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So at around three in the morning I went on a YouTube and clicked on Tropes Vs. Women because it was three in the morning and that’s the best time to make bad decisions. Reflecting back on my bad decision I figured that the only way wash the stain from my soul was to write a blog post ranting about how bad this series is and how I can’t believe how much money it generated through Kick Starter.


Something like eleventy billion dollars.

For those who are unaware Tropes Vs. Women is a YouTube series recorded by Anita Sarkeesian that aims to declare and decry the use of misogynistic tropes by the film and game industry.

In Sarkeesian’s defense, sometimes… how do I put this kindly, loses it’s shit, and on occasion, just maybe once or twice it has done something racist, or sexist or something that might not be considered entirely ok. However my objection to Mrs Sarkeesian’s argument premise is that Tropes are tools. They can used poorly, offensively, brilliantly or offensively brilliant, but they aren’t inherently bad. So when Sarkeesian states that writers shouldn’t write a character who say, fits the tropes of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG)because it’s offensive, I hit the breaks. For the Short of it a MPDG when played straight is used as a plot device to create exotic change in what is most often a boring male lead character’s life. Sarkeesian’s claim is that the female MPDG character is being objectified so that she becomes just a means to fix the protagonist life instead of having a life for herself.

The small problem that Sarkeesian is going to run into is that a trope is kind of like a stereotype, actually in reference to characters it is more commonly an archetype just like the Squishy Wizard and The Big Guy, and we know that archetypes are base templates. From these templates we build deeper and better characters to create a more interesting and engaging story-line.

Let’s take a look at what makes the MPDG what she is,  The base of this trope is that character is a  female who plays support role and is unusually strange/weird/bubbly/ect…  , but say we take this trope and flip that simple trait and make the character a male.

With one simple gender change I have created Robin williams

Then take the character out of the supporting role that the MPDG usually inhabits and throw them into the lead role.

And with one simple role change I have created a wom… wait a min… this is getting confusing

That’s the basic premise behind Robin William’s character in Mrs. Doubt fire. In fact the entire plot premise is is based around the MPDG trope, with William’s Ex-Wife as the excessively dull individual who needs to be shown that there’s more to life then just work.

How about another well beloved movie were a MPDG is used to purposeful and powerful effect in twisting our emotions in a film. That would be none other then Ellie, from Pixar’s UP. Where in the first fifteen minutes of a movie I felt more concerned about the well being of two characters and was hurt more by a death, then I felt throughout the entirety of the of the… I was going to say twilight but honestly that’s a beaten to death horse. What’s the cool dead horse of today… Oh! That Dawn of Justice movie.

If only we cared about Batman’s mom half as much as Carl cared about Ellie.

The Point I’m trying to hammer in is that there are both Male and Female variants of this Trope that are rich, vibrant and beautiful characters that make everything around them shine a bit brighter, that’s there Job, that’s there purpose narratively, and that’s not a bad thing.

So if this is the case then why does Sarkeesian and her channel have a problem with this traditionally female trope, well it’s quite simple if you watch her video. For all the bluster she’s not actually upset with the trope, she might not even realize she’s not upset with the trope. She’s upset with boring, flat, only there for either the plot or contrite romance characters who are more often then not women whose ambitions in life don’t extend beyond the male lead.


And sometimes Thor

That’s something I can get behind, our female characters need to be real characters with more motivation then “That guys sure looks cute,” and should actually be doing things as opposed to getting stuck in towers just so they can be saved by the cute guy. To be honest this goes both ways, you can’t just flip the formula to escape the poor writing just because you’ve locked a man in a tower this time.

In other articles I’ve written about the things that make characters interesting, competence, charisma, originality and agency not to mention a host of other things that can’t be talked about in a single article. If your Manic Pixy Dream Girl/Boy can’t or won’t hit those notes it’s not because your using a bad trope, it’s because you’ve written a garbage character. The same applies to your Femme Fatale, Action Girl, or Baroness, Big Bad, Big God, and every other character trope you can think of. The Next time you write a character females one in particular, ask yourself if this person has a life that extends beyond the plot of this work, does he/she have goals and ambition and meaning beyond the lead character.

