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  1. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Dead Genres/Genre Variants

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Berenice, Oct 15, 2011.

    I think that there are a few genres/genre variants which these past years died a very sorry death and now are so fraught and loaded with stereotypes and "have it seen already" that it's useless to write them during the next decade or so.

    Vampires and werewolves definitely belong there in my opinion. Also most "urban fantasy," by now I yawn when such stuff is on on TV and I have ceased to be even mildly interested in stories or books.

    SciFi also has suffered, as have medieval fantasy, pirates and Roman gladiator stiories.

    What has ceased working for you?
     
  2. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Your post implies that everything in these genres is the same and written the same. Which is not the case. Just because something has been done before doesn't mean someone cant put their own spin on it and make it better. There is plenty of terrible books out there in these genres, but there is also very good books in these genres.

    I would say you need to spend your time watching good shows and reading good books. The genre doesn't matter if it is well written and or acted.
     
  3. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Hmm, I sharply disagree there. Not with what you think my post implies - it doesn't (imply), it's what I think is the actual case.

    Name e.g. one recent vampire novel or show or movie which was truly novel (in the literary sense), intriguing and fresh enough not to yawn after a few moments. I've read a load, watched a load and it's all the very (lame) same. It's even worse within the shapeshifter/werewolf trope.

    To me these genre variants are as dead as can be.
     
  4. colinbeckett
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    colinbeckett Member

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    Vampire Diaries has vastly improved from its first season.
    As for "medieval fantasy", the Song of Ice and Fire series was quite refreshing in its complexity and the humanness of the characters. And translated very well to the TV series (Game of Thrones).

    It is not always the premise of a work that makes it fresh, the characters and writing play large roles, and it sounds as if you haven't really given any modern genre pieces a fair chance.
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    That's the key part though- to you.

    Whilst there has been a glut of (in my opinion) unoriginal novels about vampires, they are by no means exclusive. Take a look at Jasper Kent's Danilov Quintet, of which the third book has just been published. Very engaging vampire fiction, with a reasonably original slant.

    Also, original sci-fi is very much alive and well. I'd suggest you're looking in the wrong place :)
     
  6. Allan Paas
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    Allan Paas Contributing Member

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    They aren't the same but they are too similar, even total ripoffs, which, yes, tends to deaden the genre. I watched a series that had vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, and so on, then a movie with all that came, then another series like that, then another and another, it kinda pissed me off. Seriously, can't anyone come up with new, original stuff?
    True Blood I like, it was the first and looks the most original one.
     
  7. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Well, I haven't read any vampire/werewolf/shape-shifter novels in years. Plus, I didn't say there was any recently written good ones, I said that there COULD be if it was well written. Just because it has been through the ringer with crap doesn't mean it cant be done well by someone else is all the point I am trying to make.

    And as far as "medieval fantasy" goes (I mainly only read high fantasy), A Song of Ice and Fire series is well written and well adapted through HBO.

    All my point is that you should be more selective of what you watch and read and you wont be so disappointed. And like I said before, just because it has been done a thousand times bad doesn't mean someone cant do it awesomely once.
     
  8. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    The last vampire I re-read (lol) was Dracula. Upon re-reading it, I knew that my cringing disdain for the Twilight series was justified. Goody goody gumdrop vampires don't do it for me. But that is my opinion. And I will not ever ring the death knell on the vampire genre based on the present. Give a few turns of the time wheel and vampires will get another resurgence. They may even be reverted back to how the ye olde folklore dreamed them up... and improved upon. Who knows? Unless someone out there can peer into the future?
     
  9. agentkirb
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    I think most "major" genre's have stereotypes for specific sub-genres. I'm hardcore into mystery stories and the "gritty crime thriller" sub-genre has a few stereotypes that have been done hundreds of times. The cliche cop main character that is tough and emotionless, divorced 4 times and has a "dark" past. The small town settings that always seem to have some hidden secret that ends up being uncovered by the end of the story, or the big city settings where corruption is rampant.

    That doesn't mean that "stereotype" = crap. When you think of how many "forensic crime/investigatory" shows they have on the air like CSI:Vegas/NY/Miami, Law and Order (all flavors), NCIS, etc. And those are just the most popular ones.
     
  10. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    Once the bandwagon has been ridden into the ground, the things that made these genres appeal to begin with will re-emerge. Life is a series of cycles, after all.
     
