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Horror Tropes: Who Wore It Best?

I love the community I have found in The Horror Writers Association! This month they piloted a program called Horror U, which consisted of fabulous professional development classes led by experts in the field. Last night, I took a class with the incredible Tim Waggoner, who is a revered (and super entertaining) horror writer and teacher. His class was called “Done To Death,” and it was about tropes and cliches in horror, and ways that authors can avoid or rework them in order for their writing to pack a bigger punch. While familiarity is a cornerstone of the horror genre, over familiarity leads to boredom.


One way that writers can play with the tropes is by dressing them up in new clothing. Three of horror’s most familiar (and scary!) characters are actually reworked tropes. These are great examples of how a little elbow grease and original thinking can make the familiar new and exciting again!


And so.....who wore it better?


Michael Myers

With his white face, dark clothing, and sharp implement, this character has terrified movie audiences in the Halloween movies for decades. Running around, silently taking lives, he reminds us of another character with a white face, dark clothing, and a sharp implement. Who wore it better? Michael Myers....



....or The Grim Reaper?



Freddy Krueger

Stalking sleepers in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy Krueger taps into a primal fear, deep within the subconscious. His badly burned face invokes thoughts of fire, and the red in his sweater amplifies an archetypal awareness of evil. Who wore it better? Freddy Krueger.....



...or Satan?

Hannibal Lecter

Charming, eloquent, and eerily seductive with a penchant for eating humans (with fava beans and a nice Chianti), this refined character from The Silence of the Lambs is another sophisticated character in disguise. Who wore it better? Hannibal Lecter....



....or Dracula?


As you can see, there are wonderful ways that horror writers can make the old new again!


Can you think of any other characters that might be reworked tropes?




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