cliches, Horror Writing

Clichés: Vampires

It’s that time again when I talk at length about clichés that drive me nuts.

Today I want to look at a horror creature that has been done again and again and again, to the point where if I tried to list all the clichés I would write a book. I am of course talking about the vampire. What with it being Halloween and all.

Like with all the previous clichés that I’ve spoken about, these are caused by writer/creator laziness. Instead of trying to put a unique spin on a character the writer/creator will have a standard vampire acting in the standard vampire way. While this might be alright for a side character, as a quick and easy way to establish them without having to spend ages dwelling on a non-critical character but still giving your readers/audience a good idea of what to expect from this character, it won’t work for the main character.

The way to make your vampire character stand out is to make them different than the norm.

Take the Twilight, for example, I am well aware of the hate this series gets but when you look at the figures you’ll see that it worked very well despite the stigma. This book series sold millions of copies, got made into a series of films and made the author an absolute ton of money. All because she took vampires and put her spin on them, and while many didn’t like the new spin many did, in particular, Meyer’s target audience did.

Anyway, I feel that I’ve rambled long enough, so without further ado, let’s jump into my top three hated vampire clichés.

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cliches, Horror Writing

Clichés: Ghosts

It should go without saying really that ghosts pop up a lot in horror stories. Traditionally when a lot of people think horror they will think of ghosts and ghost stories.

This isn’t a bad thing, as ghosts can work amazingly in stories when they are done well.

A good example of ghosts being done well is the Haunting of Hill House television series that came out recently. The ghosts here were very well crafted and it was clear from the first episode that a lot of thought had gone into their conception and creation.

However, despite ghosts being excellent narrative tools they can, and often are, the victims of excessive clichés. All of which, I believe, stems from the same issue, a simple lack of thought.

A recent example of this being when I went to see a play that I will not name here (it wasn’t the woman in black, I feel the need to point that out). The story clearly established the ghost character, her motivations were crystal clear and her abilities firmly shown early on. It was pretty good if a little overdone. But right at the end everything about the ghost changed, her motivations changed completely, it went from “find me” to “join me forever” and her abilities went from “dick around with small technology within the house” to “being able to cause traffic accidents miles away”.

I remember sitting in the theatre and thinking to myself “Well, the writer clearly wanted a twist ending and just couldn’t come up with one.” I was disappointed and frustrated, to say the least. But this leads nicely into the main cliché that ghost characters suffer from.

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cliches, Horror Writing

Clichés: Villians

Today I want to talk about a topic that I considered doing an entire series for, to be honest, I’m still considering it. Maybe next year? Consider this a teaser for a potential series and let me know what you think if you’d be interested in having a more ‘deep dive’ on the individual topics rather than the broad brush overview we’re doing today.

Also, a warning, I’m probably going to talk about Thanos a lot. I won’t spoil End Game because I’m not evil, but Thanos will feature in a lot of my examples’.

Anyway, to get to the point, today in the ‘cliché’ series I would like to talk with you about cliché villains. The bad guys, the ones we love to hate, the contrast to the protagonist. So many of us love villains despite them being perhaps the worst for suffering from clichés.

I love it when you get a bloody good villain, and am heartbroken when you see a potentially good villain suffering from clichés. It makes them boring and these are your best opportunity for entertaining your reader or viewer or player. Villains are fantastic tools for creators, they can build dramatic tension, they can be hilarious, they can be sympathetic, they are probably the most versatile tool in your arsenal save from your protagonist.

So why do we use clichés?!?

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cliches, Horror Writing

Clichés: Aliens

Cliche’s are in all genres, not just horror.

Today I want to look at one that can span across horror and Sci Fi. Aliens.

Admittedly I tend to watch Sci-Fi more so than read it, I tend to absorb a bigger percentage of this genre via movies, games and television. But that aside the cliche’s of the genre shine through in all mediums.