  11. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    @ Batgoat:

    Yes to most of what you say

    @ Alan Paas:

    Though already True Blood was, coming after Buffy and Twilight, to me too much and too much of a stereotype. And yes, Bram Stoker sort of is the deliminator for me. His Dracula was sexy and still horrific.

    That's a million miles from what I posed though :cool:.

    The genre was just as dead for roughly 2-3 decades after the flurry of Dracula and Frankenstein movies in the 1920ies and 1930ies. The first major comeback and novel approach was the Hammer horror, and with it the sexy vampires and monsters in the 1960ies. So now I wait around until - what? - 2040?

    Too bloated, not going anywhere really and the characters are not developed enough to be to my liking. I was unable to finish the first book, and gave it away (and that's not something I do often).

    Awfully clunky, boring prose and what is original there?

    :p Vampire Diaries is a re-hash and cashing in on the Twilight and Buffy crowds. It's certainly exactly what I mean by saying the genre is dead.

    Oh, that's also a pointer to what I mean. I ceased watching forensic crime shows excactly because I got satiated by it. Too much candy and you start to get sick. I only recently got intrigued into watching something similar again with the new Sherlock Holmes series.
     
  12. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well lets be fair. Only the TV series adaption appeared after Twilight was first published. The book series still has that beat by a good few years.

    Also lets be fair that the Vampire Diaries, atleast the book series, came even before the movie Buffy the Vampireslayer


    So its sorta like. Buffy was a cash in on Vampire Diaries, which inspired the Southern Vampire Mysteries(True Blood), Which then brought about Twilight. Which made it possible for these other series to cash in on the new success by adapting them to TV.

    ...

    or something.

    So yeah you are absolutely correct in that these series are sorta cashing in on Buffy/Twilight.
     
  13. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    I think a very important reason why there hasn't been really anything new in these genres in the recent past is that these authors write their characters while attempting to cater to the die-hard people who love these subgenres and cringe at the thought of seeing anything different from what they're used to see. It's the same thing with cheap horror flicks - there's ALWAYS a group of people stranded somewhere, the murderer is ALWAYS a degenerate which was made like that because he had demented parents or something like that, and so on. Also, have you really watched a recent comedy film which didn't use the same old rehashed formula and jokes and the irresistible need to have a moral thought in the end of the movie? But people keep buying it, so it won't stop. It's like junk food.

    I'm writing a novel with vampires in it (which is what I prefer to call it instead of a "vampire novel"). My vampires have all the immunities and weaknesses of the classic vampire. I was asked by a friend if I had read the classics, to which my reply was "not really", then she (rightfully, I should add) scolded me about it. However, her behaviour told me something else: people who read stuff about vampires expect their vampires to strictly follow the stereotype and power arsenal and will heavily criticise an author that doesn't idealise his/her vampires within said stereotype. "Sparkly vampires" anyone? Writing quality issues aside (I haven't read Twilight and don't plan to since I'm not within its target demographic, so I can't judge), Stephenie Meyer gets bashed for something silly like that (and I'm guilty of doing it!). Not following all the rules of the vampiric lore doesn't mean your work is bad. (I'd say the fact Meyer's werewolves aren't anthropomorphic in the movies is far worse than the sparkly vampires, but that's me)

    Therefore, I think that, although the authors themselves aren't exempt from being unoriginal, the public itself is at fault. The public likes certain things, and only certain things. A public with more eclectic taste would enjoy a different take on a tired genre, but this public is a minority unfortunately.
     
  14. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cry more, is my suggestion. I feel I've been reading this discussion for several months now, and I consider the discussion to be even more so dead than the genres it speaks of.

    What's happening is people are deciding, "I'm going to write a story" and they're writing about things that are popular. That's happening. Other things happen too, like breathing and sometimes we move house, but one of the things that's happening is people (read: a lot of people) are deciding to write a story they've already read or seen. It's not hard to write a farmboy fantasy. It's not hard to write vampires and werewolves. It's not hard to write pornography.

    Whenever I hang out with my little sister, I find myself looking at a poster of Robert Pattinson she has that says something to the tune of, "Women used to wants guys to take their shirts off. Now it's, 'I want you to bite me'."
    Not only is that weird as hell coming from RPatt, but it's also strangely true. Hell, I myself, a relatively ordinary and unimpressive (not emo or goth or anything ridiculous. Just a normal) male of 19 years, love the taste of blood, but I also love the pain of being bitten (along with numerous other forms of pain).

