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Hello, writers. As you know, Bob, for the past several weeks we’ve been playing around with this overdone fantasy trope:

A callow youth (male or female) is the Chosen One who must obtain the sacred jewel of Togwogmagog in order to save the kingdom.

Last week a passing fellow writer justly scolded us for using a trope that had been done to death.

Thing is, you kind of have to use tropes that are done to death. There aren’t many new ones. When a writer does think up a trope that’s never been done before, often the thing simply doesn’t work. This is usually for reasons the writer hasn’t yet thought through: physics doesn’t work that way, people don’t work that way, the idea is just boring.

If you have a completely new idea, by all means, write it. But if you don’t have a new idea, don’t let that stop you. Just make sure you’re bringing something new to the idea.

My first editor at Random House used to always say, “Let’s dig deeper.”

Put a little twist into the overdone trope. Find out something new about the character. Instead of giving your wizard a long white beard, give her a flourescent green ‘fro and an irrational dislike of elves. Make your valiant warrior afraid of mice.  Or of sharp objects.

It doesn’t matter if the twist has been done before, either. What matters is that you dig deep and find it, and that it belongs deeply and truly to your character.

So, for tonight’s challenge, dig deeper into this callow youth. Give him/her a conflict, a difficult past, a phobia, a secret evil dream of becoming one of the Seven Solicitresses and making pots of money.

Now, put CY with the annoying character we wrote about last week—or, if you weren’t here last week, any character you want.

They’re approaching the damn jewel. They’re climbing up the mountain to the hall where it is concealed.

Now, reveal the twist. Something new about CY. Something different.

(And, if possible, try to do it in 100 words or less.)

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Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Hippie, DKOMA, and Pink Clubhouse.

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