trope

Trope-Tastic Thursday #002 – “Never Was This Universe” – #WOEGTTT

Howdy all, and welcome back to Trope-Tastic Thursday, my weekly writing challenge, where we explore the world of fiction through tropes!  What is a trope? I’m glad you asked! Here’s what our pals at TVTropes.org have to say about it:

Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations.

In a way, tropes are like cliches (but not boring), in that they define what a reader has come to expect of certain elements of fiction. That could be the normal expectations of what to expect of an Evil Overlord, or the standard elements found in a type of fiction, like, say, Steam Punk! The point is, a reader will naturally expect certain things, and those things are defined as tropes.

And my challenge to you, each week, is to take this week’s trope and use it in a piece of fiction that is 1,000 words or less in length. You can use that trope however you wish, either playing it straight (using the trope as it is described, more or less) or turning the trope (going against the expectations defined by that particular trope). Either way, the goal is to explore the trope and see what kind of awesome fiction we can come up with. Don’t feel restricted by genre, either – just because a trope is common in, say, Fantasy, doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to use it in a drama!

Last week’s trope was “Vocal Dissonance” – check out the awesome stories that came from it:

“Songbird” by Quietude’s Junction

“We Are Roma” by Naomi Harvey

“The Wake of Pappy O’Bannon” by Mark Baron

“Zit-Faced Idiots” by Helen Espinosa

“The Boat” by Kate Spyder

“Vocal Dissonance” by Kate Loveton

And wow! Let me say, I am so glad we decided to open up this challenge a bit. What an awesome response from some excellent writers. If I missed your entry, let me know, and I’ll pop it in there – and remember, tag your stories with #woegttt to make it easier for me to find them! :)

And now, for this week’s trope….

NEVER WAS THIS UNIVERSE!
(follow the link for examples)

From TVTropes.org:

Alternate History provides a method for creating a setting which is almost like our world, but varies in large enough ways that they couldn’t plausibly actually be ours.

This trope covers settings which feel like Alternate History in this way, but don’t actually have a specified point of divergence: no matter how far back in history you look, their history has always been different from ours in some way (frequently, though not always, because it contains un-Masqueraded fantasy elements). In Spite of a Nail is necessarily in effect, in order to keep the setting approximately similar to the real world—indeed, sometimes the histories of these settings are more different from reality than their presents.

Compare Alien Space Bats; it’s nearly always possible to Retcon this sort of world into an alternate history with Alien Space Bats, by adding in a point of divergence that’s earlier than any other history you’ve introduced. Also compare Historical Fantasy. See also Close Enough Timeline and Rubber-Band History. Contrast Plausible Deniability.

What a fun trope! Definitely be sure to look at the examples given – this kind of thing covers comic book universes, parallel dimensions, and so much more.

Your challenge is to write a story in 1,000 words or less. Your deadline is next Thursday, August 28st, by noon Eastern time. Play with the trope, have fun with it, and when you are done, post it to your writing site, and come back here with a link to your post. If you can, include the hashtag #woegttt in your tags, to make it easier for other writers to find and read your challenge. Next Thursday, I’ll include a link back to your blog so that everyone can get a chance to read your story!

And one final caveat – next week, I will be at DragonCon, from Wednesday night through Monday afternoon. I should still be able to get a challenge post made, but if I get delayed by the biggest nerdfest on the East Coast of the United States, I do hope you will forgive me. ;)

Oh! And if you happen to be going to DragonCon too? LOOK ME UP! I’d love to meet some of my writer friends there!

If you have any questions or need clarification, let me know here! I’ll help however I can!

On your marks….

Get set…

Trope!

 

Trope-Tastic Thursday #001 – “Vocal Dissonance” – #WOEGTTT

(OOPS! This was supposed to be a scheduled post, but I hit the wrong button. *blush!*  Since several have already seen it, I’ll leave it up – but next weeks will actually post on Thursday!)

Howdy, my writerly friends, and welcome to the first edition of Trope-Tastic Thursday! As explained in yesterday’s lead up, Trope-Tastic Thursday is my weekly writing challenge, where we explore the world of fiction through tropes.

What is a trope? I’m glad you asked! Here’s what our pals at TVTropes.org have to say about it:

Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations.

