Monsters with Easy Clean Up

A lot of TV shows feature monsters with easy clean up. For example in Buffy when the vampires are staked they disappear in a cloud of dust. In Sailor Moon disbanded monsters turn into a cloud of dust that is taken away on the wind. People shot with a phaser in Star Trek often disappear in a flash of orange.

In Sailor Moon, for example, I am sure the tactic is used to keep the violence less in your face. A bloody corpse isn’t going to encourage parents to let their kids watch the show. For the most part though I’m sure it’s a convenience thing. If the enemy disappears it saves a lot of clean up time and explanation.

I never truly appreciated this trope until I was writing my NaNo novel this November. It was the first time I had bodies in the story that the characters had to deal with. In my Murder Mystery the body needs to stick around. Without it the story never gets off the ground. In my YA Portal Fantasy the few bodies are left in an abandoned motel or swept down a river before the characters can do anything about them.

This November my characters killed several demon like creatures and had to deal with the corpses left behind. It was different and exciting to write about handling the first body or two. After that I realized why so many TV shows take the easy (and often dusty) way out.

How do you handle monsters in your stories? Do the corpses stick around or do they turn to dust?


2 thoughts on “Monsters with Easy Clean Up

  1. Katherine Jay January 28, 2016 / 10:01 am

    I know that I sometimes joke about the body count in my stories, but interestingly, I’ve never found myself particularly worried about dealing with the corpses! I think that, in part, it’s because a lot of my stories either start with a body discovery or dealing with the corpse was an integral part of the plot anyway, so it didn’t occur to me that it could be a problem.

    Maybe I need to try writing something about a demon killer (or something like it) who can’t just leave bodies behind. That could be an interesting challenge!


    • NJ Fraser January 28, 2016 / 10:13 am

      This was my first story with bodies that weren’t a major plot point. In this case they had to deal with them since the bodies were from green, bat like, humanoids that everyday people don’t know exist. Plus they were all over a subway platform and through a neighbourhood.

      Liked by 1 person

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