I don’t have HBO, but I’m reading all the reviews about Westworld and they prove an important point. Sci-fi has a love/hate relationship with story tropes. You know what they are, even if you don’t know the word:
Above all, a trope is a convention. It can be a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom… you know it when you see it. Tropes are not inherently disruptive to a story; however, when the trope itself becomes intrusive, distracting the viewer rather than serving as shorthand, it has become a cliché.
The mechanics of storytelling require, nay demand, that we use tropes in sci-fi … if for nothing else, it gives our readers a mental baseline for the universe that we’re building. Good storytellers know how to play with tropes in a way that won’t distract the reader (i.e. “The Princess Bride,” or any Pixar film). Bad storytellers leave us angry enough to steal hubcaps. Continue reading
I’m scared to talk about this. But I need to talk about this. Here goes.
One of the things I want to do with my science fiction is avoid doing what everyone else is doing. That makes sense, right? I can’t call myself creative unless I’m pushing into new territory. The question is, what territory? Where does creativity stop and thoughtfulness begin? These are all the questions I’m thinking about as I work on a new short story.
‘Body Issues’ is a short about a teenage girl and the new social issues coming our way. I don’t want to give away the plot, but the main character is a girl and she’ll be non-white, too. For those of you saying, “So what?” let me say this: Thank you. I think this should be a no-brainer, myself. Given the current landscape of humanity, I’m afraid of negative repercussions. I don’t think it’s right to let that stop me.
Storytelling. That’s the name of the game.
When I started this journey toward a ‘third act’ in my life, one of the things I wanted to do was tell stories again. I love doing it. I missed the creative process and the way a good story connects you with other people. To that end, I’ve been thinking about the kind of stories I want to tell and doing some research. Then I got an ‘a-ha!’ moment when I stumbled on this list of rules that Pixar uses in their stories. These rules can be incredibly valuable for any storyteller, so I’m posting them for you as much as I’m capturing them for myself.
Human beings communicate via stories. For good or evil, storytelling is a very powerful way to share ideas, get your point across, or draw people to your cause. I’m sure you can think of a hundred examples of this, but for me I just turn on the news. All you see now are different people telling stories to explain their politics, their personal feelings or their reasons for whatever they do. Stories are powerful. Therefore, as a storyteller, I must learn to tell good stories. I’m life-hacking my way through this process, and the following 22 rules are a good step in that direction.
Let’s look at them together, shall we? I’m not going to try and break them down for you: like a good story, I think they speak for themselves. If you’re having trouble reading them, just click on them for the big version: