in which I realize I’m too jaded
January 21, 2012
So we got around to watching the latest Doctor Who Christmas special, which played dirty pool by giving us a heartbreaking/heartwarming World War II story. It’s like you set anything in World War II it’s automatically going to be heartbreaking/heartwarming. Setting a story in World War II is its own spoiler, dammit!
And then the father and his bomber disappear over the English Channel. And I turned to my friends and said, “You know, he isn’t really dead. Because even though in real life if your plane disappeared over the English Channel you were really really dead, in stories if your plane disappears over the English Channel it means you’re going to miraculously find your way home at the last minute and everyone will cry and be happy.”
And I was right.
After doing this sort of thing a few times this week, I’m starting to think I’m too hard on stories. But I don’t know how to turn that off — and I don’t want to, because it’s that same instinct that helps me make sure my own stories aren’t boring and predictable. I mean, I like writing stories set during World War II — lots of us do, which is why there are so many of them — so I have to constantly ask myself how to make my stories new and different and interesting. (I’ve done this by having my stories feature women pilots and that sort of thing that you don’t see very often.) But right now I’m grappling with the very fine line between “trope” and “cliche.” Can a trope be predictable and still be satisfying, storywise? How do you do that?
And I’m still not a fan of Matt Smith.