Friday, March 1, 2019

Following Stereotypes

When it comes to genre writing, there are common plot lines that a specific genre will follow. For example:

Star Wars: Reluctant hero, good vs evil, good prevails while suffering and overcoming adversity. 

In almost any fantasy or sci-fi story you're going to have a reluctant hero. My question is, should you? Will your story sell better if it follows the common plot line? 

I've been going through an injury on my back and it's given me a lot of time to watch old sci-fi shows, Star Trek being the main one. I noticed a lot of overlap between some of the aliens that were introduced, having seen similar aliens in Stargate. 

Dax, a Trill from Star Trek
Apophis, a Goa'uld from Stargate

This connection got me thinking about how similar these aliens were, even though they were from different shows and had some differences. How many times does this happen? And as a writer do I want to pull an idea from something else and just tweak it a little? 

Sticking With the Norm

After dwelling on these things for a few days, I've decided there are both pros and cons to sticking with the common plotline found in sci-fi stories. For one, your audience will understand where the story will be going, and a lot of readers will find comfort in this. 

I don't think there is anything wrong with having a reluctant hero, or good vs evil in your story. These are classic characters and plots that have stood the test of time. There are also many ways to mold the story as your own while following the common plotline.

Deviating From the Norm

What's the first story that comes to mind that bent the rules of the common plotline? For me, it's the Song of Ice and Fire series by George. R. R. Martin. You become drawn to the typical fantasy story, only to be thrown by having some major characters die. 

Some could see this as a big risk since people become so used to stories following the common plotline. Changing it up may have been risky, but in this instance, it worked, and it worked well. 

In the end, it all comes down to what you as the writer feels what is best for your story. This story has lived inside your mind for who knows how long, just waiting to jump to the page. 

As writers, it's our job to shape and tell the stories inside us with as much care as one would give a child. Each scene should have a reason for being there, crucial for moving the story forward. Use your discernment as you write and you won't go wrong.