On Tropes

So the editors and I, while in a design meeting for the upcoming fall journal, got to talking about Hunger Games. I have read only two of the three books because, to me, they were a dry and slow read. Except for when the author would speed up during the beginning and ending, the prose was slow, and used a lot of tropes. Our talk about books didn’t stop there, as the Twilight series, the Mortal Instruments series, the Throne of Glass series, and so many more rely on the “love triangle” trope. I didn’t really care for the love triangle in Hunger Games, but when I went to finally watch the movies just few a weeks ago, I watched the trope play out on screen. I’m still struggling to figure out if I like the book or the movie better, but that is for another discussion. Addey, Amber, and I agree that some tropes right now are overdone in both books and movies/television.

Tropes, as we writers and readers know, are common underlying subplots to a story–building blocks to the main thread that help develop characters. If you look up writing tropes that are over done, “love triangle” is usually always the first one listed. Why? What makes people like reading about love triangles, and why do writers feel they have to write tropes?

I went to a workshop about putting clever twists on common tropes and here is what I learned: tropes are proven concepts that readers will read, but nevertheless they are common and overused. It really is a shortcut a writer can use to describe the subplot. But, tropes can also be a sort of useful tool. Tropes are a way to express an idea to an audience, and every genre can have tropes that fit just within that particular genre.

What tropes really do as building blocks is set up internal conflict and tie the theme to the story. It can help the log line, pitch, hook, and blurb because these tropes can be used as phrases or keywords for easier searches for readers which might sell more books.

Now here is the kicker–the twisted part to make a common trope yours. Play with “what if;” what aspects can be changed. I think this is why Hunger Games did so well–because the idea, the story, the conflict, was so original and different, it intrigued other readers and writers. And now, like Addey said in our conversation, the idea of Hunger Games is no longer original as other writers have used the idea for inspiration.

So, what about the setting can be unique to your world, the occupation of the hero, the time period the action takes place in, give the readers an unusual focus, or use all of these things. Try to take a trope in the genre you usually write, and then twist it with “what if” and see what you come up with. Try mixing tropes together, torture the hero or heroine with the trope, interplay with an archetype, look at tropes while watching TV or watching a movie, and see what you would do differently with the tropes used.

For some more information and a bunch of links for other help on tropes, visit the following sites:

Really Useful Links for Writers: Tropes and Clichés

14 Popular Fantasy Tropes — And How to Make Them Feel New Again

Romance Tropes

Genre Tropes

Happy troping!

Six Word Prompt: A Girl and A Lion

Write a story or poem and tell a tale but in six words–of where this little girl came from; where she is going; if the lion she is dragging is really a stuffed animal or if it protects the little girl from monsters at night; or if the lion teaches the girl to be a little princess warrior by day and night. What adventures has that road carried them on? Whatever sparks the ignition, use it to write about this girl and her lion. 

Please comment below with your six word story or poem.

An Update on Corruption!

Take a peek inside the next edition to hear about to the selections and finalists from the editors…

Nonfiction — guest editor Nicole McConnell:

I am filling in for an editor and reading, selecting, and editing nonfiction pieces. I have read selections for previous editions to help with the volume of fiction and poetry. I also worked for a journal in college for a semester and I helped with the nonfiction section, so I have some experience. But, like all corruption in general, with some of the stories submitted, I couldn’t tell if they were real or fake, or how much was real and how much was creative license at work. Nonetheless, the stories that I selected are probably different from the style picked by Nicole Taylor, which will make for an interesting edition. I hope you pray, laugh, cry, understand, and are amazed by the wonderful stories of those whose lives have been corrupted by something. Read about one girl who believes in God once, how elements in a man’s life can be broken down into moments, how a girl lied, how a girl will always be the outlier of her family, and how an angel in red will always be there…

Fiction — Amber Porter:

This journal’s selection ranges from shady business practices, to the corrosion of the human self, and many things in between. While some stories may not appear to be slathered in corruption, there are corrupt hints and inklings spread throughout each piece. I hope you enjoy these seven pieces and the corruption that lies deep beneath their written words.