In a way, tropes are like cliches (but not boring), in that they define what a reader has come to expect of certain elements of fiction. That could be the normal expectations of what to expect of an Evil Overlord, or the standard elements found in a type of fiction, like, say, Steam Punk! The point is, a reader will naturally expect certain things, and those things are defined as tropes.

And my challenge to you, each week, is to take this week’s trope and use it in a piece of fiction that is 1,000 words or less in length. You can use that trope however you wish, either playing it straight (using the trope as it is described, more or less) or turning the trope (going against the expectations defined by that particular trope). Either way, the goal is to explore the trope and see what kind of awesome fiction we can come up with. Don’t feel restricted by genre, either – just because a trope is common in, say, Fantasy, doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to use it in a drama!

And this week’s trope is….

VOCAL DISSONANCE!
(follow the link for examples)

From TVTropes.org:

While it may be wrong to judge a book by its cover, it’s something that happens. You see a person, you expect certain things. This extends even to their voice. If you see a muscular man, you expect a deep macho voice. The Vamp will have a sexy, sultry voice. A child’s voice is high pitched. And so on.

This trope is about when those expectations don’t match up e.g. when the muscular man has the sultry voice, The Vamp has the childish voice, and the child has the deep voice. This trope is generally played for comedy, since the idea of a squeaky voice off a big person or vice-versa is generally seen as absurd.

For better or for worse, this can sometimes come about by chance, depending on how casting in a voiced work goes. It also can occur because people tend to expect all the inhabitants of a given country to look basically the same, so hearing, say, a British accent and then realizing it’s issuing from the mouth of an ethnically Chinese person can be quite a shock.

Cute, but Cacophonic is a subtrope of this, specifically referring to when “an extremely cute and/or tiny animal turns out to have a surprisingly loud cry.” Instant Soprano, another subtrope, occurs when the Vocal Dissonance arises in response to a Groin Attack. Not to be confused with Larynx Dissonance, which involves an actor attempting to impersonate their opposite gender, or Lyrical Dissonance, which involves song lyrics.

So there we have it! Your challenge is to write a story that involves Vocal Dissonance, in 1,000 words or less. Your deadline is next Thursday, August 21st, by noon Eastern time. Play with the trope, have fun with it, and when you are done, post it to your writing site, and come back here with a link to your post. If you can, include the hashtag #woegttt in your tags, to make it easier for other writers to find and read your challenge. Next Thursday, I’ll include a link back to your blog so that everyone can get a chance to read your story!

If you have any questions or need clarification, let me know here! I’ll help however I can!

On your marks….

Get set…

Trope!

Turn-A-Trope Tuesday #7: “Good People Have Good Sex” – #WOEGTTT

At last! We’re back with another go at Turn-A-Trope Tuesday, where cliches don’t matter and stereotypes are challenged! As usual, the rules to this challenge are simple – take the assigned trope, and find a way to challenge what is expected, and do it in a thousand words or less. Turn the trope around, make it something unusual. These challenges can be really tough, but can also help you to find new ways of looking at things that are expected in good fiction. The best writers today are masters of turning tropes – will you be one too?

Before we dive into this week’s saucy trope, let’s take a look at the entries from the last challenge:

Helen’s Bring Her Back and my Be Careful What You Wish For!

This week, we return with something a bit spicier – the old trope that Good People Have Good Sex!

From TVTropes.org:

Main characters and other positive characters always have healthy sex lives. They might go through long periods of not being in a relationship (they may even be Hollywood Dateless) during which they may have a lot of good sex anyway or not. But when they are in one, the sex is frequent and good (unless the relationship is near its end).

Another version is that when villains have sex, it tends to be quick and emotionless. It will often be treated as an act of self-gratification and only the dominant villain will emerge with their desire sated. When heroes make love, it tends to be caring and passionate, with both parties emerging satisfied. This difference can be cause for a Sex Face Turn for a dissatisfied villain. Of course, this trope applies mainly for experienced adults.

For most teenage characters, even and sometimes especially heroes, any on-screen mention of sex will end in awkwardness at best, tragedy at worst. See Their First Time. Only laughingstock old guys ever need Viagra. In the days before such drugs existed, male impotence was generally perceived as a trait of villains. Impotence leads to insanity, which leads to evil actions, as with General Ripper in Dr. Strangelove or The Man with the Golden Gun.

In many settings, only characters of questionable morality have “weird” sexual preferences. For really old fashioned settings, this may even include gays and lesbians.