And here you thought you were getting a late night drunken rant on feminism and SJWs and all the other bullshit Internet drama. Well guess what I’m not even drunk, this degree of poor decision making just comes naturally. Instead you get a nice bit a on storytelling elements and craft, and I didn’t even kick start 150,000 dollars.

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Reboot? Reboot… REBOOT!

Posted: September 21, 2016 in Storytelling Elements

Sooo… it’s been a while Since I’ve had an update, I think were counting in years now. In my defense its been a very busy couple of years. New marriage, new baby, four new jobs and well a whole lot more.

New plan though, I’m hoping to start posting again, meaningful content with jokes and insight and all that stuff that people like, at least so I’m told. First Post should be up on Sunday. I Hope I can look forward to hearing from you guys again.

Any of you remember that Brandon Sanderson guy, the man who completed Robert Jordan’s “wheel of Time” as well as being a award winning author in his own right(Also I reviewed his other book last Tuesday). You may also find it interesting that he’s been diving into writing short stories of late.

Which is what we’re talking about today, Brandon Sanderson’s “The Emperor’s Soul”


A book about magical Asians. 

Synopsis

“The Emperor’s Soul” primarily follows the story of  Shai, which is short for something entirely to long for me to care about typing out. The story starts with Shai having been caught and sent to prison for trying to steal ancient relics and replace them with forgeries. The gimmick being that these forgeries aren’t naturally reproduced but instead created with magical seals that rewrite the history of an object turning into something else.

It’s then revealed to Shai that she can be pardoned for her crimes if she can use the same magic that can recreate art to recreate the soul of the Emperor who had recently been attacked and nearly killed by assassins. The catch being that Shai only has 98 days to complete her task before the Emperor is presumed dead and her along with him.

If that seems complicated, it’s because it is. Don’t worry about it to much though Sanderson pulls you into the mess that he’s shoved his characters in rather gently.

Review

One of the things I’m beginning to note about Sanderson is that he’s one of the better character writers out there. His dialogue between his protagonists, his antagonist and the characters that sit in between is some of the best I’ve ever read. Which is incredibly important for this book considering Sanderson locks most of the major characters in the same room together for the majority of the Story.


Who need sweeping landscapes when you can have walls.

Shai and her mentor/antagonist go round and round trying to figure each other out and never truly coming to grips with the other while the other less effective antagonist try to manipulate Shai often to a comical effect as they underestimate Shai who is setting her own logical traps. The book only starts to come up short when it runs it’s action scenes which mess with pacing of the books and feel out of place watching what so far has been a game of chess turn into a game of street fighter.


Ryu to G7, King me!

However to Sanderson’s credit the he builds up to the action scene well and while it’s a major change in the style of the story it’s not something that hits you out of nowhere and is sparsed with some nice dialogues and internal monologues  to break up the action. On top of that Sanderson fills the world with a compelling magic system as well as effective world building which makes all of the story flow easily without pulling you out of the story everytime the concept of foraging a man’s soul comes up.

Bottom Line

The books is fast paced, short and a blast to read, and considering you buy this in E-book format which can be put on your phone or other mobile device you can finish the book in a day easily. In short this short book is good, go buy it.

I’m glad to say that The Archetype is back up and writing with new posts starting up tuesdays and fridays, as well as features every other wednesday. Thanks for everyone who’s paying attention.

This week we’re reviewing a fantasy western about a butler turned god and a lawman turned noble. Also known as Brandon Sanderson’s The Alloy of Law.


Because cowboys and demi-gods didn’t have the same ring.

