Limyaael's Rants, A Link/Writer's Resource

http://www.forresterlabs.com/limyaael/titlelistall


Focused primarily on fantasy and science fiction books, this blog raises overused tropes & themes that plague the genres, explaining what the issues with them are. They are alphabetically listed behind the above link.


I have to admit, some of it's hard to read, not because it's poorly written or poorly explained, but because I know I've stumbled on more than a few of those points myself.


It's also tough because it leaves one feeling like there's few options left once you've excised all these horrible pitfalls and possible writer's traps.


But it's a valuable read, I have to say, and is making me think a little more outside the box for my next work.


My #3 rule of thumb is "there is no such thing as an overused trope."


A trope is either executed poorly--that is to say, it is used instead of providing meat to the story, instead of being used as a way to do so--or the reader just doesn't like those kinds of stories. I mean, once upon a time Captain America--that is to say, the "genuinely good" good guy--was considered an overused cliche. These days you rarely see it in comic books.


So while I love reading TVTropes (because it's a brilliant site that simply discusses tropes and places no innate value on them) I pretty ignore what anyone has to say when they evaluate them.


(Before you decide this is good advice, keep in mind that my #1 rule of thumb is "there is no right way to write well, and if someone tells you otherwise they're probably trying to sell a book" #2 is "telling is just as important as showing," and #4 is "sometimes you need to use passive voice." These are not popular ideas.)


Fair enough. Poor phrasing on my part.


That said, there's stuff that keeps recurring in fantasy/sci fi/any fiction that doesn't do the genre or the work in question much good. This is the stuff that is addressed in Limyaael's posts. S/he raises the issues, how it can be done well, how it's often done poorly, and often names ways to fix it or alternative ways to go in a story.


My first instinct, interestingly, is to ask "fix it so that it pleases whom?" Because I have found that often times when people find something wrong with a piece of art, it's got more to do with personal taste than with the art itself. Some "fixes" are just a way to wreck things.


Not to say that you can't use information like that to do something brilliant and unexpected--right now, since as Uber points out an overused trope forty years ago might be completely new and interesting again today--but I am a skeptic at heart about such things. >.<


My, someone has a lot of chips on their shoulder. Sounds like s/he's ready to move onto another genre of fiction, either that or they're enjoying the attention from being such a grouch. I dunno, Wildbow, even if you DID do a handful of these supposed cliches, they're probably really fun to read because you're a good writer.


A lot of people seem to enjoy the attention that snark gets them. I have never understood it. Why would you want to become known for being the kind of person that rips things down? Destroying is easy. Making is hard.


If tropes bother you, write your own stories that break them. I think it was Cicero who said "I criticize by creation, not by finding fault." And you know you can trust a Roman. ^.^


Well OK, I actually went there and read a few articles, and I'll have to admit that 1) it's not particularly ranty, despite the title, and 2) there's some decent advice there.


I guess it's called "rants" because the author is specifically talking about things (s)he really hates reading, but (s)he focuses more on why she thinks it's a problem and how it could be fixed than (s)he does on how much (s)he really hates it. And I found myself admitting as I read through the articles I read that (s)he made a fair point most of the time.


Even when (s)he is ranting about a specific overused writing widget (s)he usually acknowledges that it can be done well, but points out that it usually isn't... and I guess that's fair. Anyway, I'll have to agree with Wildbow now, because I think there's a lot of decent advice in there and I'm going to have to devote some time to reading it.


So thanks Wildbow, because that's actually a pretty good resource in spite of my bias against people who want to tell me the "right" way to write anything. Also, since this will be eating into my writing time, I CURSE YOU. ;-)


I have this list saved in my favourites, read through them all a couple of years back. She makes some good points about what I'd consider actual 'bad' tropes - ie treating horses like robots that never get tired and don't need to eat or drink, which is simple laziness on a writer's part. I found her rants/articles on magic very useful as well. She does offer advice and suggestions while she's complaining about stuff, and she mentions several stories she's written herself that avoid or subvert some of those annoying cliches.