Imagine your character is stuck in a room with their worst fear. What happens? How do they react?
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writingravioli said: Time travel masterpost?
INSIDE THIS VERY LONG POST: Everything Headless has on time travel, including time travel theories, worldbuilding provisions, paradoxes and hypotheses, and other considerations (as brought to you by someone who knows absolutely nothing about science, physics, or time travel).
Let’s Do The Time Warp (Or Something)
Time travel is awesome.
Anonymous said: Hello! Currently, I'm writing a story about werewolves. While I think I've put quite an original spin on it, I want to know if you have any tips for not being cliché/writing tropes/etc. Thanks for your time!
Tropes are not necessarily a bad thing. A trope is a device or element of a story that a writer can reasonably expect most readers to recognize. A trope may become a cliché when it’s overused, though I am a firm believer in the philosophy: “it’s not the concept that matters but the execution”.
Here’s the TV Tropes page on Werebeast Tropes.
And here’s the one on Wolves.
Most of the werewolf clichés I can think of have to do specifically with werewolves and romance. I tried to come up with some other ones though:
- Female lead falls in love with werewolf. Werewolf is the alpha, always the alpha. His fur is also black, because black is mysterious *wiggles fingers*. He’s also the only black wolf.
- Male lead werewolf is always astonishingly beautiful, not rugged, or scarred or anything, because clearly werewolves don’t fight each other, nope, nope. Personally I like my werewolves a bit more gritty, Underworld style.
- Surprise! The female lead is also a werewolf. She has white fur and has some sort of amazing power. Perhaps she sparkles in the sun… wait…
- There’s a dog in the story. The dog is the only thing that recognizes the werewolf character is, in fact, a werewolf.
- Remember that being a werewolf is an affliction. It’s become a thing recently in media to only portray them as people who can shapeshift. The part about the pain tends to get left out, and I think that’s what makes werewolves interesting and complex.
- I’m pulling this one out of Twilight, but imprinting is creepy. I don’t think it’s a cliché yet, and I hope it doesn’t end up being used enough to become one.
- Constant references to the moon, whether in speech or in another form, that try to elude to the fact that your character is a werewolf, but ends up smacking the reader in the face instead.
- When a character watches a werewolf transform and ends up standing there instead of running, shooting, or doing anything other than staring, even if that character already knew beforehand who the werewolf was, and shouldn’t be surprised.
- Werewolves, and what constitutes the symptoms of being a werewolf as far as popular culture is concerned, are known well enough by the general public to be recognizable. I dislike when a character notices there are symptoms and then goes to look them up as if they have never heard of a werewolf before.
- Werewolves not actually using their wolf instincts — otherwise known as “werewolves who should know better doing stupid things and not thinking like the predators they are”. This includes getting caught in traps, not using their keen senses to avoid danger, running straight at someone with a weapon, etc.
- Magical Native American werewolves. Both cliché and offensive.
- When a character becomes a werewolf and suddenly loses his memory of the transformation once he’s human again. Or ends up in the forest naked.
I wouldn’t consider most of the actual werewolf lore to be necessarily cliché though.
- Full Moon Transformations - This became part of the werewolf lore when The Wolfman was introduced in the 1940s. A lot of writers use the full moon as the point of transformation for a werewolf character because it’s convenient. I’ve seen some instances where the werewolf character feels the pull of the moon whenever it’s out, not just when it’s full. There’s also been a ton of garbage pseudoscience used to attempt to explain how the relationship between werewolf and moon works, and most of the time it just ends up being confusing. There are stories that have full moon transformations and werewolves who can shift whenever they please, so it makes the full moon seem unnecessary. I’d like to see some more original concepts and/or executions of werewolf transformations. You may want to consider using the entire lunar cycle.
- Weaknesses - Some commonly accepted/used lore weaknesses are: silver, wolfsbane, lunar eclipses (losing their power), losing themselves to their curse, and decapitation/dismemberment.