Turn-A-Trope Tuesday #6: “Make a Wish” – #WOEGTTT

Fear not, my friends! I didn’t forget that today was Turn-a-trope Tuesday, where we take a standard trope and attempt to tell a story that turns it on its head!  Yes, I’ve been slack and missed my deadline for last week’s story, but one incredibly awesome blogger didn’t: Helen, you are the goddess of Turn-a-Trope Tuesday! Please, go check out her submission, ‘What She Couldn’t Offer Him.”  I plan on having a story up for last week’s too, but it may not be till tomorrow.

So, what’s the trope this week? It’s “Make A Wish.” You know, how characters in stories make elaborate wishes that come true? There’s a tons of way to invert this one. Let’s see what you come up with!

From TVTropes.org:

Characters in stories always want something; it’s one of the rules of fiction. Some heroes work very hard in pursuit of their dreams, some use wit and charm, but a few look up to the nearest star and make a

longing, desperate wish. It always comes true. Wishing has power in fiction; it’s one of the main sources of Applied Phlebotinum. No matter what you want, from a new car to a sudden age-up, you can get it by wishing. Of course, you have to Be Careful What You Wish For and make sure that if you want to be special, normal, or want someone out of your life, that you actually mean exactly what you say. Good or evil, the wish-granter is almost always a Literal Genie who will gladly warp reality for the heck of it. The best known wish-granter is probably the Genie in a Bottle (or other similar magical creatures) who generally grants Three Wishes. If he’s lucky, the hero will get a Benevolent Genie; unlucky ones will have a Literal Genie or even a Jackass Genie. Other wishing methods, generally only resulting in one wish, include:

  • Wishing on a star
  • Seeing a shooting star
  • Wishing wells
  • Birthday candles and/or wishbones, which generally come with a proviso that telling anyone the wish means it won’t come true
  • Some sort of magic wish tool (like a monkey’s paw)
  • A lunar/solar eclipse
  • Any number of other things, like blowing on an eyelash, blowing the seeds off a dandelion, or blowing on wishing/pixie dust
  • The power of words

After the wish has been granted, the wisher may discover they don’t like the way things are going and will use another wish to hit a Reset Button. If after all the wishes have been used up, the wisher ends up no better off, they’ve been Wasteful Wishing. Big wishes may end in a Wishplosion. The final shot may reveal that the wish story was All Just a Dream (Or Was It a Dream?), but some stories are much more subtle and leave it up to the audience whether the “wishes” really came true or were just a string of marvelous coincidences.

1,000 words or less! Deadline by Monday the 21st!

Turn-a-trope Tuesday #5: “Opposites Attract Revenge” – #woegttt

Welcome back to another episode of Turn-a-trope Tuesday, where we take a standard trope and attempt to tell a story that turns it on its head! What does that mean exactly? I think I’ve explained this enough by now, people! C’mon! ;)

So, last week was a skip week, but that gave us a little extra time for a tough trope to crack – “A Man is Not A Virgin.” We had two entries, though, so let’s check them out and see how they handled such a challenging trope!

A Boy or a Man, at Helen’s Ramblings on This Thing Called Life

The Measure of a Man, at Woegman’s World of Witty Wonder

For this week’s trope, we’re hitting up a classic: Opposites Attract Revenge

From TVTropes.org:

A type of Love Triangle — heavy on the triangle, light on the love. When a girlfriend leaves her boyfriend, and ends up in a relationship with the boyfriend’s ideological rival, resulting in a vendetta between the two men.

 It works with the genders switched around, too.

As usual, you have 1000 words to turn this trope on its head. Have fun! :)

“The Measure of a Man” – Turn-a-trope #4, #WOEGTTT

This one was incredibly tough! Were it not that I refused to be beaten by my own challenge, I would have tossed in the towel. That said, I think the following tale does a decent job of skewering the trope, “A Man is Not a Virgin.”

Enjoy.

Tomas rode with the fury of a man possessed. The gates of the ancient temple of Kalziban lay behind him, and in his wake, the bodies of a legion of slain hellions. Ahead, he could see the door that lead to the inner temple, and the Pool of Tears. He knew that he would find her there. Lillian. His sworn ward.