    Vampires used to be dangerous. They used to be used in horror as a way of saying that humans have the ability to change into something menacing forever.
    Werewolves were similar in that they're used to show that humans can change into something menacing while retaining humanity. Both are incredibly terrifying ideas.

    Now, though, vampires are sexy and werewolves are big and muscular. The debate now is almost like a picket sign of "Vampires are humans too!" and "Werewolves are just really hairy blokes!"

    I prefer the horrific side of things personally, though.
     
  15. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Well, the last vampire movie I wholeheartedly enjoyed was Carpenter's "Vampires." Even though quite some liberties were taken, the movie wasn't disrespectful to the genre and - what a relief!!! - no teenager in sight. Not one. Wow. Nothing against teenagers, but heck, in my (teenage) time we used to watch movies featuring mostly adult heroes and still loved them. Somehow someone currently seems to think that's become impossible.

    Don't start me on Meyer :D I can forgive her the "sparkly" (though I hate the cutesy factor of that), but never the wimpiness of the heroine, nor that anti-sensual and marriage message.

    I don't mind liberties with the genre, I loved the 1983 The Hunger for instance. It's when they all turn out being variants of the same-same that I feel the genre gets the kick into the coffin, and that is what happened lately, be it vampires, werewolves or demons.
     
  16. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I think for me the part that gets my goat is not that these new pretty boy vampires are new, it's that they are just pretty boys with funny teeth. The genre has shifted from horror to paranormal teenage romance. There are however some attempts to return the genre to its origins. The Being Human series (the British one) was awesome for a start as it gave us once more vampires and werewolves as cursed people with monsters inside them, always threatening to get out.

    Cheers.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no writer worth his/her salt should avoid any genre they really want to write in just because it may be overdone at the moment, or is being done poorly...

    1. if being done poorly at the moment, one can always try to do it better

    2. what a writer starts writing today couldn't be seen in book/film/tv form for at the very least a couple of years and more likely, several [unless self/e-published, which i'm not considering here], which means that genre could actually be 'hot' at that point and make the work more sellable than when it was started...
     
  18. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Seriously, I write - also - because I want to sell, and few publishers currently will consider jumping further onto the bandwagon. Most if not all of them already have several authors under contract who write a variety of vampire, werewolf or magic, both for children/youths and adults. They won't be looking at replacements, that's my personal experience with writing genre stereotypes (even if you write it differently or better). In a few decades, yes maybe, but I want to sell in the interim as well!

    I am just now writing a shapechanger story which a) crosses genres and b) has an angle I so far found nowhere else, I will finish that and I am pretty sure that it will sell, not because of the shapchanger aspect, but instead because of the strong secondary genre aspect.

    Instead of catering to what I see as dead genre variants I tend to think in terms of what is fresh, what hasn't yet/lately been done prominently.
     
  19. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    You might try looking at Neil Gaiman, although I think the latest thing of his along those lines is The Graveyard Book which is for kids. I won't give any spoilers by saying what appears in it.
     
  20. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    I'm ok with Gaiman's work with comics, and certainly support his legal defense fund, but his novels never were to my liking, and The Graveyard Book is simply a ripoff of Kipling's Mowgli.

    Actually it is an excellent example of why I think that the supernaturals genre currently is facing imminent death (we are just moments away from what was Godzilla meets Frankenstein in the 1930ies and 1940ies). Why would anyone turn Kipling's tale into a supernatural one? There are a dozen other ways to modernise it, without involving any ghosts or other supernatural beings. So why do it unless it's to cash in on a trend?
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's fine, for a goal, but still ignores the fact that it takes a year or more to write and polish a novel ms, then probably a year or more to snag an agent/publisher, then another 1 1/2 to 2 years before the book can be on the shelves... by which time what you wrote that was so nice and 'fresh/not lately done' when you started, could well be unfresh/lately overdone!
     
  22. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Errm... says who?

    I won't be pointing at myself, though I do need less than a year, but how about - for example - Georges Simenon (500+ works), Enid Blyton (600+), Isaac Asimov (500+) or Alexandre Dumas (277)? More modern maybe, Barbara Cartland, who wrote 23 novels in a year and has 722 published works under her belt. Or Nora Roberts with 200+ published novels and she is still producing.

