Brainstorming last night, scribbling things down for concepts to see if I can scratch this itch I have to try something on the longer-form fiction side. Previously, I’d decided that I needed to stop attempting to write novels and novellas — thinking I probably didn’t have the talent for it after years of dissatisfaction with my own earlier attempts. But I have a bug nibbling on my arse again about the matter and the best way to smack that bug into oblivion is probably to brainstorm to the point where I throw my arms up in the air and declare that I am unable to make those ideas work in a way that I can overcome this self-loathing of what I write as fiction. I mean, I have liked a few pieces of shorter fiction (flash, micro, and standard short stories), but the novels I’ve attempted are not something I would wish on my worst enemy trapped in my personal torture chamber — some tortures go too far.
But there is a devil sitting on my shoulder, whispering indoctrination in my head, suggesting that maybe this time I can succeed at doing something not barf-worthy.
My problem in recent years is I kind of abhor the standard tropes people tend to write about. I’m not against those tropes (in general), but I do feel the need to strive to make something a little outside the standard molds and accepted formats.
For instance, I strongly feel that there can be a conflict without shoving people into good/evil boxes — people should be able to have their own very good motives for their actions without being labelled as the “bad guy” on one side or another. In fact, both parties in the conflict might be trying to do their damned best for folks and just happen to disagree how to go about it, or what the “best” even might be. I hate the evil overlord, impending apocalypse/doom, saving the princess schemes (for my own writing). The problem is — they are so prevalent in their myriad shapes that we sometimes don’t realize those are the core ideas in the stories we write or consume.
I also dislike “magic without consequence” and “magic is commonplace” tropes. In my mind, magic should be neither of those things. In fact, I’d like to remove magic almost entirely from the ideas I have in mind for stories. The problem is, magic is a great way to bend the rules of the universe and gives you a great hand-waving tool. And I like to write about monsters and the occult — both of which are very magic-friendly topics, perhaps utterly dependent upon the presence of magic. And monsters ooze good/evil connotations, which can be avoided, but often seem easier to write with the inclusion of alignments. And I’m no technobabble jockey, so hard scifi seems a bad way of approaching the magic problem.
So I got, as I usually do, frustrated last night with all of the concepts. Too good/evil. Too magical. Too filled with standard, commonplace tropes. Too boring.
I’ll have to look the scratches I made on paper later today, but I think I’m still without good ideas.