As the Knight of the cloak, it has been his responsibility to protect her. And he had, through countless dangers, countless attempts on her life. She was the last of the purest bloodline, and her death would profit many an evil man. He had fought dozens to defend her, and bested them all. Sir Tomas of the Cloak was, perhaps, the greatest knight who’d ever served.

She had vanished in the night, despite all precautions. Tomas knew this time would come, had since the moment of her birth. Tonight, the moons above aligned with the Dread star, the Blood Eye of Kalziban. He knew that whoever took her, would take her here. His horse stumbled, fell. Tomas leapt from its back as it went, tumbling to the ground in clash of steel and leather. He cried out as he struck a stony pillar. His horse, ridden far beyond exhaustion, cried out, and expired. He rose to his feet, and ran up the stairs and through the temple’s doors.

“You’re too late,” Alcyon cackled. The dread summoner held up his hands, dripping with blood. “Too late, hero, too late to save her, too late to stop the summoning!”

Tomas fell to his knees with a sob. Before him, splayed across the pentacle carved into the ground, was Lillian. Sweet, innocent Lillian. The last of legal heir to the kingdom of Tancreath. The Virgin Princess. The Keeper of the Barrier. His sworn ward.

Tears fell from Tomas’ cheek. He cast away his shield as he took her hand in his own, felt the cold lifelessness therein. Her body, a ruin of blood and savagery, her thighs, a spectacle of disaster and debauchery.  Tomas’ sword slipped from his free hand, and reached, tenderly, for her cold staring eyes, unfocused and staring into the void. He closed them, softly, and brushed away a lock of coal black hair.

“It would have been enough,” the knight croaked hoarsely, “to have just killed her. ”

“Oh,” the summoner spoke, his voice filled with sarcastic mock pity, “yes, it would have. But then I would not have gotten to see this, would I have? The undefeatable Sir Tomas of the Cloak, brought to his knees? Not by a sword, not by a lance, not by an army of men…but by a man. A single man, with nothing in his hands…but blood.”

Alcyon continued to laugh madly. Tomas felt his head swim. A strange, numbing wave crashed against his nerves, his face, his limbs tingling. He rose, slowly, a final sob given to his fallen ward as he raised her up in his arms. He turned, looked to the Pool of Tears. Slowly, he walked towards it, heedless of the summoner and his madness. Around him, lights began to grow, strange, glowing, otherworldly emanations that rose from the ancient runes and sigils carved and cast throughout the hall.

“Too late!” Alcyon cried, sobbing in mirth, “She is dead!”

Tomas didn’t listen. He continued to the pool, till he stood overlooking its pale, milky waters. A drop of blood fell from Lillian’s outstretched arm, and slipped into the pool, an angry red swirl on a sea of pearl.

“She is dead,” Alcyon repeated, but his laughter cracked, slowing, “It is over, fool! And besides…”

The summoner nodded at the pool.

“It takes the life of a virgin of royal birth to halt the summoning of the Dread Lord Kalziban. She was the last. It is over!”

Tomas, silent still, lowered the girl’s body to the pool, then watched her slip beneath the surface. He stood then, turned to the mad summoner.

“Do you know the measure of a man, summoner? Do you know why I took up the Cloak?” he asked, his voice almost a whisper. Alcyon’s grin faltered.

“The Cloak is not an easy burden to bear. Its wearer must be good and strong. Generous and just. Compassionate and merciful. Swift of blade, swift of defense. Trustworthy and…pure.”

The knight turned and looked at the summoner, his eyes rimmed with red, stained with tears, but cold, so cold.

“Pure. Untouched by the hands, the lips, the body of a lover.”

Tomas ran a hand through hair as black as pitch, the same color as Lillian’s.

“I took the Cloak because I was born a bastard. And now…”

Tomas stepped to the edge of the pool. Alcyon stumbled forward, slipped in blood. He crashed to the ground, then looked up, his eyes wide with something they had never known.

Fear.

“…now I will see my sister safely to the Underworld.”

Tomas dived into the pool. Alcyon shrieked, raged, as the knight’s heavy armour pulled him quickly downward. The summoner scrambled to the pool, plunging his arms in, staining the water pink with blood. But the knight was gone, the pool empty.

Around him the walls began to shake. The sigils began to glow a violent red.  A sharp smell of ozone filled the air, and the crack of the barrier, the gateway between worlds, slammed through the air. Alcyon howled as the dissipating energies tore about the room. The ceiling quaked, and pieces began to collapse.

