It’s quite amazing how much time people spend talking – or more often, bitching – about the weather. It’s too hot, too cold, too wet, too miserable, or you’re stuck inside when it’s absolutely beautiful out.
Posts by Kate Paulk
So you get an idea for a new story. It’s bright and shiny and it comes with interesting characters and a plot that might not be all the way there yet but it’s close and you can feel how good it can be. So you start writing.
Then it happens. Your characters twist and your plot turns into something Rube Goldberg would worship and you don’t exactly know what happens but instead of a nice, enjoyable story you’ve got an overworked mess.
One of the more interesting things that’s happened over the last 40 years or so (I can’t reliably go back far beyond that, what with not really taking notice of these things before I was about 10) is the way SF and Fantasy memes have crept into the mainstream.
Classic Star Trek episodes have been rerun so many times that an awful lot of people who were too young to see them the first (or second, or third) time around still recognize them, and know what it means to be a red shirt. The first set of Star Wars movies have also been rerun endlessly – and of course video rentals followed by Netflix and Amazon on demand mean anyone can watch them any time, so much so that “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” practically telegraphs that all heck is about to break lose.
It’s actually not all that common to have the Evil Tyrant take over the land and impose crushing new rules that the Hero and friends spend the book trying to overthrow. No, more commonly the Evil Tyrant replaces the previous Evil Tyrant (meet the new boss, just like the old boss) and changes who’s on the enemies list and the beleaguered subjects do the same as they’ve been doing forever and get on with life in general.
And bruised souls from the compromises that are necessary to get by when living in an abusive regime.
As anyone who has read Dave’s blog posts knows, the ordinary can be made extraordinary with the right touch. I treasure his descriptions of nights finding things one would prefer not to discover with bare feet and other such joys of life – and I have made my own share of these nocturnal findings, what with two cats who have the usual feline stomach and hairball issues at times.
In the favored genres here, particularly with our tendency to prefer the more old-fashioned kind of SF and Fantasy (where men were real men, women were real women, and little green men from Mars were real little green men from Mars… You know the drill), the non-villainous side of the cast list has a tendency to get a little bit larger than life.
There’s this creeping tendency to gift the hero… protagonist with extra powers, extra smarts, extra good looks and the like. There’s a definite trend towards extra muscularity in the males and gravity-defying firmness of the front-mounted weapon emplacements in the females, too.
One of the flaws in fiction that annoys the living daylights out of me is a badly drawn antagonist – particularly when said antagonist is intended to be evil. The way antagonists get characterized has this interesting tendency to showcase how the author sees life, and when that view doesn’t meet up with the way people act, well… Let’s just say I don’t respond very well.