Firstly, I should say the purpose of this article is not to steer you away from clichés but rather to help you recognise them, then twist them into a different evil mould.
There are many clichés and right off the top of my head, I can name at least five. The main character gets eaten; a scientist with the ego tries to play god by preparing an experiment that goes dastardly wrong, the characters ignore warnings, vampires and the like – rules set in stone – (and although it is hard to steer away from main stream perception, it would likely create a great prose if you did), another cliché is the characters splitting up to supposedly increasing the chance of survival.
And don’t get me started on the weak and helpless heroine scanty dressed with big breasts and long blond hair.
Turn the knife a little and you have to admit, most clichés can be the output of lazy writing. Some writers repeat what earlier writers have written, only to end up disappointed with the performance of the novel in the literary arena. This imminent death is a lack of imagination and, if not kept in check, and may lead to Coronary Writers Disease!
My point is, these plots, have been beaten to death and some writers may think it is becoming increasingly harder to develop your own original idea. But it’s not. And I’ll tell you why.
We humans are inherently evil! *loud wicked laugh escapes and twists hands in a circular motion* Have a look at the news headlines on any random day. There’s endless reports of robberies, bullies, murderers, corporate fraud and terrorists. Not entirely convinced we are predisposed to evil inclinations?
What about Funniest Home Videos? Who of you actually looks away when the young child on a bike runs over his little sister on purpose? Didn’t you want to do that when you were younger? You laughed as well, didn’t you? Questioning your stance yet?
Hands up who’d you rather be – a troll living under the bridge coming up with ingenious malevolent ways to stop people getting to the other side or a fairy flitting around the bulb of a lovely sun yellow flower? The latter, I’m sure you’d agree, would become boring quite quickly.
It comes down to this, do you yearn to take the opportunity to answer the dark whisper that lingers to the front of your mind every once in a while, the one that aches to know what full control and complete power over another human feels like? The answer should be ‘no’, however, there is an internal nature of evil in us and we can choose to embrace it or suppress it (For writing sake).
Let’s adapt clichés by wrenching them forward to the present and by defining our thoughts on the word evil. If we are so inherently wicked then it stands to reason that we write from our black hearts.
Sometimes it’s not easy but the monsters we create may well be looking back at us in the mirror on a daily basis.
By defining evil as it relates to ourselves, not as an enigma, writers are able to feel the struggle within their characters; imagine how it would feel. It may be painful at times, it may show a lack of moral solitude or ethics but when all is done, you may well have a best-seller on your hands.
There are three types of horror to help you move forward from the plot cliché.
- The Gross
CLICHÉ – This is the slimy green ‘Ghostbuster-type’ stuff or the severed head on a stick.
- Unnatural Horror
CLICHÉ – The huge spiders of Harry Potter or the dead rising to wreak havoc on society.
This is what puts the horror into horror. The psychological terror of messing with your mind, your life and society. The real-life, where our readers are not yet conditioned to this way of thinking.
Sigmund Freud said, “No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human breast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.”
The facts cannot be ignored any longer, you must put yourself into that character’s head, that terrifying hypothetical situation of dire consequences. The chilly truths of your minds darkest secrets provide a prose which eliminates the clichés or at the very least twists them with the sadistic scrutiny of a real-life human.
Be the monster!
The genre of horror can potentially inject a potent concoction of originality, style, 3D characters and a plot that you can really get caught up in if you allow the darkness within you to rise.
I have an idea for a new novel. Opening chapter begins with an crazy mob carrying fiery torches and pitch forks, heading to the laboratory of a mad scientist who is experimenting with powers of creation. The leader of the mob, likely a religious man, is taken by a ‘monster’ which escapes.
A few years later a group of fit super-model teens run out of fuel and end up in the township, they decide to split up after the monster, half-human and half-beast, scares the bejesus out of them.
The gorgeous blond, Bimbo, is trapped in the old lab. Its dark and when the monster enters the store room, she heads in too investigate why she heard a strange moaning noise come from inside.
Now, a lot of running and screaming happens as she tries to escape after the monster kills her friends.
With just Bimbo and Dumbo (her soon to be boyfriend after such a tragic situation brings them together) left, they confront the monster and kill him.
But wait! He’s not completely dead!
The monster rises and while Dumbo isn’t looking the monster kills him. Leaving Bimbo left to finish off the monster and leave the town alone.
What do you think? Do you think this plot line is original and would sell? What would you do to make it better?