Poetry — Addey Vaters:

I am so excited for our readers to see what’s in store for issue 2.2!  Even though our themed editions are sometimes hard to edit due to the overarching theme that must be included in each accepted piece, I thought we had some amazing submissions this time around.  The poetry section will have some wonderful takes on corruption — corruption of the soul, of natural beauty, of perceptions — and as always includes some frivolous plays on language.  Readers will get to see work from new writers who have never appeared in the journal before, as well as poems written by memorable poets who have graced the pages of borrowed solace in the past.  Corruption is a conflicted issue with such beautiful language talking about such dark things, but I’m eager for issue 2.2 to get out into the world!

Art – Karen and Nicole McConnell:

Art has been a surprise. In the past, there has been great art, but for this journal there has been amazing art! The artists who submitted really took off with the theme of corruption. This journal, there is unique art that we never published before like interesting collages, different views of people, landscapes, the environment, and the corrupted world surrounding us. My mom and I aren’t going to say too much as we want this journal to be a bit of a surprise like it was for us!

Please stay tuned for the list of stories, poems, and artists who will be featured in issue 2.2 and even more to come as this corrupted edition is being pieced together…

An Interview with the Art Editor

Since we have a special guest art editor for issue 2.2, this week we are featuring an interview with Karen so you can learn more about her. Remember, we are still accepting art (and all other submissions) until July 1st!

NM: Do you think talent for art is a talent born with, or learned?

KM: I believe imagination and creativity is something that you’re born with. Some people are just way more creative than others. I also do believe talent for certain kinds of art is also something someone is born with. Take our family for example — my mother and father are both great artists. As kid I drew a lot and was great at landscapes. I did try creating portraits but they were never my thing, I just didn’t have a knack for them, but my father did. He can draw a face out of thin air, or replicate a photo of a person in no time and it will be perfect. I like to draw nature and broad areas from a sweeping view — where can the eye take me in my artwork? Where is the focus of the lens zooming in and out of focus in my eye? Answering these questions are the things I had talents for.

Now, I am not saying that art can’t be learned. Many people who want to draw, paint, craft, and sculpt can learn those skills. But to create art takes imagination that some people naturally have more of.

NM: What type of art do you like best?

KM: I used to as a kid draw and paint landscapes. In my young adult years, I liked to use acrylic paint and sculpt. Now, in my older adult years, l like to craft. I like to make mesh wreaths out of a few items and let the contrast of colors and this other form of sculpting take me to a new creative place. I also like to make centerpieces, basically any custom floral craft you can find at Michaels or Hobby Lobby, I love doing those myself. I display them around my home, give some to you, Nicole, and help my mother make them for churches or nursing homes and for people to proudly display on their doors, tables, and in their homes. Watching people be amazed with what I can create from wire, flowers, decorative wood, mason jars, lights, and floral picks is what makes me the most happy!

NM: So for this journal so far, what do you think of our art submissions?

KM: I am truly amazed by some of the artwork that was submitted. I wasn’t really sure what it would be like when you asked me to help as the art editor, but now that I have seen the artwork myself, I can say wow. Some of the collages are so interesting, it takes a few moments to see all that is going on. The artwork for the theme of corruption has truly made some lasting impressions on me and it’s amazing to see what people can do with art, pictures, and photography, so please, keep up the good work!

Hone in on Your Creativity!

Experience art once a month to gain creativity!

Some places to go:

Museum

Concert

To see a film

Theater

Local monuments

National parks

State parks

Go for a hike

A festival

Some place magical

Don’t just go and look at paintings or try to find art—feel art, it will find you. Embrace the emotions. Study the craft. 

Any artist knows it takes hard work, patience, silence, a flood of emotions, or a lack of emotions, and sooo much time to create—and it helps if you have natural talent. And if you don’t, the great thing about art is everyone can do it at any level. I learned how to paint like I learned how to ride a bike (both of which, I learned from my father).

So, think about the passion—where does the artist’s love of art come from, the technique—are they self-taught or professionally taught, the sacrifice art takes—working a full-time job could mean art is clocking in during personal time (unless you get to create art for your job, in which case I envy you).

Artists learn from other artists, in my opinion, just as writers learn from other writers. So, how can experiencing art once a month help you?

Writers can learn to walk into a painting. A character from a play can inspire a creation of your own. Music expresses more ways to say things in beautiful ways like poetry, since writing song lyrics is a form of poetry. Every writer can learn something from art. I am a painter, and what I feel and what I want to say I can conveying through a painting.

