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Showing posts from July, 2021

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland and The Dark Lord of Derkholm - #FridayReads #WeekendReads

Click to enlarge Pages 50-51 of The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (OMT stands for "Official Management Term")   We’ve covered the use of tropes in fiction this month, so it’s apt to end July with a review of the ultimate in tropic tongue-in-cheek fantasy fun. Diana Wynne Jones wrote The Tough Guide to Fantasyland in 1996, and followed it up with The Dark Lord of Derkholm in 1998, and its sequel, The Year of the Griffin , published in 2000. Derkholm and The Tough Guide go hand-in-hand, although they can be read as standalones without spoilers. The Tough Guide is a dictionary of fantasy tropes, written as though the reader is on a tour of a theme-park-style world – an alphabetical list of what to expect. The Dark Lord of Derkholm is that tour, from the point of view of the world’s “Dark Lord”. With a twist. The people and resources of “Fantasyland” have been exploited for generations by Mr Chesney, the owner of a specialist tour company that runs adventure holidays in the

Ask Yourself One Question

Others have started their posts this month on tropes with the definition. I shall be no different. A literary trope : the use of figurative language, via word, phrase, or an image, for artistic effect such as using a figure of speech. The word trope has also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs, or clichés in creative works. How does a writer avoid hackneyed plot tropes? The hard-drinking cop/detective who can’t forget his mistake that cost a life. The single woman who goes back to her hometown to either care for an ailing relative, attend a class reunion/funeral, or for a hundred other reasons, and reconnects with the hometown love of her life who dumped her. The serial killer who kidnaps women and how the latest victim does him in or the persistent detective finds him before he kills her. The female cop trying to prove herself in the face of misogynist male cops who typecast her as a lightweight. We know there’s nothing new.

Do I Need to Understand Tropes to Write a Cozy Mystery?

I wish I knew the answer to that question. Maybe by the time I finish my homework, I'll get it. As a writer who understands rules, guidelines, and beats, I’m never happy when writers and editors come up with new words to describe old concepts. I ignore. I resist. I pretend it’s not happening. Yes, I do the same thing in life when linguists, academicians, and activists try to alter the language I’m accustomed to. I guess that makes me old-fashioned, stuck in the past, or maybe just plain old. Regardless of my excuse, I can no longer stick to my guns when it comes to the word “trope.” Haha, my Word editor just typed “tripe.”  I’m currently writing a cozy mystery, mindful of the cozy rules: no on-the-page violence, no despicable language, and no graphic sex. Pixabay     Now must I understand what tropes are to avoid stereotypes in setting, characters, and plot? If I want to write a series, do I have to learn the difference between novel tropes and series tropes? Geesh. So be it. I’m

Flipping Fantasy Tropes

I read a lot of Fantasy. I love the rich worldbuilding. I love magic. I love fantastical creatures. The ultimate pleasure is disappearing into a rich, enchanting, new world with memorable characters. We are tackling tropes on the Blood Red Pencil this month, so I wanted to touch on a few troublesome, perhaps trite, Fantasy tropes and suggest ways to change them. 1. The Chosen One In a sense, the Protagonist is always the "chosen one." The protagonist is the character who ultimately solves the overall story problem. That said, they don't literally have to be "chosen" or "destined." They may just have the right skills, knowledge, or determination to win the day. I liked the character Kaz Brekker in Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows because he wasn't a "chosen one." She left that up to Alina in the Shadow and Bone series. Kaz was motivated to overcome adversity because of a rough childhood. He wasn't "perfect" or infallible. H

Here a Trope, There a Trope, Everywhere a Trope Trope

First, if you're not familiar with what exactly a literary trope is, here is a definition I found online: A literary trope is the use of figurative language for artistic effect, such as using a figure of speech. The word trope has also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works. There's a lot more to literary tropes beyond the fact that a cape is a sign of a superhero and a black hat is a sign of an outlaw, and using tropes in a story is not a sign of weak writing. Quite the contrary. A well used trope, like any other literary device, can enhance a story. One just has to be careful about using ones that are so common they've become clichés. One that comes to mind is how some of the bad guys are depicted in crime fiction - the muscle to protect the top gangster are so often portrayed as dumb and illiterate. Not that I think a Rhodes Scholar would take up such a job, but I get tired of the ones who do

Self-Publishing Options Part Four

 We conclude our exploration of self-publishing platforms. 13.   Smashwords offers ebooks only. Cost : You can upload files for free. Free ebook conversion to multiple formats from a Word.doc. Unlimited anytime-updates to books and metadata Rights : You retain all rights. They offer a free ISBN or you can use your own.  Distribution : Smashwords Store as well as global retail distribution to Apple Books (51 countries), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Walmart (via Kobo), OverDrive (reach 20,000+ public libraries), Gardners (reach hundreds of small ebook stores and 2,000+ public and academic libraries), Scribd, Libri (powers Germany's largest ebook stores), Baker & Taylor,  Odilo (2,100+ libraries in North America, South America and Europe), Bibliotheca CloudLibrary (3,000+ public libraries in the US, Canada, U.K. and Australia), and Enki by Califa (supplies over 100 California libraries; acquires a subset of Smashwords titles). Services : Audiobook production and distribution via the

The Golden Years of Writing…

…Or perhaps the title should be Writing in the Golden Years. After reading this article, please tell me which title you think better fits this post. In the past I have mentioned that the golden years are more often fool's gold than a precious and coveted ore. While both can function as standalones, they frequently appear as a mix of the two — good days and bad days. Since we have been featuring lists in our recent posts, let's list a few ways silver-haired writers have changed (or not) in their golden years. 1. Inspiration:  As younger writers, we often overflowed with a plethora of story ideas. Sometimes, however, life got so busy we couldn't sit down at the typewriter (or word processor or computer) or pick up pen and paper to jot down those wonderful thoughts. Busyness often dictated our schedules, pulling us back to reality. Children have the unique ability to distract even the most focused of parents. Jobs demand a huge chunk of our waking hours. Domestic chores create