Ciao, SEers. In the spirit of the new year (and all things new) I thought I’d broach a subject that’s foremost in my mind these days—new projects. Specifically, starting a new story or series in a genre you haven’t written in before. There’s nothing more daunting than staring at a blank page.
Unless, of course, you’re staring at a blank page and are at a complete loss as to what to say.
It might seem counterintuitive that a writer, whose primary purpose is to tell a story, would sit to start brainstorming or plotting or writing without some idea in his or her head. I suppose it is, if you think of a writer starting with a completely blank slate. I mean, who among us would try to tell a story without at least a seed of an idea to nurture?
That’s not what I mean. I’m talking about waking from a dead sleep with a fabulous idea for a story, one that won’t let go of you. But you’ve only ever written westerns and this one is a futuristic sci fi story. Where do you begin?
The resource I’m sharing with you today will help with that. (Honestly, if you want to start with a completely blank slate, this resource might spark an idea in you.)
I’m talking about TV TROPES.
Don’t worry; this isn’t a resource just for script writing. What you learn here can be extrapolated to fiction writing, too.
There are four main sections.
- Genre: gives a list of genres as well as a selection of related material.
- Media: is a little less helpful and definitely more specialized; it includes more than just the written medium and offers some interesting information that you might be able to use to your favor.
- Narrative: this is a great section for improving your craft; you’ll find resources on character, plot, and setting development as well as sections on dialogue, conflict, motifs, and symbolism.
- Topical: tropes broken down by topic rather than by genre; this is useful when you want to write a story about something in particular (like a rite of passage) rather than thinking about writing a type of story (like steampunk).
And if you’re just looking for the biggest and most comprehensive list of them all? Start with the TV Trope Index.
I believe a writer could find inspiration or answers to genre questions all over this site, but for me, I find the genre options and the index itself the most useful.
I’ve never actually used the site before. (I’d never even heard of it until recently.) I usually get ideas that are fully-formed or are easily developed as I write an outline. But my bosses recommended this site to one of our staff writers, and I couldn’t help but check it out. It’s a treasure trove of information.
I’m starting a new series in a new-to-me genre, and I’m probably going to peruse a few of these categories before I finalize my outlines. I thought perhaps some of you might find this resources useful, too. After you look at it, or if you’ve used it before, I’d love to know what you think. Let’s talk about it below.