Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top Ten Reoccurring Elements: Writing Edition!

[info]kristin_briana recently blogged about the reoccurring elements in her writing, so—naturally—I got inspired to do the same! (I’m also tempted to do a similar list for my art, but who knows if I’ll ever get around to typing that up!) So, what kind of elements do I abuse in my writing? Here’s a Top Ten list, in no particular order…

1) Having at least one character with some kind of disease/disability/disorder.

One of these things is not like the others…

I’m especially impassioned about this as a fantasy writer, since these kinds of characters are practically nonexistent in the genre. (And the ones that do exist are often so cliché, like the blind psychic. Really, fantasy genre? You can’t come up with something new?!) I usually try to make this kind of character be the protagonist, but sometimes that’s not possible, so it’s secondary characters to the rescue! Nothing is off limits to me. Diabetes, bipolar disorder, paraplegia, OCD, alopecia, etc, etc? BRING. IT. ON. (I must admit, diabetes is the one I abuse the most, but that’s simply because I’m a type-1 diabetic myself!)

2) Making characters cry.


No, not in a *Hey, look, they’re sensitive!* way. (Although that may be the case for some.) This is more of a *I have just irrevocably ruined your life, then kicked you while you’re down. Then I kicked your puppy in the face, ’cause hey, why not? Here, have a cupcake to cheer you up—oh wait, I already ate the cupcake. Sorry! (Not.)* way. (I’m too mean to my characters, maybe? Nah….)

3) Keeping folklore old-school.

*NOT an example of old-school folklore*

In other words, I like to stay as true as I can to the original mythos of something, only improvising when I have to. It can be challenging sometimes, since it makes me less apt to change things to cater to the plot I want, but it’s a fun challenge! (Especially when the mythos I’m using are utterly off-the-wall crazy…. *hee*)

4) Including inside-jokes.

TVD’s inside-joke with book fans!

All of my books reference something that only I, and maybe some family members and friends, will get. My latest WIP, CM, already has a handful (CANDY CANE CAR!), and FLG doesn’t shy away from it, either. (One of many examples: Arden’s ice skating ability—or *cough* lack thereof—is a replica of my ability. Poor Arden….)

5) Having echo effects.

ECHO!!! I mean, FIRE!!!

I love making certain scenes and elements mirror each other in some way in a single book or series. (Lynne Ewing did this with the first and last books of her Daughters of the Moon series, and I love her for it!) It helps make things feel as if they're coming full-circle. One example I’m especially proud of is in FLG, where parts of the first and last chapters are basically flip-flopped, funhouse-mirror versions of each other. I hope it’ll give readers a fun sense of closure, despite some loose ends!

6) Not making families MIA.

A teen show with a parent present? APOCALYPSE!

Families are very much a part of my characters’ lives, and are a crucial part, even when I can’t have them be around, for one reason or another. (For example, Arden’s banishment in FLG would be a perfect opportunity to make his parents MIA, but no, they still intrude on his life, and even his thoughts, whenever they’re not around.) I adore my family—they’ve played a huge part in shaping the kind of person I am—so why deny my characters of similar growth via their parents, siblings, and what-have-you?!

7) Creating close friendships for my characters.

Fighting evil dressed as a condom is a lot more fun with friends!

Although I always had a hard time forming friendships growing up, I just can’t help but have my characters develop a close-knit group of friends! It’s fun to have their various personalities bounce off each other, and it gives my protagonist a lot more to lose once the Big Bad comes.

8) Making evil and betrayal exist close to home.

Aww, he loves—OH SNAP HE GUTTED HER.

For some reason, in my books, I often have Big Bads and betrayals come in the form of someone (or someones!) the protagonist is close to. A friend? Family member? Love interest? All three? Why not! My characters could always use another reason to cry…. ;)

9) Making readers laugh.

This show is about a vampire cursed with a soul, trying to make amends for his past sins. No, really.

I love including comedy in my books, whether I’m writing something super-fluffy or something that’s darkity-dark darkness covered in dark. Books just feel more real when there’s some humor in them. FLG has more than some, if I did my job right, since it was my goal to make readers laugh on practically every page of that book….

10) Proving humans are awesome.
Gotta love a guy who can remain human during the entire course of a seven-season show!

Yeah, I write fantasy fiction, but that doesn’t mean I believe the human characters should be overshadowed—far from it! It annoys me when other fantasies show humans as unimportant and/or incapable of facing the supernatural. I'm just as annoyed when the few human characters that are around all end up becoming supernatural themselves by the end. In my books, humans can be capable, even if the odds are against them. And while it’s impossible for me to keep everyone from making some kind of human-to-superhuman transition, I still try to make sure there’s an equal balance of humans and non-humans in a single project!

There’s probably lots of other elements I abuse in my writing, but this is all I’ll list for now. I didn’t even mention my weird need to have at least one character—usually the most unlikely of the bunch—spontaneously do a round of jazz hands.

Oh, wait, I did just mention it, didn’t I? Whoops.

What about the rest of you writers out there? Do you abuse any of these same elements in your writing, or something completely different? Sound off in the comments—or even better, do a post of your own! I’d love to read it. :)


  1. haha! Oh look a glitter fairy! Sorry, I couldn't resist.

    All of my characters show the same patterns of behaviour as me. Self-destructive and depressive. But that's kind of typical in the YA paranormal genre anyway.

    Lol! Who is the man in the moving pic thingy? Is he the one who does the JK Rowling show spoof thing?

  2. @Ghostie Girl: A lot of my characters reflect my behavior in some way, too. I think it's hard to avoid 100%, since we're writing these characters and all!

    The man in the gif is Craig Ferguson, from the Late Late Show on CBS. I have no idea if he's ever done any JK Rowling spoofs or not, but he's utterly hilarious whenever I catch his show, so I wouldn't be surprised if he did any. :P

  3. I guess so but there are quite a few writers out there who say stuff like "so and so is nothing like me!" *ahemStephenie Meyerahem*

    We don't get that show or channel in the UK so I only get to see his stuff on Youtube.