I don’t think I’ve touched on this topic outside of a casual mention, so I’m going to attempt to go below the surface. Curses show up in a lot of genres even when magic isn’t a main component. Some are real and others are legends that don’t actually work. The key point with a curse is that it triggers a sensation of fear and tension. That is the literary usage of such a thing. I’m going to get more into this on Wednesday with a 7 Tip list.
The reason I began thinking about this is because somebody asked me:
Do you think curses are cliches?
This honest question brings up a good point. Many people tend to point at anything they have seen before as cliche and stale. Evil curses have been around since mythology days if not longer. From punishments by the gods to witch hexes to Egyptian tomb curses, humans have clung to this concept that magic can be used to inflict a negative effect on others. Sometimes it’s a specific target while other times it strikes whoever is unlucky enough to wander into the area. We see them in movies, shows, books, and video games, so I can see how one can see them as cliche. Yet, can we really say that about curses when we take a step back to examine their purpose?
My personal opinion is that curses are more literary device than anything else. They are obstacles that have to be overcome through thinking, luck, and/or magic. You can’t swing your sword or shoot a bullet at a curse to get rid of it. This means you get a variety of ways to remove it. Even more so, you have an unlimited amount of curses to choose from. Yes, some have been overdone such as werewolves, vampires, and amnesia. You can do those with some twists, but they are rather widespread. This doesn’t mean curses in general are cliche. It means you need to be more creative. Maybe a man turns invisible and unable to be heard whenever he gets close to his family, so they think he abandoned them when he’s right there. Could be a curse that bestows a terrible allergy or weakness. The only limit is your imagination.
There is a story down the road that I was going to include curses as a main point. It would be a group of monster hunters who individually ran into a mystery beast that left them with a different curse. They want to find it, kill it, and return to normal. I haven’t done much beyond wanting the main character to switch between male and female through a trigger. Unfortunately, that’s also Ranma 1/2, so I might have to junk it. Unless I can get away with the character being 2 in 1, so it’s actually switching to an entirely different person since they were merged. As you can see, there are a tons of curses that you can come up with, but you need to give many of them twists because the juicier ones have all been taken.
So, what do you think about curses? Have you used any before? Do you think they’re a cliche?