Archive for the Guilty Pleasure Category

Story Rants: Bad Anime Tropes

Posted in Guilty Pleasure, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2012 by thislegofmine

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Generic anime girls with over sized eyes and innocent hearts fill a lot of contemporary writing.  Anime became popular in the late 90’s early 2000’s thanks to shows like Sailor Moon, Pokemon, Tenshi Muyo, etc and is finally starting to wan in popularity.  As an art student in the early 2000’s I remember my drawing teachers threatening to fail anyone who draws over sized eyes on models.  Unfortunately I find a lot of its abused plot devices and characters being inserted into writing, and like no one gives a shit about your ability to draw half naked cartoon girls, no one cares about your recycled Anime plot.

 

At this point in American media history Anime has become its own ingrained trope, and while I have watched more than my fair share, I can’t’ help but cringe when I see its formula’s pop up in young people’s writing.  This would be fine, if they could bring something new and interesting to it.   Sadly this seems to be rare.   Anime influenced writing tends to fail because of two reasons: Anime’s use symbolism/plot devices from mythological sources that are completely foreign to Western Audiences (Shintoism/Buddism) and a lot of Anime depends heavily on cliché characterizations that offer no substance/creates impossible characters.

This isn’t to say there isn’t good, cutting edge, fresh anime’s out there, but most of the popular ones rehash the same formula’s  from series to series.  For example: I’ve taken a break from anime because I can no longer stand the “magic child” plot device.  Perhaps it’s old age, more likely it’s seeing the same thing over and over again, but I can’t stomach anymore Tiny-Tot-Ubermench’s.  Middle-schoolers and high-schoolers who are given secret, magic powers, or imbued with technology give you good fight scenes, but they use predictable tricks to make you empathize with their plights.

 

“OH they don’t really want to fight, but are forced to!”

 

You relate because your mom makes you clean your room when you don’t-wanna.  Wah.  Get over it.

 

“Shinji loves Yumishi, but she’s in love with bad-boy Takeda.”

 

I could be watching Days of Our Lives and bonding with my Grandma if I wanted to watch this crap.

 

Which brings me to my next part of this rant:  Anime translates into romance literature the worst.  I have read so much amateur writing which involves a Tsundere character meeting a Ingénue.  The Ingénue is so sweet and gosh darn clever she manages to win the heart of the Tsundere, proving s/he was kind all along.  Vomit.

 

Sometimes the Ingénue is snarky .  In amateur writing this translates to “She’s edgy.”  (See Bell)  Having a smart mouth means she can be “cool” without having to lose her virginal wholesomeness.  The results are comical.  It’s like saying a tramp-stamp makes you a punk rocker.

 

This is a propagation of the “taming bad-boy” myth that helps leads to women/men to abusive relationships.   “I can change him/er.”  “S/he just needs someone to understand them.”  “I can rescue their broken heart!”  This is the doorway to codependence, and no magical girl is going to fix a cruel asshole with her winning smile and compassion.  The more valuable lesion is, if the person your pursuing has to be convinced of your value (or conned into being nice to you), dump them and find someone who treats you like you deserve to be treated.

 

I’d love to see a story where the Tsundere character only shows enough of his/er soft side to string the Ingénue through a verbally and physically abusive relationship.  Eventually the Ingénue finds out s/he’s pregnant, forcing the Tsundere character to marry her/im.  At this point the Tsundere character’s entitlement issues increase, making him/er  feel like s/he owns the Ingénue and her/is unborn child, upping the abuse level.  Even better if the follow up story is about their children repeating the cycle of suffering.

 

Young writer’s don’t write this story, because they having’ lived this story, or they are trying to escape it.  Which is too bad, because I feel it is humanity’s duty to warn young people about the hazards of dating douche-bags.

 

 

Rather than continue to harp on these cliché’s I want to invite young writers to look at their favorite anime’s (and other tv shows) and ask themselves how the story could be more interesting.  Would the story have more flavor if the good-girl ditched the bad-boy and dated the nice-guy.  Perhaps then the bad-boy vows revenge, or maybe the nice-guy gets fed up with the woman who doesn’t love him.   Maybe the magic-child realizes he can flatten cities and kills themselves and the story is actually about the grieving family trying to come to terms with what happened.   These tropes can be used in interesting ways, please think outside of the big eyed box.