Synopsis

    The Alloy of law is an off shoot of Sanderson’s Mistborn series and is set about 300 years after Hero of Ages. The Alloy of Law tells the Story of Waxillium Ladrian, better know as Wax. Wax is what is referred to in-universe as Twin Born, meaning that through a combination of superpowers he inherited from his parents genes he can alter his weight and push most metal with his mind. Wax starts the story as a lawman searching for a serial killer and through a singularly unfortunate event turns in his badge and moves to the big city to take over the estate of his deceased relative whom left everything to Wax. The story then goes through his struggle to try and manage his new life as the head of a noble house as well as putting his life as a lawman behind him. Of course things don’t go as planned and Wax is forced into a new mystery that involves metal, women and magic.


Like this but with more magical acrobatics.

Review

Characters

I’ve mentioned before that I believe that Sanderson is one of the best character writers in the business today, and The Alloy of Law attests to that assertion, Sanderson fills his novella with a plethora of interesting characters. Wax being this weird combination of city born noble turned lawman leads to people in the rough calling him either refined or a dandy, while people in the city look at him as mysterious cowboy or an unsophisticated brute. His partner is a wise cracking reformed criminal who can speed up time and talk his way out of most situations, whilst the female lead is a nerd with a bit of kickass and dash genius thrown in for good measure. With The central antagonist being a immortal charismatic ex-lawman.

The only problem I had with the Characters, was with Wax, the protagonist. Wax spends most of the story swung between extremes of being noble and being lawman, which is one of the major conflicts in the books first act. The problem is that after every other chapter Wax seems to become a different person, after one chapter he becomes a metallurgist seemingly out of nowhere. Sanderson went big with multiple POVs in a novella, sometimes even multiple within a chapter. Unfortunately this left Wax feeling a little disjointed in a few scenes. The nice thing to note is that these scenes are short and don’t cause to much of a stumbling block for the reader.

Setting

For those of you new to Scadrial, the fictional land that the Mistborn series takes place in you’ll be happy to know that you won’t have to read the rest of the books to understand whats what. Thanks to some spoilers that I won’t reveal happening in The Hero of Ages.

Scadrial now features a new wild western styled “roughs” as well as some lush green plains and a large skyscraper buildings in a city called Elendel. Sanderson does a good job introducing these new environments and over the course of whats is a very short book, makes the world feel very large.

Sanderson’s series has always featured unique fantasy environment and The Alloy of Law hold true to that, replacing kingdoms and empires with republics and industrialization making for a rather different kind of story then most fantasy reader’s are used to while keeping the feel that Mistborn fan’s enjoyed. The only problem that came up was that the setting seemed to be a step down, from the Scadrial of Original Mistborn Trilogy. Luthadel was just as much Character as Vin or the Lord Ruler, it was a living breathing organism playing the parts of both the antagonist and the protagonist. The same could be said for all of the locations of in Sanderson’s earlier books albeit a bit less prominently. Elendel and the roughs are great locations, but that’s all they are.

Though it might be fair to lay blame at the constrictions of the novella, a story of this size just doesn’t get to have the feeling of a large sweeping world and  be a world with great depth. Perhaps with future novels and novellas Sanderson will bring back that feeling of a deep, evolving magical world.


Not that kind of magic.

Plot

The plot is a hard thing to review without giving out to many spoilers, I can however safely say that the plot of this novella is engaging and fun to read, With the main plot being rather straight forward, the romantic subplot being welcome even if it’s not great and with a couple of twists thrown in for good measure. On top of that the main arc for the protagonist Wax is well thought out and excellently executed. Overall Sanderson has crafted and enjoyable story to follow. Also two guys fight on top of a train.


Like this, but with 20% more magic.

Accessibility

One thing that any offshoot needs to be able to handle is accessibility, not every one who reads The Alloy of law is going to have read MistBorn series. That being said, Sanderson dumps new readers right into his world, explaining things as they come to the readers attention. It was actually interesting to read after heaving read the previous series, it’s obvious that Sanderson is expecting new readers with this book and he helping pull them in as well as inform them. His exposition works well and never hurts the pacing or the dialogue. What I did notice is that this book makes several references to it’s predecessors, and while I can’t say for sure but, I’d imagine that it would seem out of place for these random things to keep popping up that would seem to have little relevance to the actual story. However for those who have read it’s nice to see that the worlds hasn’t forgotten the events of the last three hundred years entirely.

