Crystal Dragon Jesus

Recently, I discovered something called TV Tropes, which is an amazing tool for writers. It is essentially a wiki database for all the different elements you find in books, TV, film and other media, covering everything from narrative devices, character archetypes and genre components. All of these concepts are collectively known as “tropes”.

It is so fun just to browse this website, even if you’re not a writer, and enjoy these tropes in all their glory. It seems that every conceivable literary element and device has been given a name. So far, my favourite one is “Crystal Dragon Jesus”, which is when a fictional religion features in the story. Another great one is “Magnificent Bastard”, which refers to super-intelligent and cunning villains (a chess-playing mastermind who always seem three moves ahead).

There is a button at the top of the page that allows you to view these tropes at random, but many entries cross-reference each other and you’ll probably find that your curiosity will get the better of you, especially when the likes of Crystal Dragon Jesus are mentioned so casually in passing! Somewhere on the website, you can also access the periodic table of storytelling, which features some of the most widely-used tropes.

Each entry also includes examples of where these tropes are featured, which is handy for research or if you happen to be searching for a “Weirdness Magnet” or a good example of the “Hand Wave”. Curious, aren’t you?

Whether you’re a writer or just appreciate how stories are put together, then I definitely recommend checking out http://www.tvtropes.org. I, for one, have definitely been converted into a troper! As a writer, it is reassuring to see that you are using tropes that people know and love.. it may daunt some people to know that nothing is original, but everyone uses these tropes in their own unique way. Tropes are the fabric with which stories are woven, forming a common language between writers and their audiences.

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Slow Down And Enjoy Right Now

Many of us get caught up in the race of life, trying to get ahead, forever striving to reach our goals and feeling guilty when we’re not pushing forward. But there is nothing wrong with slowing down and enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

Why do we kill ourselves in the pursuit of success? Why do we insist on flogging our horse when it needs to rest? Why do we buy into the insane expectations that society thrusts upon us?

By all means, reach for the stars, but don’t lose yourself in the process. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,” Albus Dumbledore wisely said. And quite right he is, for there is much joy to be found in the everyday. Yes, you may wish to travel the world or set up a business or learn how to play the guitar, but you may find joy in the little things, such as eating a tasty sandwich or meeting up with an old friend.

This week, I have made the conscious effort to take some time out and recharge my batteries, as I am definitely guilty for pushing myself too hard. But I know I’m not alone with this and so I wanted to remind others to relax and laugh and play.

Don’t spread yourself too thin! Focus your energies on things that really sing to your heart. Do you really need that new iPhone or fast car or a perfect body? Do you really need to do everything on your bucket list? At the end of the day, we are only human and there’s only so much that we can do in one lifetime, so you can’t expect to do it all and see it all. I shall leave you all with a poem I wrote, called A Race Against The Clock, which I think sums up the madness of our go-getter society:

I need to go somewhere,
Do something,
Be someone.
Stay young,
Party hard,
Have fun.

I want to learn a language,
Climb a mountain,
Play the guitar.
See the world,
Get rich,
Drive a fast car.

I want to fit in,
Yet stand out.
Have a relationship,
Yet sleep around.
I want a career,
But I’d like to be free.
I try so hard to be
Cool and trendy.

I want to live abroad,
Start a business,
Keep fit.
Volunteer,
Skydive,
Watch the sun set.

There’s so many things I want to do,
Keeping up with what’s new.
I’d like to have a family one day,
But first I’d just like to play.
A race against the clock,
Tick tock – tick tock…

 

 

Like A Lamb To The Slaughter

Today, I mortally wounded one of my characters, which was difficult for me to do because I have grown quite attached to him. But unfortunately, he was always meant to die… in fact, the whole reason I invented him was so that his death could illustrate an important plot point.

Like a lamb to the slaughter, I nurtured his character precisely because I knew he would be sacrificed. But as the story unfolded, I grew to love his character and found him difficult to let go. He came to life on the page much more vibrantly than I had expected.

I even considered keeping him alive and sacrificing someone else, as it would have been interesting to explore his potential further. But surely the fact that he will sorely be missed is testament to the character I have created? After all, don’t we all have unexplored potential when we die? If he leaves behind a noticeable hole and his absence causes heartache for the reader, then surely that is a job well done writing-wise!

During the writing process, a story can change direction and alter. Characters who were doomed to die can be spared, while others might be bumped off instead. In this particular case, I followed through with my original plan.

 

 

“Fate-Led”

The other day, I came across an amazing sculpture in the Walker Art Gallery. It depicted a young woman, her eyes distant and vague as though she was lost in a trance, with her hand hovering out in front of her. She was beautiful and mysterious and totally captivating. I honestly could’ve stared at her all day (and no, it wasn’t because she was naked!).

There were many statues in that room, but there was just something about this entranced woman that was so enchanting. The description beneath the piece said that it was originally exhibited in 1892 with the following lines:

Fate leading, she must needs go on and on
Blindly, yet fearing not, till the goal be won.

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To me, this spoke absolute volumes. Many of us are led by faith or by a purpose in life and tentatively follow the path set out before us, often wondering if it is the right one. But this woman has such unwavering faith in her destiny and is not afraid, succumbing completely to the higher powers that guide her.

Ideas of faith and “being guided” feature very prominently in my fantasy trilogy, so I was very pleased to see this sculpture. Perhaps there is something that we can all learn from it.