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Entries in Assaudian War (1)

Saturday
Jul022011

Questions For All: Cliched Plotlines

     There are positives and negatives to this topic.  After all, chiched plotlines are what both drive us to read our favorite topics and what could potentially deter us from picking up a new author or delving into a new genre.  So here are two questions for all:

    What is your favorite cliched plotline?  What is your most despised cliched plotline?  (There is a reason why I don't say 'least favorite' here because that would still imply that you still like it.  I say 'most despised' because I want to know what cliched plotline, upon encountering it, makes you throw the book across the room or immediately turn the channel on the TV with such disgust that you then want to wash your brain out with Clorox bleach.)

      My favorite is the psychotic character.  I know that's not a plotline, but I don't really care how the psycho got into the story as long as he'she is there.  It's also a little more particular than just the general "babbling nonsense" kind of psycho character who wanders aimlessly and who the main character encounters for a brief moment, interprets his/her words or tries to, and then moves on.  This type of psychotic character has to have more of a stronghold on the story.  (From here on I'm going to say "they" and such because I get annoyed typing he/she all the time...I know it's "grammatically incorrect", but...well...deal.)  THEY (mwahahah) can be the main character (preferred, but not common) or a supporting/secondary character.  They can have a tragic backstory that has led to their going/being crazy in the story (preferred), or they can just have been born that way (much less common, and far more difficult to write).  All I'm looking for is that the character is clinically crazy.  If they have a definable disorder that I can recognize...awesome.  If they are a sociopath...fantastic.  Auditory and visual hallucinations?  Even better.  They just need to be there in their craziness.  If their psychosis is part of the story I am in my glory reading/watching the tale (see Batman, Dexter, American Psycho, Natural Born Killers to name some well knowns).  If it's a side factor, great.  I'm still game.  Many of my friends have often recommended books to me solely using the phrase "The main character is crazy" or something similar and I've snatched it up.   

    For those of you that have read further into the Assaudian War series, or who have read my fantasy novel Kraysh, my favorite cliche may sound a little familiar.  For those of you that haven't and enjoy this sort of plotline, these two series are just for you.  They are massively different, of course.  The Assaudian War is written from Caroline's perspective, the young abused noble with corrupted magic.  She struggles with this magic to keep it from infecting her mind and, she believes, turning her into Zurigan the Animal Assaud.  Kraysh, however, was a novel I wrote in response to Lord of the Rings.  I'd wondered to myself, "What would it be like for me to write a novel from the evil character's point of view?  But not an evil character that had any trauma, or abuse, or anything like that to have made it evil.  Just a character who is evil for evil's sake, and a character who can't be redeemed or turned good."  Thus was born the psychotic and inheritantly evil creature Kraysh, and a world that I had the most fun creating so far.

     Now, the psychotic crazy that I enjoy writing is not one of nonsense.  It's resembles nothing of Alice in Wonderland or even Richard Adams' Watership Down (Fiver) and The Plague Dogs (Snitter) though those are two of my favorites concerning the crazy secondary character types.  My psychotic characters, or as I often put it, my characters that are "a bit off", are coherent (most of the time) and rational (often too much).  The basis of my "a bit off-ness" comes wrapped in studies of dissociative disorders (related to multiple personality disorder though none of my characters suffers directly from that), sociopathy, schizophrenia, migraines (not in any way related to psychosis although it can feel like you are losing your mind or suffering a stroke while experiencing one...and Caroline does begin to suffer these because of her tainted magic in The Vein to Gainsay), anti-social disorders, addiction, and sado-masochistic relationships. 

      The most damaged characters make for the most interesting characters, especially if they are trying to hide it.  They may not ALL be crazy, but many come damn near close.  Caroline is "a bit off" from the start and progresses in very interesting ways because of the tainted magic that she can't get rid of.  Kraysh would never admit that she's a sociopath because she can't be anything else.  The rest of them, well, they speak for themselves. 

       

  Onto the second question: my most despised cliched plotline.  Easy.  Rescue the wimpy ass secondary female character.  Seriously?  Are we still doing this?  Come on people!  It's 2011 and you still can't think of a better plotline?  Wow.  The new twists nowadays are that she starts out as a strong character like a modern day woman, but she still needs to be rescued.  Even if she started out strong, the fact that she has to be rescued in the end makes her a lame character to me because of this cliche.  I can't help my prejudice.  They even put this cliche on top of other plotlines just to have it there.  I don't understand why this plotline is predominant among the male hero stories.  I just don't get it.  Maybe it's a guy thing.

     Ok.  So I gave my favorite and most despised.  Now I want to hear yours.