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Favourite posts: Villain Stereotypes

December 19, 2010

For the month of December, Write Anything is hosting a retrospective of the posts that have appeared over the past four five years. We hope you enjoy revisiting these posts, as we take stock of where we have come from, and look forward to where we will be heading in the future!

This post first appeared on May 7, 2009 and was written by Andrea Allison.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a beta reader critiquing my work feed me the line “It’s not believable”. Sometimes it has more to do with the mythic creature not following the same “rules” pop culture has outlined for them. Horror writers are always trying to come up with the next big thing. How can you do that if someone isn’t willing to look outside the normal.

For example, vampires. What do we know about vampires? Through various types of entertainment, we know vampires are creatures of the night. They drink blood. General killing methods are sunlight, holy water, wooden stakes, beheading, silver and garlic. Some sleep in coffins and are repelled by crosses. Sometimes can’t enter a home without the owner’s permission. They most often turn in to bats but also can morph in to wolves or mist. They don’t cast a shadow or have reflections. Depending on what your reading or watching, there are more or different vampiric rules, but usually follow the majority.

If you refer to legends from all over the world, some vampires little or none of those traits. What if they were blind and sucked the breath from their victims rather than blood. Would that make them more or less scary? Some were known to control the weather. Dakhanavar in Armenia sucked blood from the soles of feet rather than the neck. Striga in Italy was more of a witch rather than vampire who cursed children. In Romania, odd births resulted in vampirism. The Muroni could shapeshift in to cats, dogs, fleas, and spiders rather than bats or wolves. All of these, provide writers with much freedom but would current viewers/readers believe such characteristics in vampires?

What villain stereotypes do you hate? How would you change them? Do you think society would accept your changes?

One Comment
  1. December 20, 2010 1:45 pm

    In the novels I read, I notice if the villain is too stereotypically presented; if he or she is 100% evil. In real life a lot of villains are actually quite charismatic who fool a lot of people. At the same time, I like to know what motivates them – power, money, etc. I’m sure this could be applied to the fantasy genre.

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