Then bitterly, he laughed, as the temple collapsed around him.

Turn-a-trope Tuesday #4: “A Man is not a Virgin” – #woegttt

It’s time again for Turn-a-trope Tuesday, where we take a standard trope and attempt to tell a story that turns it on its head! What does that mean exactly? Well, essentially, it means to take a common element of fiction and to do something unexpected with it. As you can see from past entries in this series, sometimes that means a complete reversal of the trope, and other times, it means a small subversion, a slight alteration that still leads to the unexpected. Why do we do this? Because it’s good for a well balanced writer to be able to spot and break cliches, and to learn how to surprise a reader while setting them up for something else entirely.

But first, let’s have a big round of applause for last week’s entrants in the “Resigned to the Call” challenge! Check out their stories, and see how they twisted that trope to delight and surprise you!

The Guardians, at Helen’s Ramblings on This Thing Called Life

To Ask or Not To Ask, at rhonwynalyna

To Heed the Call, at Woegman’s World of Witty Wonder

Now, on to this week’s trope – A Man is Not a Virgin

From TVTropes.org:

“While teenagers Can’t Get Away with Nuthin’ , and characters in slasher films often suffer Death by Sex, it is understood that the leading male must be sexually active. A guy who has never Done It, or even just does not Do It often, is simply Not Man Enough to save the day, solve the mystery or whatever. It doesn’t matter whether sexual experience is in any way relevant to the skills needed in the plot, he just has to be Man Enough so he has to have Done It and preferably Do It Regularly. That’s How It Is. Don’t Argue.

Establishing the character’s sexual competence varies from seeing a beautiful blonde, who has nothing to do with the plot and no lines to speak, crossing or leaving his bedroom early on in the film, to references to his ex-wife or old flames. Generally, however, the more macho Action Heroes don’t have wives or steady girlfriends when the adventure starts, because that would stop them from hooking up with the female lead. We just have to be made aware that she is far from being the first beautiful woman he’s had (Direct-to-DVD movies often get much lazier about this and combine it with the requisite sex scene, and will often have the male protagonist have sex with a few girls on screen while he’s in the process of falling for the female protagonist).

It also, of course, serves to make the audience absolutely and totally sure that their hero is ardently heterosexual. After all, while homosexual or bisexual characters are becoming more and more common, the number of them that are leading characters can probably be counted on one hand. Establishing the male lead’s heterosexuality assures the majority of the audience that it is thusly safe for women to want him and men to want to be him. Note that the term “virgin” originally meant “a female who has not had sex with a man”, and thus literally no male was ever a virgin — which sort of underscores the trope. The definition became more vague as language evolved.

This trope is NOT simply for examples where a male is expected to have sex and/or teased until he does so. This trope is for when a male is portrayed in-universe as feeble, pathetic, and poorly adjusted, with his virginity as an implicit or explicit cause. “

As usual, you have 1000 words to turn this trope on its head. Have fun! :)

 

 

(Edited to fix a typo – you get 1000 words, not 100!)

“To Heed the Call” – response to Turn-a-trope #3! #woegttt

On time this week is my entry to last week’s Turn-a-trope challenge: “Resigned to the Call”

Did you take part in the Turn-a-trope challenge? Reply with a link to your story in the comments below!

Just under a thousand words, here is, “To Heed the Call.”

“You don’t want me for this.”

Galyon sighed, his lips a tight line of resolve.

“We have no choice,” Galyon rumbled, his voice deep and graveled and as scarred as his body. “There is no one else who can face the coming threat of Eldinia and her minions. Already, they overrun the outer territories. Soon, they will reach the Realm.”

Hethian stared into his cup, swirling the dregs that remained slowly, thinking. He was a hard man, and his visage showed it. Sharp angles creased his face, hard muscles worked beneath his thin tunic. Unconsciously, he rolled the shoulder of his sword arm, feeling it crack and pop. He was getting too old, too worn, to be the hero.

“I say again,” Hethian muttered, “That you don’t want me for this. Are there no others you can ask?”

“Who remains?” Galyon asked, desperation causing his grumble to crack. “All our greatest warriors are gone. Dead from previous campaigns, or lost to mad adventures. There are none, Hethian, to heed the call of the King Felrick. Will you deny it as well?”