- Different Forms - Werewolves have taken many different forms, including: Half man/half wolf, giant wolves, normal wolves, anthro (garou, the form we’re used to seeing), and everywhere in between. Feel free to be creative with the level of transformation your werewolves can attain. These forms may provide the werewolf with different abilities like increased speed, strength, enhanced senses, etc.
- It’s a Curse, Damn it - Becoming a werewolf is often caused by the infected bite or scratch from someone who is already a werewolf. The transformation is painful, personal, and the fear of losing oneself to the beast is present.
- Pack Mentality - Werewolves, like actual wolves, have some sort of pack connection, and a pack hierarchy. As such, they may also form a bond with a dog or actual wolf that becomes a companion. With this part of the lore, sometimes the concept of having a mate comes into play, and sometimes it steps in to the territory of being cliché as a lot of writers handle it as “my mate is my destined true love”.
That’s all I have for now. I hope that’s useful to you.
yo but mermaid monster hybrids though
- vampire mermaids who prey on their own kind — when they get bitten, their scales fall off, their tails turn a slick and fleshy grey, a dorsal fin begins to sprout from their spine, and suddenly there’s six rows of teeth where once there was only one
- mermaid medusas who’ve got eels for hair and it’s not their gaze that can turn you to stone but their song
- fairy mermaids who’re born of spite and mischief — they’re small, the size of seahorses, and they speed through the currents causing mayhem and sometimes destruction
- were-mermaids who turn into huge, hulking great whites when the full moon filters through the deep waters, who cannot be restrained because what shackles can you find in the deep?, who leave blood and guts in their wake
Let’s go deeper
- Mermaid dryads tied to a whole kept forest, fins and hair perfectly camouflaged with their natural habitat. They drift serenely through their gardens until it is threatened, when the whole kelp forest turns on the attacker and drags it down to its death.
- Elementally aligned mermaids - air-aligned mermaids leap joyously from the water and glide on tough fins, punching through the surface of the water like tiny spears of silver-blue. Fire-aligned mermaids drawn to deep volcanic vents, blind and sickly-white with teeth that fit together like a sieve.
- Kraken mermaids.
The travel writing lexicon is filled with cliches and vague descriptions. You know what I mean. Pick up the next guidebook you see and count how many things in the natural world are “breathtaking” and how many locales are a “hidden gem.”
Time to get all of those cliches out of your system.
Step 1: Look out favorite window and write about the view. What does it look like in the morning, afternoon, and evening? In your first draft, describe the “breathtaking” sunrise and the “charming” houses. Do some research: Review a few travel websites, guidebooks, and travel blogs. Find the language that is vague and sounds like a marketing promotion and copy it.
Step 2: Rewrite your draft. This time, write something meaningful and concrete. Show (don’t tell) us about the color of the sunrise, tell us what your neighbor is wearing. Your goal should be to write something that only fits your view and the way that you see it with vivid detail.
See faculty member Morgan DeBoer’s examples here: Try this exercise to rid your writing of cliches
When you’re trying to write dialogue, remember that each character will have his/her own motivations and will likely have different end goals for the way they want a conversation to go. This is true whether your characters are strategizing a plan to take down the Evil Emperor who lords over their land or it’s a couple in the middle of a fight.
Pay attention to each character’s motivations - not just your protagonists. Remember that these other characters may attempt to steer the conversation, to manipulate the other character by making him or her feel guilty, or they may drop hints about something that they want or need - something that your protagonists (but not you or the reader) may be oblivious to.
Also remember that when people want to talk about sensitive topics, they often drop big hints or details in order to test the reactions of the person they are speaking to. When a non-POV character does this, it can be a great method of foreshadowing.
Essentially, remember that other characters aren’t just sounding boards or messenger systems for plot details. They have their own goals and motivations, and dialogue is a great way to express that. (Plus, realistic dialogue helps to make for more realistic and relatable characters in a big way.)