Bottom line

Sanderson has built an enjoyable novel with strong pacing , unique concepts, well thought out characters set in an expansive world with and an entertaining story that promises future installments. The downsides is that the novella has a packed a lot of history into it’self which will be alien to any new readers as well as having a main character who doesn’t truly feel solid instead bouncing between multiple personalities(Though I’m sure many will argue thats is the point of Wax’s character). Returning readers will be glad to see that world Sanderson left it not one that simply lived happily ever after, instead they be able to see the Scadrial is dynamic, ever changing, generating new stories and always having another secret.

With the paperback and the E-book squaring out at $8 USD, the story is well worth the price of admission and advise anyone who enjoys a good fantasy book to give it a try.

down time

Posted: November 5, 2012 in Storytelling Elements

stuffs getting rough around here and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse over the next few weeks, so until further notice I’m going to be posting sporadically, hopefully once things get settled down I can add some new content to the blog.

good news is I’m in the process of starting up an new web series of book reviews, remember way back when I said I’d like this blog to be like the escapist for writers, well I’m hoping to have series of animated reviews for novels and short stories and am working on the write for the first script now. So keep checking back for more updates and hopefully a return to regular content

The last time I wrote a character focus it was about a villain you could respect, maybe even love. This time were going to focus on a much different kind of character, one who get’s slapped around by a dwarf, one who let’s his sword be stolen by a little girl, on who hides behind his mothers skirts. This weeks Character Focus presents none other than Joffrey Baratheon.


May the Others take him.

For those of you who don’t know, Joffery Baratheon is one of the major antagonist in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series,  for those of you who haven’t read the books I need to post some quite obvious spoiler warnings

spoilers Ahead

That ought to work, now down to business. Joff is signigficantly different then most  characters and even villains that you read about these days, mostly because he’s a intolerable twat. Most writer’s resources will tell you that your villains need to be deep and likable in one way or another, Joff however stands out as being as deep as dry lake bed and only being slightly well like more the AIDs and yet the character serves his purpose quite well and while I may never like Joff, I always have some sort of emotional response to his scenes, albeit it’s mostly hate, mixed with some disgust. So how do we emulate such response from our readers regarding our dastardly villains?

Threat: somebody is going to die

Martin is well know as an author who loses little sleep from killing beloved characters, and when Joffery takes center stage that threat becomes overbearing, When ever he has scene the tension jumps dramatically simply because of the characters reputation. In the TV show Game of Thrones, Joff has Ned Stark beheaded even though his mother and all of his councilors had planned to spare him. In the Show this is done in the middle of a courtyard, but in the books it’s done in the middle of a temple so that everybody got the idea that this was to be a pardoning not an execution. Joff made short work of that and the started off on his own blody rain of death and brutality.

plotting: The best laid plans…

Outside of fits of violence the boy king can be counted on to make bad decisions,  which act as boon to enemies and torment to his family. In book series like A Song of  Ice and Fire which follows characters from every side of the central conflict, you have to juggle success and failure vary carefully, because for evert victory a pov character has counts as failure on another, let one person grow to strong and the book becomes one sided. Joffery helps balance out the successes of his compatriots who normally wouldn’t make such foolish mistakes, and forces them to work around Joffery’s madness.

Foils: Making Men out of monsters

For those of you who aren’t in the know, a dramatic foil(just foil for short) is when a pair of characters are paired together to make there traits stand out, often done in a simple fashion to make strong characters look stronger and make smart characters to look smarter. However a foil can be used for far more the exemplifying simple traits, it can be used to muffle them as well  take Joffery’s loyal hound Sandor Clegane, who spends most of his time drinking, killing, and the drinking some more. Yet in moments when he, Sansa are together, the reader has to pause and really think about whether or not Sandor is all that bad of guy. Joff has a similar affect on everybody around him, by the nature of being the most monstrously hated character in the room, everybody else looks like better person for it.

