Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tropes and Cliches in (my) Writing.

Tonight was a pretty good night for writing.  I had a good two hours of dedicated writing time, headsets on, music playing.  Too bad most of it will have to be cut up and rewritten tomorrow.

You see, for the chapter I'm working on currently I only had one short sentence in my outline.  It didn't exist in the last draft, but it's very much needed in this one.  That's right, it's one of THOSE bits.  The between-the-action-character-relationship-building bits, which I apparently don't outline that well.  So rather than spend most of my limited time this evening outlining it, I figured I'd take a stab at pantsing it.

When I work from an outline I tend to do a fair bit of research and digging to make sure I'm not getting so wrapped up in layered tropes of a particular genre or stereotyping.  When I'm discovery writing I just let it flow and worry about it afterwards.  

Well, after an hour and a half I took a quick break, then came back and re-read what I'd written.  The voice is fantastic, there's a bit of humour in there that clicks with the character.  However, it follows a fairly typical trope and has strong potential to run itself in a direction destined for a good deal more.

Tropes are not bad per-se, some are quite enjoyable, but as a new and aspiring writer I'm trying desperately to avoid them.  Otherwise I'll use them as crutches to cheat my way to the end of my book, which would somewhat defeat the purpose since this first book is meant primarily to be a learning experience.  (That's not to say that if I'm happy with it I won't try to solicit it to agents etc.)

So tomorrow it gets surgery.  I'm going to hammer out an outline for the chapter that's more detailed than the one line I've got.  Hopefully I can preserve some of the tone and lose some of the "we've been here before and this should happen next" essence.  That's not to say that more experienced and better hands at writing can't pull off exactly that sort of trope and get away with it, making it feel fresh and funny and new.  I just don't think I'm anywhere near there yet.

That said, I think I'll snip it out and put it in a side document to look over later, to analyze how I got there and why the funny worked.  

Every word I write and every word I delete should teach me something.

- Grimm

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