Scripts, Clichés, and Tropes! Oh My! Part 1

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

The Weditor and I were talking about genies the other night around 11pm while the Dragon roared herself to sleep. I’m sure that’s normal conversation for a married couple as they’re going to sleep right?

We were discussing how she had been surprised when a genie turned out to be malicious, and I really wasn’t. It’s not that I’m smarter (Hahaha, far from it). It’s that we were exposed to different kinds of genies. She was mostly exposed to Disney’s Aladdin and I Dream of Genie, while I spent my youth reading horror and adventure stories like Goosebumps and Bruce Coville. We’d been exposed to different Scripts for what it means to interact with a genie.

When I talk about Scripts, I’m talking about tiny stories and definitions that a writer doesn’t need to explain because the audience already knows them. It’s a form of shorthand that we use to create consistancy and fast paced narratives.

When someone reads Genie, they will assume certain things are true. (Eg. There’s a lamp, grants wishes, Middle Eastern origins, etc.) Scripts are extremely important and we use them all the time. Often when a character is alien to the main culture, them not knowing the Script is played for humour.

There’s an episode of Stargate SG1 where a character is telling the group they’ve been impregnated without having sex. When asked if they’d ever heard of anything like that one of the characters replies with, “Vader,” and a second replies with, “I was thinking of King Arthur,” to which a third character goes, “You were!?”

A virgin giving birth is a simple Script that we associate with Christian mythology. By naming other less known instances and avoiding it, the writers are playing with our expectations in a humorous way.

This subconscious use of Scripts is one of the biggest reasons that when you write you need to know your audience. Either while you’re writing or while you’re editing. Using an unfamiliar Script or a different version can not only throw someone out of the story, it can confuse them enough to stop reading.

Always make sure your stories go through multiple editors or beta readers and you’ll find how some people have no concept of certain kinds of Scripts, and others are so aware they think it’s obvious.

The next book of mine to be published is called The Sign of Faust and deals with a genie, D&D, and a lot of confusing wishes. It relies on the audience understanding certain fantasy Scripts. One of the editors had a little trouble at some points because they weren’t familiar with the Scripts, and because of that I made sure to explain a little more to avoid confusion.

I’ll talk more about Scripts and how they are similar but different from Clichés and Tropes in a later post.

 

Later Days,

Éric

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Sailing the Rubble of Galaxies – Proof-of-Concept

Every once in a while I get an idea for a novel but I’m not sure how well it’ll transition from brain to page. So I take the story out for a test drive. I call it a Proof-of-Concept and wrote about it here.

I’ve had this idea stuck in my head for the past few weeks -and I think I like it. I love the idea of a warship’s crew needing to find something else to do when there’s no war left.

Of course they’ll turn to piracy until the real threat shows itself again. It would borrow a lot from Arthurian myth but with a little Pirates of the Caribbean feel.

Let me know what you think.

Sailing Rubble of Galaxies

“Nice of them to design these cells with portholes,” admired former security commander, Nessa Muldune. It seemed like a strange waste of outer hull but she appreciated being able to see the stars.

“Shut up traitor,” sneered her jailer. Lieutenant Alfred’s disdain was a relief after the months of him awkwardly hitting on her. “We’ll be at New Mars soon and you’ll get what’s coming to you.”

The United Martian Empire (UME) Camlann was a Starcruiser class ship, with a crew of twenty-three. Her mission was to explore the other edges of the galaxy for any and all resources that could help in their war against the Ares Republic.

“Alfred, take a walk.” Doctor Anson made sure the man knew it wasn’t a suggestion.

Waiting until he’d left, Nessa said, “Peri, if you’re here to tell me how much you’ve always hated me I don’t want to hear it.”

The perfectly androgynous face of the ship’s Doctor broke into a smile. “You’re an idiot Muldune, but I don’t hate you. I agree with what you did, but they expect us medical types to be Peacers.” It was one of the worst insults for a Martian to be called a Peacer. Peace would only happen when the Empire’s enemies were all dead. Any other opinion was heresy.

The Doctor shook their head in either annoyance or amusement, Nessa couldn’t tell, and added, “I just wanted to tell you I’ve looked over the logs and I’m going to testify for you at your court-martial.”

“But that could get you thrown in here with me.”

“Doubt it. There are perks to one of my fathers being an Admiral. I’m not the only one who thinks the Captain went too far this time.”

Lifting her hand, Nessa said, “No. Shut up. Until we’re safely in dock on New Mars, I don’t want to hear about it and I don’t think you should talk about it either.” Pointing at her ears and then the walls, Nessa added, “What you’re saying could be taken as the M word and you know how the Captain doesn’t like that word.” The last person to hint at mutiny had been spaced without a trial. Her multiple commendations, stellar military record, and Red Star of Honour were the only reason Nessa wasn’t sleeping with meteors.

”Fine, but you’re not alone in this and I wanted you to know that.” Peri smiled again and turned to leave.

“Thank you. Old friend.” They’d served together for nearly twenty years, since Nessa’s first tour of duty when she was a green fifteen-year-old ensign.

Alfred walked back in and started saying crude things about the Doctor. Nessa ignored him; she was doing the same thing she’d done countless times since she’d been put in here. She went over the incident to see what she could have done differently.

They were pushing the limits of known space when they’d gotten a distress call. It was old earth Morse code. When they arrived at the coordinates they found three ships; an Ares Bird-of-Prey, an ancient frigate and a third ship they’d never seen before.

The ancient frigate was what was giving off the distress code. It must have been five hundred or more years old. Nessa’s first mistake was to suggest that the frigate might have star-maps that could lead them back to earth. The Captain had laughed at her and mocked her for her silly superstitions. He was one of the many Martians who were convinced all sentient life had evolved on New Mars.

