1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Demon cliches

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Lea`Brooks, Jul 5, 2015.

    Yo! I tried to avoid posting this because I feel like I ask too many questions... lol But I need help.

    My WIP has a demon as the villain. But, since I haven't read many stories containing demons, I don't really know what's cliched and what's not. I've done a lot of looking (damn those people who have black backgrounds with white text... makes my eyes go all buggy), but all I could find are demon/angel relationships, not demons themselves.

    So! What do you think is the most annoying demon cliches? Horns? Wearing black? Being a super sexy man or a hideously ugly beast? Being purely evil? I'm going to try to take all of your suggestions and make something as original as possible. :)


    Extra credit question: Do demons have to have a "leader?" I've seen a lot of TV shows in which demons are always working for someone more evil than them. They band together and work for the common evil, doing bad things as a group instead of individuals. I find that incredibly annoying (why should demons have any more every day structure than humans?). Am I the only one? Is a hierarchy system necessary or is it okay if I just exclude it?

    Extra credit question #2: There are three demons in my story, and I wanted to make each one different. I came up with one character, and her name is Liridona. She's a snake demon. She has grey skin, long stringy grey hair, and one completely red eye and one silver eye. She can shift into a snake and smell people's fear, so she's good at telling when people are lying. Does that sound too cliched? I'm not stuck on this idea, so if I have to change it, I will.


    Thanks all!
     
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  2. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    My suggestion when you're not sure what to do, is go back to the source material itself. Demons appear in numerous religious texts and folklore and they are often depicted in several different ways.

    They are often tricksters. Everything they do for you has a catch. They'll help you find your missing wallet; that they stole from you in the first place. They will get you into loads of trouble. Sure, they'll get you out of it, eventually. For this depiction, you want to look at the old Norse myths of Loki. (Not the Avengers character. The real Loki, son of the frost giants.) You want to look at the Book of Job from the Bible. Look at The Screwtape Letters

    They are often frightening spirits of malice. These are the demons that posses you. The New Testament is stuffed full of these kinds of devils. There's Legion, and others. These are popularized in media with movies like the Exorcist. When this type of demon is done well, they are scary. When done not so well, they're silly.

    They are often deal makers. Faust is a prime piece of literature with this kind of demon. Every deal with a catch. Mormons have some very interesting stories of demons as deal makers. One with Cain becoming Master Mohan, the master of the "great secret": I can kill and get gain. There's Korihor. These demons will always have a catch with their deal, and they never protect you from the trouble it gets you into.

    Remember, that a cliche is only bad when it's not done well.
     
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  3. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    The point was I wanted to do something different and original, not just another demon that's been seen a million times...

    But thanks! I'll start there and see what not to do.
     
  4. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    My point wasn't suggesting you do any of these. My point was that often times cliches happen when people aren't familiar with the source material and just go off of what other authors have done.
     
  5. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Some cliches can work, though. I appreciate you want to do something different so that your readers are held by the story rather than rolling their eyes with thoughts of 'not another cliched demon ...' but you also need to be careful not to stray too far from the beaten track, otherwise you run the risk of losing your reader along the way.

    Perhaps you could have a regular demon who has an extra side to him, sort of, a desire to be 'normal', or even good. Or, if comedy is your thing, you have a demon who can destroy the world with a click of his finger but enjoys knitting.

    Have a play around with your characters and see what happens.

    Good Luck x
     
  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, during my research of cliches, I saw an article talking about the grey area between good and evil, suggesting people play with it. The author said that people are growing bored of the typical pure evil demons and to add some personality to them. I wanted to try to twist it so he's almost human, just pretty dark and twisted. lol Almost like a shrewd businessman.

    But alas.. I haven't decided on the proper course for him yet. I've been so focused on him that I haven't looked too much into "demons" as a whole. Maybe if I figure out their role in society, his personality will come to me better.

    Really, I was more concerned about his appearance than his personality. I know certain things are cliched, but since I haven't seen demons much in novels, I don't really know how they normally look. Obviously a big red demon with horns is cliched. But a pure white demon with very little facial features? Or one with two different skin tones? Or even the one in my OP? I don't know if those are cliched. There's not much information online about the kind of demons that authors create, so I'd almost have to go out and read every novel about them to get a good idea of what's out there. And I just don't have that kind of patience. lol
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, the good news is: demons don't exist. So you can make your demons do anything you want. That also means you need to think up reasons for their existence, come up with things they are able to do, things they can't do, things they are likely to do. What thwarts them? What helps them? This is where you should forget anybody else's conception of demons and come up with your own.

