of the way, today I want to talk to you about monster cliches!
With monsters being a highlight of the horror genre, certain kinds of monsters have a lot of tropes attached to them. I have already done a few letters on specific monsters, vampires, werewolves, ghosts etc. today I want to talk about a wider range of overused monsters and the even more overused tropes that come with them.
Do you ever have a moment when you really want to watch a film, but you just have so many you can’t choose?
I do this all the time, I do it with clothes, books and music.
The other day I was trying to pick out a super spooky film for an evening, and for the life of me I couldn’t think of one. This got me thinking, I tried Google and then I wandered onto YouTube and I found the below lists which were a great inspiration.
I rarely post blogs about ‘current’ issues, I’m usually pretty late to most parties.
But recently I have been hearing a lot about AI. It’s pretty much everywhere. It’s popping up on podcasts I listen to, YouTube channels I follow are talking about it and I’ve seen a lot of artists very concerned about it.
I wasn’t overly concerned until a YouTuber pointed out that this is the worst AI will ever be. It’s only going to get better from here on out, it will become more and more indistinguishable from people.
What does that mean for writers?
A recent article in the Guardian talks about Clarksworld and they say ‘We don’t know’ far more eloquently than I
I’m so thrilled with the feedback I’ve received for A Man in Winter and I want to thank you all.
Every now and then, when I need cheering up or reminding that imposter Syndrome is a total %^&*! I pop back on Amazon and give the reviews a read.
A smooth flowing structured story told from the rarest of characters-the elderly.
A Man in Winter made my heart weep for Arthur.
Katie Marie blends the line between reality and the supernatural.
I think I read this in two sittings and the ending is really explosive!
I loved the way the author takes us deeper and deeper into Arthur’s world. She skillfully weaves an elaborate web of threads, intertwining one with the other until the reader is as unsure as Arthur as to what is real and what is not.
A Man In Winter is also told with real heart.
So, yeah, I really want everyone to know just how much I really appreciate you taking the time to give me such lovely feedback. It really makes my days brighter.
As I may have already said in my letters, I’m on a crusade to cut down the amount of time I spend in front of computer/laptop/phone screens working. This has had a lovely side effect of pushing me back towards some of my older hobbies, drawing/painting, photography and reading.
I’ve been re-reading some old favourites and today I want to share with you my top five horror stories. Some spoilers are below so make sure you are careful if you don’t want certain stories spoiled for you. I have done my very best to keep spoilers to a minimum though and have put warnings throughout.
So without further delay and in no particular order…
You may recall in my last letter I told you the good news. That after months of hard work, I have been accepted onto a course to read for my PhD.
I’m super excited about this.
It’s been a tricky process, however, particularly because I struggled to find much information about what the entire process was about. I wanted to understand what I was getting myself into before I went anywhere near talking to a potential supervisor.
There was a slew of ‘this is what a PhD is…’ type information, but all of them focused on non-creative PhD’s which are pretty different to a creative one. The closest and one of the most useful books I found that was about the creative PhD was about a drama/live performance PhD.
So, with that in mind, I thought I’d start a little blog series about my journey over the coming six years.
I’ll be talking about processes, sharing useful information I’ve found, and signposting to other useful resources. I will also be talking at times about my subject matter.
A PhD or Doctorate of Philosophy is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase ‘philosophiae doctor’ and is a long period of independent research/study in a specific field or subject, resulting in the production of a publication-worthy thesis.
So, in a nutshell, It’s a big research project with a rather long written piece at the end.
Creative Writing PhD
My PhD will be a Creative Writing PhD, which makes it a little different from a non-creative PhD.
The PhD in Creative Writing (also known as the critical-creative/practice-based PhD) combines a proposed creative piece, such as a novel, short story collection, poetry collection or playscript etc with a piece of supporting or contextualising research.
In a nutshell, that means I have to write a creative piece and produce an academic ‘essay’ though calling it an essay feels small for what it is, it’s effectively going to be of a similar length to my Masters’s Degree Thesis.
What’s the Subject matter aka topic of study
The focus of my PhD will be Mental Health and Disability in the Horror Genre.
I will be reviewing how those with mental health issues and disabilities have been portrayed in the horror genre, particularly in novels and short stories. How that portrayal has been influenced by culture/society and how society/culture has been affected by these portrayals.
I’ll be looking at what constitutes a ‘good’ or plausible portrayal and what constitutes a bad portrayal.
My creative piece will either be a novel or a short story collection, which explores plausible portrayals. Aka I’m going to see if I can still write ‘good’ horror fiction with good representation.
Why the hell are you writing about that?
Because this combines a cause and a topic that is close to me.
You already know how much I love the horror genre. It’s been something important to me since I was single-digit years old.
I’m also a big nerd who studies for fun. I have some esoteric qualifications, acquired just because the topic was interesting and I had the cash to do it. Some people save up to buy cars, designer gear etc. (and that’s awesome, no shame here my dudes) I save up to study stuff in a structured environment.
But why disability and mental health?
I’m neurodiverse myself, have family and friends on the spectrum and have family and friends who suffer from long-term illness and disability. I’ve lost both family and friends to mental health issues and I’ve seen all of us be treated as lesser at some point or another and I don’t like it (hot take right).
In the world outside of this website, I’m an advocate for disability rights, I’m a chair of my staff network for those with diverse abilities, I’m in the process of becoming a trustee of a local disability charity and I’m a mental health first aider.
So, this is a way to combine three things I love with all my big nerd heart. Disability equity, writing (particularly within the horror genre) and a big education project.
Plus, once it’s all done (and providing it goes well) I’ll be able to order food in a restaurant and when it arrives I can say “Just what the Dr ordered.”
Plus, plus, I’m English and a big nerd, so being able to call myself The Doctor tickles me somewhat. If I manage this, someone needs to get me a sonic screwdriver.