National Novel Writing Month is a nonprofit organization that hosts an annual writing challenge in the month of November (#NaNoWriMo....don't ask me, I didn't make up the acronym). The goal is to have more people write in general: if you write 50,000 words in the month of November, you're a NaNoWriMo "winner" that gets bragging rights.
In the Writing Community, NaNoWriMo is a big thing that everyone has opinions about - some people love it, some people hate it. I personally had never done NaNoWriMo before, despite spending a lot of my spare time, well, writing. This year, I've been spending even more time than normal writing since my first book comes out next month, but I'm also a glutton for punishment.
I don't write young adult books (yet!), but the above bingo board made me laugh because of the hints of truth which shine through. These common patterns in media (movies, TV shows, books, etc.) are known as tropes, and are more commonly known as cliches. Looking at the bingo board above, I can think of half a dozen YA books which check off several of these boxes (Twilight, anyone?).
However, despite the constant advice writers get to avoid tropes, they can be useful. For the reader, tropes help us figure out what types of books we like and dislike. For example, maybe you're not looking for a book like Game of Thrones, where everybody is both good and evil, you prefer the more traditional battle of the Big Bad and the Ultimate Good. That's not a bad thing at all, it just means the author has to be creative about finding a way to deliver the trope where readers are still interested, and can't simply predict the outcome of the book twenty pages in.
There are dozens of excellent articles outlining tropes in fantasy (one of my favorites is here). This is not that kind of blog post. Instead, my goal is to share some strategies to using tropes effectively in your writing, to keep the reader guessing.
I think we can all agree that the above meme captures 2020 perfectly. It's been a heck of a way to start the next decade, and it feels as though we have all lived about eight lifetimes since January. And there's still a month and a half to go. But that's not what this post is about.
Nope, this isn't another doom and gloom "what could possibly happen next" analysis. Let's all agree that we have no idea what's coming next. Maybe something great, possibly something terrible, probably some combination of both. Instead, this post is about one of my biggest coping strategies: writing.
Bridget is the author of Summer Twilight, available for purchase now!