    So no, that's no argument. And "overdone" isn't happening in a week or two - the overdone vampire field started out with Buffy, and culminated in Twilight and its horrendous aftermath. Those are decades not a few years.
     
  23. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ripoff? I've read both and they're nothing like each other, apart from the basic plot structures. As Cog says whenever anybody tries to pitch a plot on these forums: all plots have been done before, what matters is how well you write it -- and I think Gaiman writes it well.
    And was that the death of the monster story?
    Because it's an interesting twist, it's the genre Gaiman does best, and it's the particular way of modernising (?) The Jungle Book that Gaiman was inspired to write. Gaiman had the idea for The Graveyard Book in 1985, and worked on it, on and off, from then onwards, so he was well ahead of any current trend for supernatural fiction (which I first became aware of when Buffy the Vampire Slayer started spawning spin-offs (Angel) and other supernatural programs (Charmed, True Blood) started to appear in its shadow.
     
  24. Berenice
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    That was somewhere between Frankenstein meets Dracula and Godzilla vs. King Kong I'd say...

    I'm sorry, but I find it extremely boring and not particularly novel. But then I dislike authors giving too well known plots "a twist" in the vast majority of cases. Once something was done so well by a renowned artist, that it is part of the collective mind, I find it really hard coming up with something which tickles even in a minor way. I just read Kody Keplinger's Shut Out which is Aristophanes' Lysistrata on a US high school, snarky feminist girls vs. silly jocks, and I am still scrubbing my brain clean after committing the huge mistake of reading it. Kipling created *the* ultimate story of that kind, and Gaiman isn't even a tenth of Kipling's literary worth. That's the trouble and results in "same old-same old" and "rip off."

    That is only partially true. You mistake basic plot here with specific plotline. The basic plot of The Jungle Book is a "feral child." That covers Romulus and Remus, it covers Kaspar Hauser stories, it covers Nell, Tarzan, Enkidu, to name a few, and yes, of course also Mowgli. So instead of taking the basic plot and using it, Gaiman uses a concrete, a specific plot, and there writing well ceases to be enough.

    There are very few instances where this does work, one which comes to my mind is My Fair Lady, which is based on Pygmalion which again is based on Pygmalion and Galatea, which again is based on Greek sculptures. But it's quite rare, and usually only works well when the prior specific plotline is given its full due.
     
  25. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you mean King Kong vs. Godzilla? Well, I'm surprised that you think there have been no good monster stories since then -- you must have very specialised tastes! Species was heavily based on Frankenstein, but I think it worked reasonably well as a monster movie. All of the Doctor Who monsters are subsequent to King Kong vs. Godzilla. Gremlins? The various recent(ish) Cthulu films? The Mummy series? Eight Legged Freaks? Jaws? The genre doesn't look quite dead yet.
    I've found that you reach a point in experience when giving well known plots a twist is all there is. I can't remember when I last read or watched something that wasn't a variation on a plot I knew very well. You then either abandon fiction altogether or you learn to appreciate the execution. Lots of people before Kipling had created the "ultimate" story of that kind too (you reference some of them) but Kipling didn't accept that he couldn't use them to come up with something good -- he probably didn't even consider the idea -- and there's no reason why modern writers should either.
    It's only the "ultimate story of that kind" until somebody writes the next "ultimate story of that kind". How do you judge "literary worth"?
    No, I don't mistake the two. I mean plot in the sense studied by academics such as Propp and Greimas, right down to the level popularised by TV Tropes.
    Do I take it you don't think much of Shakespeare, then? Oh, and Gaiman has always given full due to The Jungle Book as the inspiration for The Graveyard Book. Even the title is a nod in that direction.

    Shaw's Pygmalion doesn't follow Pygmalion and Galatea particularly closely, by the way. Higgins doesn't fall in love with Eliza, for a start -- Shaw was quite explicit that Higgins wasn't even capable of that (something My Fair Lady fudged horribly), that subsequent to the play Eliza marries Freddie (Freddie loves Eliza; Eliza has no time for such emotions but sees Freddie as the key to a better life), and that Higgins' mother sets them up with the flower shop that Eliza had always dreamed of. Shaw's Pygmalion was a subversion of Pygmalion and Galatea, not a retelling.
     

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