Hethian’s eyes burned, narrowed. He stood, and even Galyon, no stranger to combat, gasped. Hethian was a giant of a man, towering at least two heads above even the tallest man Galyon had ever known. The mass of angry muscle stalked towards a trunk at the end of the room. He flipped the lid, gazed inside a moment, then reached down. Gently, almost as if cradling a child, he raised a long package wrapped in old blankets. He unfolded a corner, and looked at the gleaming steel within. The blade caught the fire within his eye, and glinted. A very slight smile formed on the warrior’s face.

Galyon did not care nor question why Hethian had hung up his sword. The wars had been hard, the losses great on both sides. He knew only that the great warrior had returned to the capital, walked up to the king, and resigned his commission, forfeiting all titles and rewards his service had granted him. He was stripped of all; land, uniform, titles. The king, though, granted him his sword. The war had been hell, yes. King Felrick understood that, and though law may require the rest, the king could still grant him the right to bear arms.

“When have I ever denied the call of the king?” Hethian said, almost in a whisper. The blanket fell away, revealing the massive blade beneath. Hethian slung it over his back, adjusting the leather belts that secured it to his heavily muscled torso.

“Very well. You have asked me. I have tried to deny you, but you will not have it. I will go and meet Eldinia on the field.”

Galyon breathed a sigh of relief.

***

The kingdom was shattered, the forces of King Falrick, routed. Galyon, his face bloodied, his body weak from wounds deep and soon, deadly, lay propped near the throne. Falrick himself lay beside it, his eyes staring emptily towards the ceiling.

Eldinia approached. She wore no armour, no protections. He clothes, cut scandalously, hugged her curvy frame and swayed as she walked. In the distance, the sounds of screams and clashing swords grew less and less vivid. The battle would be over soon, entirely. The kingdom was lost. Behind her, a heavily armoured warrior kept step.

She paused, looking down at Falrick, and for a moment, Galyon saw a hint of sadness fleet across her face. It made his stomach churn. Don’t, he thought. Don’t pity him.

She turned, as if she had heard his very thoughts.

“Ah, you must be the noble Galyon. Seneschal to the King, steward of his hall.”

She looked about, gestured to the bodies fallen within.

“I fear we’ve made a bit of a mess…but do not worry. I do not think your position will last much longer.”

“Shut your mouth, witch!” Galyon roared, summoning the last of his reserves. “We have not fallen yet! Hethian remains! He will find you and avenge us, if nothing more! He will see your corpse rot beside our own!”

Her face softened. She kneeled, coming closer to the dying man.

“Sweet Galyon. Have you not heard?”

She gestured towards the armoured beast behind her. The man approached, his hands raising to unclasp the straps that held his helmet, his breastplate. As they fell away, Galyon sobbed. Hethian stood there, his face, stony.

“Hethian,” he sobbed, “Why? You were our greatest…”

The warrior held up a hand, stopping him.

“I was never yours,” he said, bluntly. “Never once. Did no one ever question how I survived when all other heroes fell? Did no one ever wonder why those who remained sought out dangerous quests from which they did not return? It was I, Galyon. I whispered in their ears about treasures to be found, powerful artifacts to save the realm. One by one, I ensured that every hero fell…till I alone remained.”

Hethian reached back, unstrapping his great sword.

“I did find pity for you. I tried to resign. Tried to remove myself from a position of power. But in the end, you came back to me. You begged me. You insisted that I must fulfill my destiny.”

The sword hissed softly as it slid from the metal rings that bound it.

“I tried to resist, Galyon. I tried to back out. You brought this. You brought me.”

The sword swung. The seneschal, to his credit, did not make a sound. Hethian dropped the heavy blade, and turned.

“It is over, my love,” he said, sorrow heavy in his voice. “The kingdom is yours.”

Eldinia smiled, took his face into her hands, and kissed him.

“Born Wrong” – my entry for Turn-a-trope Tuesdays!

Here is my entry for my brand new flash fiction challenge, Turn-a-trope Tuesdays! I invite all of my flash fiction writing friends to give it a shot!  And so without further adieu, here’s “Born Wrong”

My name is Tommy Malone. That may not mean anything to you now, but I’m sure my father’s name would.

Big Jim Malone?

Yeah, thought it might ring a bell.

