So let’s kick this off right with some Bad Habit Writing and I think the best way to go is with some classic trope talk. In case you’ve forgotten or you never knew, tropes are common literary devices, similar to the idea of archetypes, that are commonalities through out genres, media types, and so on. As with archetypes, tropes aren’t good or bad; they are tools in the creator’s toolbox. How we use them determines their value.
Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s talk about a classic one: Our X Is Like/Not Like Your X!
Today, we finish up (probably) a series of articles and podcasts in relation to my next book, The Songstress Murders, available for pre-order now! Our topic of the moment is exposition, various types of that, and how it relates to genre fiction and world-building!
For the next few weeks, Wednesdays will be focused on the lead-up to the full release of my latest book, The Songstress Murders, which you can pre-order from Amazon at THIS LINK. So, without further ado, let’s get into The World Of The Songstress Murders!
Genre fusion is something that is pretty old-hat by now. It’s like chocolate and peanut butter; mixing the right taste combinations creates something greater than the individual ingredients. It’s at the very core of cooking, be it for food or for new literary cuisine. The Songstress Murders is no different.
But as with most elements of writing, genres and their fusions have to be handled properly. Each genre brings with it certain core elements and genre conventions, as well as certain preconceptions brought to the tale by the reader herself. To write a genre tale well involves understanding these themes and elements, as well as how to both cater to and play with the reader’s expectations. One must balance both embracing the genre and creating a unique and interesting interpretation of said genre. Rehashing the same formula, even if it is a tried-and-true formula, gets tiresome for readers after a while.
We writers often like to examine real life issues through the lens of fiction, as a way of entertaining and educating at the same time. From religion to today’s topic, prejudice and persecution, there are few topics that can’t be examined through the lens of creative writing and other media. To cut to the chase then, this past weekend I saw the movie Zootopia and was struck by how it approached societal issues in such a nuanced and ‘real-feeling’ fashion. It’s something I think we writers can examine to help us approach examinations of prejudice and racism in our own works. So, yeah, SPOILERS AHEAD!
This week’s The World Of … takes a look at The Push Chronicles and how the book series tackles deconstructing and reconstructing the superhero genre. Also, I get in some more (fortunately on-topic!) gripes about Batman v Superman!
We bandy around the phrase ‘strong female protagonist’ (SFP for short) quite a bit. Now, this phrase has a lot of meaning to it and is often taken at literal face value, focusing on physical prowess (literal physical strength in one way or the other) instead of the truer, broader meaning. This isn’t necessarily bad, not at all as long as it is handled well (though I prefer the deeper interpretation of strength myself). I bring this thought of physical strength up, though, because it lets us talk about a pair of character tropes closely connected to that and the overall ‘SFP’ discussion: the Action Girl and the Faux Action Girl.
It’s been a while since we’ve sat back and talked about a writing trope or two. With that in mind, let’s take a casual day today and talk about an interesting bit of trope-y-ness: the Noodle Incident. Sometimes known as the Throwaway Backstory Event, a Noodle Incident (NI for the remainder of this article) is some piece of past history a character in a piece refers to, but never elaborates on, usually with the implication that the event was too ridiculous, unbelievable, or over the top to need to be elaborated on. Whatever the reason for doing so, the NI remains a point of untouched history and, in a long series, may be referenced multiple times.
Last week, we talked about embracing tropes and archetypes, as well as a little bit about how to use them properly. In the further past, we specifically spotlighted reconstruction and deconstruction as means to that end, but there are other ways to make tropes acceptable and endearing to your readers. Get ready for some interior decorating, friends, as we hang some new lampshades on everything!
Life isn’t fair. That’s what we are told most often. Yet, many of us feel deep down in our hearts that there should be some inherent sense of fairness or justice in the universe, some balancing factor to make up the common injustices of human society. In many philosophies and religions, this takes on a more substantial, codified form, such as karma. We writers like to create worlds that are more fair or just than the real world, but every once in a while we come across a character that seems to dodge, duck, and weave the chains of justice and karma. Those would be the Karma Houdinis of the world.