I have a confession to make: I love narrative clichés. Not all of them, of course, but certain well-used plot ideas get me interested every time. Undercover in a gay bar, pretending to be a couple, amnesia, enemies forced to work together – yes! Sign me up!
Sure, these plots have been done many times before. But the same is true of every plot; after thousands of years of fiction being created all over the world, there isn’t a single plot or theme that hasn’t been put through its paces in countless different ways.
The magic is in the details. Originality is in the writing. It’s in the storytelling, the specific set of characters, the way they meet the challenges that confront them, how the author uses familiar themes in fresh ways and plays with existing conventions. I’ve read absolutely amazing, fresh and original books built around a basic premise that sounds tired and worn.
Given my love of narrative clichés, writing “First Contact” was an act of pure self-indulgence. Cops undercover as a couple in a gay bar (okay, a bdsm club run by the mafia – but that’s details)… 😉
Do you love any narrative clichés? Tell me about it!
06/01/2015 at 13:38
The thing that I’ve always loved about slash is that it starts with two guys who consider themselves straight. That whole being-force-to-examine-who-they-really-are thing is really exciting, and the more restrictive the environment (the police force, the mafia), the better I like it. It makes me gleeful. I love enemies working together, too.
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06/01/2015 at 17:39
Yes! I also love it when characters are forced to re-evaluate everything they’ve previously believed to be true about themselves – it can make for a very powerful plot, in emotional terms. It doesn’t necessarily have to be their sexuality that they wrestle with, but that can be extremely effective.
(Something I *don’t* like is characters choosing to avoid changing their self-perception by taking the easy out of “I’m not gay or bi, I just love this one person of my own gender in a sexual way”. It rather ruins the point for me. Not to mention that I just don’t buy it.)
Enemies working together is a related button, really. Being forced to re-examining yourself and someone you always thought of as an opponent, and build an entirely new kind of relationship in and around the old one…
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