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cliches, Horror Writing

Clichés: Heroes

Today we’re going to take a look at some of the clichés that befall protagonists, mostly in fantasy stories. I am, of course, talking about the ‘Hero’. Fiction and fantasy have come a long way over the years, and our character development has come along with them, we now have multifaceted heroes, flawed heroes, and anti-heroes (my personal favourite). But while we’ve come along way in some respects, there are still a lot of hero clichés out there and I’m going to rant about my most hated three.

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cliches, Horror Writing

Clichés: Werewolves

We’ve been talking a lot about various clichés recently, horror clichés, fantasy clichés, and cliché male and female characters. Today I wanted to branch out more into the horror genre and talk about a creature that turns up in a lot of horror stories, werewolves.

But before we start, I want to stress that I will be talking about the werewolves that tend to turn up in books. The reason I am making this definition is that there is something I have noticed. In books werewolves tend to appear as actual wolves with a human consciousness inside, the pack dynamic is regularly explored and the mannerisms of actual wolves make up a large part of the characters behaviours and traits. Whereas when they show up in films and video games, they appear more like a cross between man and wolf, they tend to be huge, walk on two legs and are pretty mindless save for a need to kill. There’s rarely a pack dynamic and they are often portrayed as stupid beasts completely separate from their “human side”. There is the odd exception to this, the movie Wolf with Jack Nicholson being the one that comes to mind for me.

Anyway, now that that point is out of the way, let’s roll.

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Clichés: Male Characters

As I said in my blog about female character clichés, one cannot avoid talking about gender when considering clichés. Male characters have just as many cliché’s as female characters and today we will be exploring some of the clichés that irritate me the absolute most.

Secret badass 

Usually, this type of character will be the perfectly normal nice chap on the surface, the guy next door type of character. He’s happy with his idyllic life, usually with his family and doesn’t seek anything else. Everyone thinks he’s just boring old Bob from number 22. But then something or usually someone, from Bob’s super-secret past that he never talks about will turn up.

This person might be a friend in desperate need of help, or they might be an old enemy who murder’s Bob’s family. Either way, Bob is suddenly taken out of his perfect little life (normally by his wife and child being killed or possibly kidnapped) and suddenly it turns out that Bob is a badass! Maybe he used to be the best secret assassin the world has ever known, perhaps he was in MI5 or some super-secret spy service that no one knows about. Either way, Bob will now proceed to kick ass and take names, he’ll be calm (although angry underneath the calm), he’ll be tough and amazing at all weapons. Bonus points if he can fly a plane or helicopter.

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cliches, Horror Writing

Clichés: Women

When writing a series about Cliché’s one cannot avoid talking about gender clichés, I plan to discuss both male clichés and female clichés in turn. Today we will be looking at the types of female character clichés that occur so often in stories.

I won’t be covering all of them just the ones that irritate me, as there are far to many to cover all of them.

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cliches, Horror Writing

Clichés: Fantasy

I recently wrote a blog about the clichés in the horror genre, it was fun to write and so I thought I might have a look at the clichés in another genre that I like to dabble in. That being Fantasy. Fantasy stories are full of clichés, so much so that it would take far longer than I have to discuss all of them (that and I’m sure you’d get bored are the first eighty).

So today, I want to discuss my top fantasy cliché, but as I am limiting the amount I’ll talk about I thought I’d talk about the biggest cliché in the genre (in my humble opinion) rather than any of my personal pet peeves (which can be obscure at times).

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cliches, Horror Writing

Horror Cliches

A cliché is an idea, form of expression, or element that has become overused to where it has lost nearly all meaning. It has become irritating, or amusing, especially when, at its original conception, it was novel or meaningful. Certain clichés can still work when done well or twisted in an original (ish) way, but many are so overdone that getting them to work originally is very difficult, if not impossible. 

Every genre has clichés, every medium has them, and every form of art and expression has them. The horror genre is no exception and as an avid consumer of horror, in its many mediums, I have become accustomed to certain clichés out there. 

Over the Christmas period, I had a whole eight days away from my day job and a large portion of that time was spent watching movies, reading a collection of short stories (people always know what I want for Christmas) and playing part of the way through a certain creepy game franchise. This means that I was exposed me to a multitude of clichés and today I want to talk about six that I find particularly irritating.

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