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Good Studio Habits for Writing: Some Mornings I’d Rather Be Playing Minecraft

Posted in good studio habits, good writing habits, Guilty Pleasure, I'd rather be playing minecraft, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2012 by thislegofmine

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Every day I’m forced with the same temptation:  play Minecraft or work on writing.  It’s hard to sit down at a computer every day and be productive.  I have a list of things I check and read before I ever start writing.  After all I should still have fun right?   More and more of my pre-writing time is spent reading, talking, and thinking about writing, however; so why can’t I occasionally blow my time recreating the houses from Architectural Digest?

The answer is “good studio habits,” or whatever the literary world calls them.  In the visual art world one has a studio so it is studio habits; I suppose “good office habits” is more appropriate for writers.  Wording aside, the basic gist here is that sometimes it’s damn hard to get up every day and make yourself do something.  Even going to a good paying job with amazing co-workers can be a big taxing and  gets repetitive.  The hard part about working for yourself is you don’t have these same amazing co-workers silently judging you into productivity.

So every morning I face this dilemma, hours of slacker video game time, or time spent being productive.  The positive part of having developed good studio habits is that now when I do give in and slack off, I find it extremely dissatisfying.  My brain has trained itself that during these hours I’m supposed to be thinking about writing, so even when I’m shouting my companion off a cliff in Skyrim and laughing, I am thinking “you know I could write a story about an adventuring bastard who finds money hungry fools and kicks them off cliffs.”  This tends to drive me out of the game and back into the writing zone where I at least make notes about my goofy story ideas.

Feel free to share stories about things you’ve done to develop good studio habits, or vent about your daily writing distractions.  I’m blessed not to have children; I understand they trump all things in the ability to distract.

Recommendation for a good Fan Fiction: Come To Me by Angel of Mystery 145

Posted in Fan Fiction, Fan Fiction Recommendation, Fan Fiction Review, Guilty Pleasure, Phan Fiction, Phan Fiction Recommendation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2012 by thislegofmine

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One of my big guilty pleasures is Phantom of the Opera based stories.  The Phantom of the Opera was the first ‘grown up’ novel I read as a child and since then I have been obsessed.  I’ll spare you a long diatribe about why the Christine’s/Original Characters/Etc of this world are obnoxious, because I think it is the same reason most Fan Fiction characters are not relatable.  Let’s just say that sometimes I get tired of women who can have the knife knocked out of their hand or the women whose personality is the equivalent of a horror character running through the woods in high heeled shoes.

Once in a great while I come across Phan Fiction (Feel free to roll your eyes) that is worth reading.  So while I haven’t finished it yet, I have to give Kudos to the story Come to Me by Angel of Mystery 145.  At first I shied away from this story as the title but her description of Wuthering Heights meets Phantom of the Opera proved to intriguing to pass up.

The story starts out in the Moore’s of England/Scotland.  Christine’s father shows up at their home with a gypsy boy in tow and this delights Christine while annoying her evil cousin who owns the house.  Of course this Gypsy boy is none other but Erik, the Phantom of the Opera, who has spent his young tragic life in traveling circuses due to his deformed face.  Like Cathy and Heathcliff the two form a bond of love that grows stronger with age.  Then one night Erik over hears Christine demeaning him out of frustration, takes her words too seriously, and leaves.  He steals a horse to hasten his escape and is shot down like a bandit on the road.  This sends Christine into hysterics, blaming herself for the death of her lover.  Of course it turns out Erik’s not dead and the story later shifts to focus on their reunion.

The story reads like a Gothic Novel, which I want to give Angle of Mystery 145 a lot of praise for.  While sometimes she admits her writing suffers a little from not having a copy editor, the errors never get in the way of what is going on.  My biggest complaint is that right now I am in the middle of the scenes where Christine is with “The Phantom” and suspects it’s Erik, but can’t prove it.  These seem to be dragging a little bit, but I can see that she is building up to something amazing and possibly very tragic.  It’s not often I would recommend a story that I haven’t read to the end, but I believe the first part of the story is strong enough to justify the time spent reading it.

 

p.s. I want to thank M.S. Paint for the picture above.