Monday, March 4, 2013

Fiction Tropes

I am back with another blog chain post and this time around - I am choosing the topic. Sometimes it is difficult to come up with these topics, but luckily, I was inspired by a recent series of posts that Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books did on the Kirkus blog. 

As a reader and/or a writer what are some of your favorite fiction tropes? Are you sucker for secretly in love with best friend type stories, stories set in mysterious boarding school stories, stories that contain time travel, or something else entirely? As a writer how do you try to give the tropes you tackle in your own books a fresh spin?

There are several different tropes that get an insant "oooohhh" reaction from me. 

1. Girl Disguised as Boy Stories

I have some serious love for this trope that goes all the way back to the late eighties when I watched a TV show with my dad about the pony express called The Young Riders. My favorite part of this show was - as you may have guessed - one of the riders who was actually a girl disguised as a boy. 

Most recently my favorite use of this trope was in Disney's Mulan. I've read a few romances that have used this trope, but I would really love to read more! Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.

I would also love to write a story utilizing this trope, but I haven't yet found the right one for it. Someday, though. Someday.

2.  Riches to Rags

I love a story where the main character goes from a life of luxury and uselessness to getting thrown into circumstances where they have to work hard and - as a result of this - grow as a character. 

Overboard (an amazing 80s movie with Goldie Hawn) is a perfect example of this trope. Another is Susan Elizabeth Phillip's Fancy Pants

I also enjoy the flipside of this - rags to riches - if it is done well. One recent wonderful example was another romance novel: Meredith Duran's A Lady's Lesson in Scandal. 

I actually have the beginnings of a romance novel that I wrote several years ago and keep meaning to come back to, that uses the riches to rags tropes with a Paris Hilton type character. 

3. Retellings

I missed the last blog chain when everyone discussed re-imagining classic stories, so this is also my chance to play a little catch up. 

Retellings are perhaps not exactly a trope, but maybe more of a genre. Or something. I don't really know, but for the sake of this blog post I am calling them a trope. And I am saying it's a trope that I have been loving lately.

In the last few months I've read Marissa Meyer's Cinder and Jodi Lynn Anderson's Tiger Lily, both of which blew me away. In Cinder I loved how the science fiction, futuristic story was so very different from the medieval story we grew up with and yet managed to retain all the key pieces of story to keep it feeling familiar. And Tiger Lily was just one of the best books I've read in a long time. It didn't update the Peter Pan story so much as show it from a totally different perspective and... I honestly can't do it justice with my lame descriptions, so my advice would be to just read it for yourselves.

I haven't yet tackled a retelling, but in ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE I sprinkled in bits of Pinocchio and in my next novel I worked in a bit of the Pied Piper.

4. Survival

When I was in my middle school years my older sister bought a book that I very quickly read, fell in love with, and claimed as my own. I re-read it several times before my sister sold it out from under me at a family garage sale. I am still kind of mad at her about that, because I cannot for the life of me remember the title of that book and I would love to hunt it down and reread it. But anyway, the book was about a sort of spoiled girl (see #2) who goes on a water rafting trip and clashes with one of the boys in charge, but then they fall in love when they get in an accident and have to survive for a few days in a cave together.

The survival trope, much like #1 and #2, is usually a fish out of water type story where a character is thrown into a situation that is totally not what they are used to or prepared for.

Some awesome examples of this trope can be found in Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It series and the blog chain's newest member - Demitria Lunetta's debut In The After

Both of these books make you wonder, "How would I survive in a post-apocalyptic world?"

This is another trope that I would love to play with in my own writing, but have not yet found the right opportunity to try it out.

Okay. So those are my favorite tropes. Keep following the chain to hear what everyone else has to say - starting with Sandra tomorrow.