They’d hailed the Aresian ship and received no answer, but when they hailed the unknown ship it answered with what sounded like a riddle.

Myrddin searches for Arthur

It was all they’d say. It seemed like it was a recording on repeat. When the mysterious ship opened its gunports, the Captain had ordered her to open fire. She hesitated and she still didn’t know why. It was like she froze. The Captain had thrown her to the side and fired on the ship himself.

It had done nothing, their weapons didn’t even dent the ship. The Captain was furious and ordered her to fire on the Aresian ship. Their stardrive was powered by antimatter and the explosion would be more powerful than their weapons.

It was at that point that she’d ruined her career by saying, “Sir, we can’t. If those aliens are powerful enough to take a full blast from our ion cannons, we need to get access to their tech, not blow it up.” And she’d made it worse by adding, “Not to mention that frigate could hold the key to finding our original home world.”

“New Mars is my home world you Peacer trash. Take the traitor to the bridge.” To the security guards credit, they both looked uncomfortable jailing their commanding officer. The captain had blown up Aresian ship and the frigate with one hit. The alien ship had given off one unintelligible message before it exploded. The Camlann barely made it out on time, thanks to its top of the line Stardrive.

Now she was on her way to a court martial and, if she was lucky, a life time sentence of hard labour on some mining asteroid. If she was unlucky, she’d be put in the Colosseum for sport.

Nessa felt the telltale wobble of the Camlann’s Stardrive powering down and looked forward to once again seeing the planets of the New Mars system; it was the crown jewel of the empire.

The ship shook violently and all she could see out the porthole was an asteroid field. Something was wrong.

“Brace for impact. We seem to have gone off course.” The Captain’s voice sounded calm.

Nessa felt sick. There’s no way they’d been off course. Out her porthole, all Nessa could see was darkness and meteors; she should have been able to see New Mars, it’s yellow dwarf and the other five inhabited planets.

Something had happened. The Captain’s voice came back on, “Oh Gods! What have they done!”

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The Ridiculous Adventures of Felix Felicis – Part Five

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

“Mister Felicis. Did you think getting rid of the scar on your face would be enough to fool me?” It must have been a rhetorical question because the oversized gangster continued to mumble at them, “I am greatly disappointed in the manner you chose to repay our friendship.”

“I’m not sure wh…” Felix tried to say but the other man cut him off.

“I don’t want to hear your honeyed excuses. Give me the diamond and I’ll spare your little girlfriend’s life.”

Again Felix was going to try and defend himself, but Miss Eris put her hand on his shoulder.

“I am sorry for the inconvenience we will cause you in the past sir. Was there something special about this diamond?” Miss Eris sounded calm and logical, something that soothed Felix’s frayed nerves. That was as long as he didn’t pay any attention to what she was saying.

It had been a bad birthday for Felix and he felt almost ready to give up. His apartment had been blown up, his family harassed by dinosaurs and a cyborg ape, and now he was lost in time being interrogated by mobsters. At least it couldn’t get any worse he thought.

“You have strained my patience and I believe it’s time to make an example of you,” The large man waved a sausage fingered hand and the goons pointed their guns menacingly.

“Wait, Wait,” Felix was about ready to give in and ask them to shoot him when he had an idea. “What does this diamond look like?”

Miss Eris and the mob boss looked at him as if he’d gone completely insane.

“It was the size of my fist and left to me from my grandmother. Perfect in every way,” The man replied.

“Your grandmother was perfect?” Felix asked incredulously.

“No, the diamond, you fool,” the man gestured to the goons and said, “shoot them already.”

Miss Eris grabbed his hand as the men opened fire and he felt a hot flash of pain on his face.

Once again the world went fuzzy and changed views quickly. He put his hand up to his face and it was bleeding a little. “They shot me. I’ve been shot.”

“It appears that way.” Miss Eris pulled a tissue from her pocket and dabbed at the wound. She pulled a little piece of paper and rubbed it on his face. It stung but stopped the pain. “This explains the scar.”

Someone cleared their throat. They were standing in the middle of a field between two armies. The armies were dressed in leather armour, one side held a banner of a dragon and the other of a snake. Standing beside them with weapons draw were two men who could be father and son.

The two men started yelling at them angrily in a language he didn’t recognize. “What are they saying?” he asked Miss Eris.

“I think they’re speaking Welsh,” she replied.

“and?” he asked

“I don’t speak Welsh.”

“Don’t you have a universal translator? Or something.” The two men were looking angry and had turned to point their rather nasty looking swords at them.

“Maybe we should leave.” he suggested.

“I think that might be prudent.”

Again the world went blurry, his stomach turned, and they were somewhere else.

“Ah you have arrived,” said a man with an Italian accent. His long white beard and intelligent eyes were instantly recognizable.

“Leonardo da Vinci?” Exclaimed Felix.

“Yes it is me. Do you have the diamond?” da Vinci wasn’t wearing traditional clothing, instead he wore what looked like a flight suit.

The floor shook and Felix took a few extra minutes to savour the confusion that had become his life before he accepted that they were no longer on earth but in some sort of space craft.

“No,” Felix said lamely.

Putting his hand on a button on the consol, da Vinci said, “Al, they’ve arrived but they don’t have the diamond. We need more time. Tell Tesla to stop showboating and start taking this seriously we need more time.” Turning to them he said, “I’m kinda busy right now. How about you go get that diamond and we can save humanity from the Sauren threat?”

Miss Eris grabbed his hand again and they shifted in time and space leaving behind da Vinci to continue the space dogfight.

Read Part 6

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