1. TheArcaneRose

    TheArcaneRose New Member

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    Werewolves - Too cliche to use?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TheArcaneRose, Aug 23, 2017.

    I am currently writing the first draft of my first attempt at a (fantasy) novel, and I have it planned out fully, more or less. However, there is one subplot which I hesitate on how to execute.

    Essentially, I have a character, Autumn, who is taken prisoner, tortured and experimented on. After considering several options, I recently came up with the idea to turn her into a werewolf, or a 'she-wolf', as it were. Not only does this introduce an interesting route about the psychological torture she must be going through after escaping and returning to the real world as this creature, but it makes sense in the world the story takes place in, as there is a nebulous plague festering that can turn humans into beasts or other grotesque creatures. The initial experiments are an attempt to find a cure to this as well. Sounds good.

    The problem I have is that the whole notion of a werewolf has been done to death multiple times over. We've seen it all before: having to side your true self from the people you meet, the horror, the glorification of the concept, everything. So my question to you is: do you think the way I've put forward sounds cliche, and would you be turned off by the thought of a werewolf? I'll be honest, I probably would be, but it seems too fitting to just pass on.

    For those wondering too, my initial plans were to imbue her with the power of lightning in an attempt to create a magical super-soldier, and her arc is her learning to control this inherently destructive power after escaping. Do you prefer this to the werewolf idea? I'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter.

    Thanks.
     
  2. surrealscenes

    surrealscenes Senior Member

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    As I read your description, I was picturing a flawed were-creature. Like if the experiments didn't work all the way correctly so she rarely turns full, usually it is a partial change that doesn't always help. Maybe her head transforms but nothing else, so she can smell really well, but can't hold her head up or run or anything.
     
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  3. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    The lightning idea seems cool, but the werewolf makes a bit more thematic sense from what you've said. You could still turn her into a sort werebeast of some kind - something monstrous that's not a wolf or any kind of identifiable animal.

    In a more general sense, I think that nothing is too cliche to use, as long as you do something interesting with it.

    On the other hand, I think you should write something you would like to read. If the werewolf thing doesn't appeal to you, skip it.
     
  4. TheArcaneRose

    TheArcaneRose New Member

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    It's not necessarily that I'm opposed to the idea of werewolves in general - I'd read almost anything if it was done well - it's just that when I personally see a book about werewolves, I immediately roll my eyes and think, Here we go again. It's the same with vampires. It seems that most of them are just the typical 'girl meets beast boy and they fall in love', which I am definitely not interested in. I wouldn't mind trying my hand at the idea I came up with because it doesn't romanticize the subject (well, it sort of does, but in a very dark way).

    In which case, would you say the way I came up with was interesting and not cliche? It's more the premise than the execution that I'm more weary of. I think that readers will be more turned off if they have seen it done a million times.
     
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  5. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    Yeah, I think your 'lycanthropy' as a result of messing with this metamorphic plague is cool. It put the shapeshifting in a different context. But to be fair, I'm also not burnt out on werewolves in general, so there's that.
     
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  6. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    There are too many lawyers, and not enough good ones.

    Same with everything else ;) If you want to write a werewolf story, then there's someone like you in the world who'll want to read it :)
     
  7. Nilfiry

    Nilfiry Senior Member

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    Nope, go for it. Cliches do not mean anything. Many, many, many things in writing can be considered cliches. It all comes down to the execution. Actually, even the execution of ideas can be trite, but it will sell regardless if it in line with what people like.
     
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  8. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    1) If you really want to make your werewolf portrayal different from other people's werewolf portrayals, ask yourself what you don't like about other portrayals, then do something else.

    When my brain fails to come up with good ideas, I've almost always found better luck at trying to come up with the opposite of a bad idea instead :p If you don't like stories where lycanthropy is either a) kept a secret, b) horrific, and/or c) glorified, then just do something other than any of those :)

    2) When I was a kid, the first super-hero identity that I ever came up with for my (very active) daydreams was a werewolf who could also use electricity :D

    Almost every time that I have ever asked myself "Should I write X or Y," the answer has turned out to be "Both" ;)
     
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  9. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    It doesn't sound cliche. The metamorphic plague comes off as quite original to me.

    I'm going to second Simpson here and say that if there's something about the portrayal of werewolves you don't like, flip it, tweak it, whatever you need to do to make a story you like. Speaking from my own experience with worldbuilding werewolves within my magic system, turning back and forth didn't work in most cases. The magic system was just too physics based for it. So I made them victims of a blood magic curse designed to protect certain abandoned sites--that could also be spread through bites--which permanently locked them in a form somewhere between human and wolf and made them feral. That also gave me the chance to play up the tragedy of their situation, since the only "treatment" is death.

    Lastly, if you end up being unable to shake fears of werewolf cliches, you could always go for some other were-creature from global folklore that's a bit less well known.
     
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  10. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    If you want to break away from the clich├ęs that can come with werewolfery, why not try @izzybot 's idea of turning her into some other kind of fierce beast? A bear or a cougar or a lion, whatever. That way you won't be hamstrung by werewolf mythology either. You can make up your own rules. The main thing to decide is whether she's going to be a pack-oriented animal, or one who lives alone. Both options give you a lot to work with.

    Some people love stories about werewolves, and creating a werewolf will make it easier to sell your story to them. However, some people like myself are kind of put off by 'werewolf' the same as I'm put off by 'zombie,' 'vampire,' and other mythological creatures that are being used A LOT these days as the basis for stories. Not using a werewolf would sell your story to people like me. So there are pluses and minuses to both routes.
     
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  11. Anna100

    Anna100 Active Member

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    You're aware of the cliche, so I think you will be able to create something different. And as long as it's good and/or interesting you can write about anything, in my opinion.
    As others have mentioned, you could have her turn into something else than a werewolf or maybe a mix of different animals (or something strange that is hard to identify). Shapeshifting is fascinating and there's a lot you can do with it.
    I also agree that the plague is a good idea.
     
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