It’s hard to forget the guy who solved the Dillwenger Kidnapping, the guy who found the stolen Ruby of Aru-gern, the guy who fingered the rat bastard that killed old Mrs. Fathingham and ran off with her hidden fortune. For a while there, Pops was front-page news at least once a week. Yeah, his methods were unorthodox, a little rough, but he got things done that the local beat cops couldn’t. For a while, he was all but a celebrity. And now he’s dead. Most likely a result of the last case he was working.

It made sense, I guess, for them to come to me. I mean, not just because I’m his next of kin. I guess that part makes a lot of sense. Jesus, I’m bad at this.

Ok, look, here’s the deal. Yes, I’m Tommy Malone. Son of Big Jim, who himself was the son of Jack “Hammerfist” Malone, who in turn was son of Quincy “Thunder” Malone. Every single one of them a force of justice and the law. Quincy, the Texas Ranger turned bounty hunter, who single handedly took down the last of the Red Hat gang in Arizona. Papaw Hammerfist, the WWII vet with the brass knuckles who turned became a ruthless cop on a ruthless beat and cleaned up the city like he owned the place. Pops, retired cop turned PI, turned sensationalist detective. All of them good, honest men. Never tell a lie, never flatter a lady, Pops always said.

And then there’s me. Tommy.

Who couldn’t deduce a shoe size even if I was wearing it.

They didn’t know that, of course. Hell, if they were better cops they’d have known better than to come to me in the first place. There’s a reason I didn’t go into the family business, see? You know that old adage, about a black sheep in every herd? I’m a sheep so black that shadows tremble at what might be hiding in me.

I just didn’t get the good cop gene. My powers of observation? Terrible. My ability to logic out clues? Fuck, I can’t even logic out my cable remote. My ability to find things? Maybe my ability to figure out that remote would be better if I could find the fucking thing. But the kicker is this. The one good thing I am good at? It’s the one thing they weren’t at all.

I lie like I was born to it. Utterly fucking convincing. I could make a priest swear I was a saint while robbing the poor box. I could charm a miser out of his last penny and convince him it was his idea from the start. I know I can do these things because I have done these things. The bigger problem, though, is that sometimes I can’t help myself. And when someone comes to me and asks me a question, the lie is out before I even knew I was saying it.

Which is why, when the cops asked me if I was going to look into my Pops’ murder, I said yes.
And oh, what a show I made of it. I may not be able to detect but I can certainly deceive. I put on my best attempt at a gumshoe’s garb. Wasn’t hard. I just raided dad’s closet and picked the pieces that looked the most worn out. I grabbed a notebook, went to the scene, made copious notes that were really just babble on the page, random scribbling that I could call code if someone looked too closely. I listened to the cops on the scene, nodded thoughtfully, asked vague questions that seemed to satisfy their curiosity.

But the truth is this. I don’t have the skills to solve your murder, Pops. I don’t even know where to begin.

But what I do have is a large gambling debt, owed to a very bad, very powerful crook. And thanks to this, I’ve got a death penalty worthy crime I can hang on him.

I know it’s not justice, but at least it’ll take a bad man out of the world. Yeah, yeah, and get me out of that bad man’s debt.

So sorry, old man. I can’t detect, but I can deceive.

Time to go tell the lie of the century.

Turn-a-trope Tuesdays, anyone?

I have to say, I’ve found the flash fiction challenges I’ve found on WordPress to be some of the best inspirations for writing that I’ve had the luck to stumble across. In the interest of giving back a bit to this awesome community, I feel inspired to create a flash fiction challenge of my own.

But first, are you familiar with TVTropes.org? Here’s a brief description of the site, in their own words:

Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means “stereotyped and trite.” In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are not looking for dull and uninteresting entries. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them. “TVTropes .org

So, here is my idea. On Tuesdays, I am going to randomly select a trope, and I am going to post it here on my blog. Your job as a writer will be to take that trope and turn it; that is, write a story with that trope at the center of it, but turn the trope on its head. It doesn’t have to be the exact opposite of the trope, but it does have to challenge what we know are the expectations of it.

There you have it. Let’s set a 1000 word limit, due by the following Tuesday.

Shall we start then? Today’s trope is…. Born Detective!

“Kid Detective who grows up to be a Private Detective, with the help of his/her Badass Family. In short, a parent was a PI (or other profession) and raised their child from a young age to help Mommy/Daddy spy on other people, etc.”

Due by Tuesday, June 10th. Post it in your blog, with a link to it here in comments.

Have fun! :D