[writing] Seeing your own tropes up close and personal

I’ve been doing a close line read and light revision pass of Other Me, my short YA science fiction novel with bonus identity paranoia. It’s been an interesting experience for a couple of reasons.

For one, I wrote this quite a few years ago, before the cancer with its surgeries and chemotherapies. Yet I find I remember a great deal about this book. Color me mildly surprised. Its interesting how deep some things run.

Second, I am very amused to see how my tropes repeat themselves. I already know about this. We all do it. In my case, I write about lost boys, mechanical men, hidden underground tunnels, layered truths, self-discovery, and oddball animals. There are elements of Other Me that to my eye clearly tie back to Mainspring, to Green, to Trial of Flowers.

I don’t think I’m plagiarizing myself. I do wonder a bit if I am repeating myself. On the other hand, should I be writing de novo every time I launch into a story? I find myself wondering where the balance lies between repetition and novelty.

Got no answers, but got more questions. Ah, the writing life.

Your thoughts?

3 thoughts on “[writing] Seeing your own tropes up close and personal

  1. pwstrain says:

    King made a career of repetition. Look how delighted we are when he does something _different_.
    The main character is not a writer with marital / novel / childhood troubles? How unique!
    I’m saying, worked for him. Don’t sweat it.

  2. Matte Lozenge says:

    Your short story collection The Sky That Wraps was spectacularly diverse. I don’t think I’ve ever read a collection by a single author with a wider range of styles, themes and tones. If there was repetition in the tropes I did not notice it, that’s for sure!

  3. Cora says:

    I think it’s almost inevitable that writers keep returning to certain plots, tropes and character types. I certainly have a list of things that show up again and again in my work. The reason is probably that we are writing at least in part to answer certain questions about life or to work through certain issues or fears, so naturally the same issues and questions will show up again and again.

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