 
“I may have started a war that killed million and committed acts of genocide, but at least I never laid a hand on Sansa Stark”- Hitler

Joffery is going to go down as one of the most hated characters in the history of American fiction, he’s craven, crule, incompotent, he’s everything that writers are told to avoid, but leave it to writer like Martin to pull off such a character in such a splendid fashion, and let it be reminder to other writers out there that at the end of the day, write the characters you want to write, write the characters you need to write and don’t let any other writer tell you otherwise even if that writing leads to little incestful balls of hatred and abomination so evil that Dalek wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole.

This week’s feature story come from Mike Aguerro over at Night Mares of a writer, who asked me if I could feature a manuscript of his episode from work in progress series Icarus. The main reason I decided to feature mike is because he asked, and his asking meant I didn’t have to put down A Storm of Swords or get out of my sick bed and hunt down somebody else and read their work then get permission from them to post the work. What I’m trying to say is that I’m both sick and lazy and people who want to be featured should take advantage of my sick and lazy nature.

The secondary reason I featured Mike’s work is because I’ve not yet featured a screenplay on the site and I think screenplays can teach writers some very useful lesson that get drowned out in when try to write a novel or short story. The problem with novel writing is that it throws a lot of things at you and requires you to learn them all at once, you need to understand character Pov, setting, flow, dialogue and ect… . A screen play simplifies  at least two of those things, those being setting and pov and instead focuses you in on the dialogue of the characters to drive your story forwards. That doesn’t mean the other things aren’t important, but for us novel writers reading a manuscript let’s us focus on the dialogue and find out what works, what doesn’t and why.

So without further adieu I present you Icarus: Wayfaring Sherif

By Micheal Aguerro

___

If you enjoyed this bit of writing I urge you to jump over to Nightmare of a writer and give the rest of his works a read or listen to the podcast we share together, or if your truly bored you could read his actual blog posts.

As a side note to anyone who’s following and wondering why most post schedule is off…. again, I’ve been sick in bed for the past week and have just gotten to my computer as of today to write something. hopefully something resembling a post schedule will resume next Monday with another character focus.

I’m thinking of dropping some of my writing onto the site, just wanted some feed back from you guys

I’m a little behind so this week I’m linking in our latest podcast episode which actually doesn’t have a whole lot of me, but does get a whole lot of craft time at the end of it. I do need to throw an nsfw tag on here for the amount of swearing mike manages to do in a hours time

http://aroundthetrunk.blogspot.com/2012/09/episode-four-episode-four-redudant.html

Intro:

Tyler talks about short story idea he had.

FTL

Tyler and I discuss the FTL:Faster than light, a new steam game that came out this week. It’s only nine bucks. Go buy it.

Stuff about the Podcast while we wait for Chris

We talk about the new intros, the cover art, and Max Scoville’s Free Ipad Miley Cyrus Nudes.

Idle Banter

River World by Phillip Jose Farmer !Spoilers!

Chris finally shows up
We talk stories across different mediums and Tyler recommends Rising Stars and then proceeds to spoil it pretty thoroughly, so check it out.

I talk about a comic Idea I was playing with and move into a discussion about writing in comics as a medium.

Then we talk Movies, TV, HBO

Part Two

Tyler leaves, we continues talking game of thrones and move into a discussion of chapter formats.
We then talk about characters, their motivations and backgrounds informing their dialog and
actions without resorting to exposition dumping.

We also talk about Microsoft one note for a bit. We then get back to characters and give some our examples from our own writing.

We talk about stories and arcs and a bunch of writing craft related things. There is a discussion of easter eggs, and the difference between theft and homage. Narration in other mediums, Burn Notice
and actors playing characters. We then finish up with a light discussion of Doctor Who Companions.