New years, nightsticks, and tropes

New years have never been a big thing for me. Time rolls on, and January 1st isn’t much different from December 31st. There was a funny moment where my housemate, having made other plans, discovered that, instead of spending New Year’s Eve with my family, I would be staying home, as I was sick. She felt bad, at first, saddened by the thought of me ringing in the New Year all alone.

I nearly laughed. Then I proceeded to explain that it was not nearly as sad as she feared. In fact, being sick, I had spent about a week not sleeping well, and I was hopeful that I would be able to get a decent night’s worth. I had a supper of wonderful Korean dumpling soup (forget chicken noodle) and went to bed at 8PM. I slept like a ten-ton boulder. It was wonderful!

I don’t know what it is about New Years Eve that fails to thrill me. I guess I get my fireworks fix on the 4th of July, I’m not much of a drinker, I don’t like champagne… maybe it is because my family never made much of it?

Or maybe it is that I am a cynic when it comes to “fresh starts.” I shouldn’t be, I know that landmarks help some people. But I can make a landmark any time I please. I can say “enough, I am changing this part of my life right now,” and the start of a new year, or the end of an old one, doesn’t seem to make a difference for me.

But something has been building over the Christmas season, for me, and it spilled out on the first day of 2015. It’s still going. That thing is inspiration. My muse has sunken it’s wicked, pointy teeth deep into my arm and shows no sign, at present, of letting go.

Ah, the double-edged sword of inspiration. It is a great feeling, it gets my sluggish work moving. But it also leaves me raw and open to those voices that plague most writers, the whispers of “your work is crap.”

So far, they are just whispers. I shut them out. Eventually, they will be shouts, and I will have to struggle through this, again. But until that time, manuscript-ho!

As sometimes happens, regardless of the state of my muse, I’ve been digging into TVtropes.org in search of answers to questions about the tropes contained within my own work. I like to be aware of such things, and to keep them in mind as I write. In digging, I have discovered something… interesting.

Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing is up for debate.

If you have spent any time on TVtropes, you know that tropes are ubiquitous. They are all around you, all the time, and not just in fiction. Chances are, you, yourself, embody some tropes, or are at least touched by them. In a round about way, this is why tropes exist in the first place.

I keep searching for the “main” tropes for my main characters. You know, their main defining characteristic? Their archetype? I find, instead, tropes that touch them, but constantly miss the mark. Either this means that I have done a good job in creating well-rounded characters, or that I have, instead, created characters that are so off the beaten path that, for most people, they aren’t relateable. …yes, for any non-writers reading, this is the sort of idiocy that keeps writers up at night.

I know there are a lot of characters out there who defy/subvert/invert/play with tropes. I’m not suggesting that I am creating anything ground-breaking, here. I am more interested in figuring out why, even before I had a good understanding of tropes, I created a cast of characters who largely defy them. Does it have to do with my hatred of firm categories? Or my need to defy expectations? Quite probably… but often, those things create tropes of their own. I will continue to ponder.

Also, on a sort of side-note, I recently found an answer to a question that came up two years ago in my writing. One of my characters picked up a nightstick as a favored weapon. He still hasn’t put it down, but I now know where, in the tortuous caverns of my subconscious, he found the thing. I recently re-watched Terminator I and II with my brother. It turns out that in the latter, one Sarah Connor, picks up a nightstick and runs with it. The image of her gripping the side-handle, the weapon tucked, at the ready, against her arm, was like a light-bulb going off in my brain. I don’t know about you other writers out there, but I absolutely love it when I discover these connections.

Enough pointless rambling and crazy linkage. I would love to hear what any of you think about your own writing processes and how you analyze (or if you even analyze) your characters and plot.

May 2015 be a good year, for all of us.

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About jubilare

Just another tree in the proverbial forest. Look! I have leaves! View all posts by jubilare

17 responses to “New years, nightsticks, and tropes

  • Mary

    Hooray for a fellow indifference to new years! Once I got old enough to stay up past my midnight any day I chose, celebrating the New Year just lost what little appeal it had had. And as to celebrating the passing of time or looking forward to making a fresh start, well, for me, my birthday has always held more weight in that matter.

    I have to admit that you are far more introspective when it comes to writing than I am. Granted you are without a doubt much further along in the development of your story/stories than I am but I tend to not think too much about this. I try to write by two main guidelines: Write what you know and write the stories you want to read. So if my characters end up fitting neatly into tropes, I don’t think it will bother me that much as long as I’ve created characters I like (or at least am satisfied with).

    Or maybe this is just proof that I’m fit for nothing better than writing the same essential story just repackaged with minor changes to details like so many blockbuster/series authors seem to do. (I kid, I kid!…I hope…)

    • jubilare

      Same here. A birthday is a more tangible landmark, anyhow. Plus, cake. ^_^

      Meh, I started off writing strictly on the “story I want to read” front, to the point where I never expected to let anyone read it except me. Now that I’m actually willing to let people read the insanity, and I consider the possibility of eventual publication, I think about the implications of what I’m writing a bit more. After all, heaven forbid I accidentally give the world another Twilight.

      It’s important to note, though, that tropes are not bad things, at all! Tropes are great, I use them all the time. The trick is to use them well, which some people do without even realizing it. To be safe, though, I always assume the gun is loaded. This is why I’m not sure if my untropey characters are actually better or worse for their lack of tropes. Time will tell, I suppose.

      Hey, there’s nothin’ new under the sun, right? Every story has been told, one way or another. We’re all just telling them over again. If you ever want a beta-reader, I’d love to read your stuff! Also, if you’re interested and don’t mind reading WIPs, I’ll let you prod some of my scribbles.

  • Colleen

    Let’s get well and read/write/edit together.

  • Deborah Makarios

    Your muse has sharp pointy teeth and a double-edged sword? Lumme!
    I celebrated the New Year by going to bed early, waking up and grumping at the fireworks and then going straight back to sleep again :-)

  • Krysta

    Finally someone who understands how I feel about New Year’s Day! I could never get that excited about it because I make new resolutions all the time and, once I had to stay up past midnight for school or work, being up late lost its charm. In fact, if I have the luck to have off New Year’s Eve, I am somewhat tempted to go to bed early, though I never have. I don’t want to have to admit to people that I am that person–the one who slept through the new year.

    • jubilare

      Well, now you know that there’s at least one person, other than you, who is quite happy to sleep the New Year in. And, really, what better way to start a new year than well-rested? ^_^

  • Terpsichore

    a) Korean dumpling soup sounds FABULOUS. Especially given the way I keep getting better…until I have to go outside and promptly start coughing phlegmily again.

    b) Yaaaaaay hooray for inspiration!! As you noticed, it’s been months since I’ve had much inclination or any ideas writing-wise, so I’m hoping the new fountain keeps welling up in both of us!

    • jubilare

      Oh, it is! Wonderful stuff. I hope you and I both get better soon. I’ve now got a lovely wheezing cough that’s driving me nuts. :P

      Indeed! I’m thrilled to see you! And so far the demon whisperers trying to tear my motivation to shreds haven’t quite succeeded. ;)

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