    I'd say think about what you want their role to be in the story. Do you want them to scare people right off the bat? Do you want them to attract people? Do you want them to be obvious aliens, or do you want them to meld into human society? Do they have an ethnic/folkloric background? Do you want your readers to know they are demons at the start of the story, or will this be revealed later on? Will your readers get to know them well, or will they be just background beings, like the orcs in Lord of the Rings? How important will their personalities be? And of course, the subject you've touched on ...will they be 'grey' demons, or black/white demons.

    I'd say to strive to make your STORY original. You could start by calling them something other than 'demons.' That's a bit cliche right there. If you come up with another thing to call them, nobody can point the finger and say "oh, another story about demons..." Then even if the demon's physical appearance is similar to what crops up in other stories it won't matter, because your story won't be the same, and it won't be about demons.

    The problem is, writing about 'demons' is a very popular thing to do just now, so the concept isn't original. What will be original, I hope, will be your story. Think of your central story, get your characters in place, start pulling strings and see what happens.
     
  8. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Google the TV tropes page 'our demons are different' which lists the common ways of doing demons.

    Just because it's a trope doesn't mean it's a bad thing to do, but if you're going for something truly different it should give you some things to avoid.
     
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  9. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I think (and I wasn't a massive fan so I didn't follow it all) that Charmed did the demon character of Cole Turner very well insofar as he ended up marrying Phoebe (the good witch) and so wanted to be good for her but just couldn't fully commit to a life away from being an evil demon. In the 'real' world of Charmed, Cole was a sexy, tall dark and handsome but shrewd business man, the kind that does the morally bad but still legal side of business (like, I imagine, hostile take-overs).

    Compare him to Leo, who was, I think, the total opposite. I think he was an angel or what I would call, a good demon. The trouble is, he was too goody goody. Because he was an angel (and also married to Phoebe's sister, another good witch) his allegiance was more to Heaven than his wife, only by a small amount but enough to be noticeable. As for appearances, Cole (evil) was always in sharp, expensive suits, perfectly combed hair, mischievous smile and dark eyes, (and then the typical evil robes when he went into the underworld) whereas Leo, was always in soft jeans and a t-shirt or casual button down shirt except for when he was doing the Heaven work and then he'd be in white robes. Typical cliche but kind of what you would expect.

    That's what I got from the series. Whether or not that was the writer's intention, is another matter completely! LOL
     
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  10. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I found that page in my research, and it helped some. I just wish there was more to it. :p
     
  11. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I did enjoy that show's portrayal of both of those characters (although I do hate angel=white and demon=black). Leo actually ended up kind of losing it and started acting really erratically, breaking away from the traditional "angels are all good" cliche. And similarly with Cole, they showed his "good" side, even though he fell back into his evil ways. I liked too how demons just lived among people, doing normal people things.

    But I hated that they worked for "the Source." I guess if you go with traditional religious angels and demons, angels work for a God-like being and demons work for a Devil-like being... But I hate that. lol I don't really know why. It just irks me. But if they don't work for a higher being, then what's the point?

    I guess that's the biggest thing I need to figure out right now. :p
     
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  12. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Yep. Even if they don't work for a higher being (good or evil) they have to work for something or what's the point? That's the basis of your story. Maybe there is a higher being but your demon wants to overthrow him/her and run things differently.

    I guess you would have to put thought into what would the demons be like if there was no higher being to reign them in from time to time. Surely having free reign with that much evil could lead to a massive catastrophe.

    I've enjoyed thinking about this myself but wouldn't know which direction to go. Good luck and keep us in the loop, sounds very interesting!
    x
     
  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I saw the thread title out of the corner of my eye under "recent posts" and I thought it read: "Demon chickens" :supergrin:

    Anyway you can try C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters - it's a series of letters written in the person of a senior demon, I think, giving his demon nephew advice on how best to damn mankind and lead them to destruction.

    Otherwise, take a look at Czech fairytales - demons and devils are very popular in their fairytales and they're much more like normal characters than your typical western demons influenced by mainstream Christianity. In fact, I once taught a Czech student who had a devil tattooed to her back because she feels the creature symbolised strength :nosleep: but it wasn't seen as something absurd or disturbing or that somehow she's a satanist or something. It was as normal as if she'd tattooed an angel on her back, only it's a demon. I found it immensely disturbing personally, but it does goes to show the difference in perceptions of demons/devils within Czech culture, which might give you something fresh to build with/from?
     
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  14. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks all! It's been very helpful.

    I actually just came up with (hopefully) a really cool idea about how my "demons" come into being. I've decided not to call them demons, but a different thing entirely. Haven't decided on a "higher power" for them or not. But I'll figure it out eventually. :p As long as I'm moving forward, it's progress, no matter how small it is.
     
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