So when I go to an art festival, I carry around a small pocket book. I jot down what I see—colors, shapes, animals, animated people, clothes people are wearing, face paint on children, the Ferris wheel turning high in the sky, and the type of art I would like to recreate but differently and in my own style. I take these creative notes home and I can write by using them as prompts, or start a painting by trying to imitate the Ferris wheel as a clock with the people in the little buckets as the numbers.

While sitting at an art museum, I sit in front of a painting and use it as my muse to write a story. What kind of world would that painting be, what characters would exist there, and I attempt to give the story the tone the painting gives in the form of emotion.

Or while hiking, sit down to sketch the chipmunks chasing each other. Or write a story about how the leaves of trees whisper to each other.

The greatest inspiration for me is when I am connected to mother nature because she teaches us what beauty in art is after all.

Submissions Update

We have barely a month left of open submissions, so we thought we would check-in to see how it is going with each editor.

From our poetry editor:

Submissions for borrowed solace issue 2.2 are intriguing, as always!  I love our themed editions because it adds another layer to whatever I am reading — corruption seems to be a theme that everyone found inspirational, but I would love to see even more poems that adhere to this theme.

From our fiction editor:

Submissions are going, reading through lots of interesting stories, but one thing is lacking; the theme. No one quite hits the theme for me, but I still have hope as I continue to work my way through submissions.

From our art editor:

There has been some awesome art this time around, the only problem is there isn’t enough art to go around. So, please submit more art that you find unique and corrupt at it’s being. 

From our nonfiction editor:

I am finding the same thing as Amber to be true, a lot of good stories, but hardly any that relate to the theme of Corruption. With almost a month left until submissions close, there are still so many possibilities that could come my way.

What is important to remember is we love publishing both unpublished writers as well as well-seasoned writers who are always working to develop their craft, and it is wonderful to see the ideas and stories people come up with. We enjoy reading the interesting lives of other people and experiencing the beauty that inspires them to create art or take a photo.

We want to enforce the theme a little more, corruption is with us every day through people around us, the news, the media, and even crime happening outside your window at this very moment. We want to read more of these things and we appreciate every submission we get. We are still, honestly, shocked by who submits to our journal and how many submissions we get. So even if you are turned away, please try again, because in this corrupt world you never know.

-editors, borrowed solace

An Editor Update

Please help me welcome someone new to the team of editors: Karen McConnell, who will now serve as our guest art editor. I interviewed her to dive more into her tastes and preferences, and it has definitely been interesting. Her favorite part about art is the storytelling, what kind of words can be used to describe a single photo, moment, or life on canvas. She admires a piece she can walk into, and take a moment to connect with emotions, thoughts, or memories that come flying at her. She likes art that leaves her with an impression. Photography that makes her feel like she is in the picture. And anything inviting her into the artist’s mind or life.

Why was she cast into our borrowed solace kingdom?  It is directly related to her experience. Having her art work displayed before and published in Fall 2018 borrowed solace, her life is a creative one. Creativity and making art runs in her veins. Karen’s mother also is very creative and in the past owned a ceramic shop for more than 20 years and sold those creations at local festivals and fairs. Karen is also my mother.  I remember as a child she had to help out at the store by making dolls and dinnerware. At the festivals, my cousins and I would play and go on adventures around the parks and downtown while our mothers worked the stalls. Every year when I was younger, aunts, cousins, friends, and anyone who wanted to come could go to the Christmas crafting party. Ornaments to hang on the tree were made. To this day, crafting parties for my grandmother’s church, for local nursing homes, shops, family’s homes, and craft festivals are when my mother’s family gets together to create any and everything.

The new thing in art that my mother and I are both trying is diamond painting art. If you haven’t tried this already, I forewarn you, it is addictive. For those of you who don’t know what it is, you can buy them on amazon for cheap, but it is a canvas with an image you pixel in with tiny rhinestones. My mother’s first adventure into this is one good angel and one dark angel to represent the light and dark of the world. My first adventure is the little mermaid sitting on her famous rock under the moon. It is addicting because you can’t stop at one rhinestone or two or three, you have to do half of the damn thing! Even then, when your eyes need a break, it’s hard to tear yourself away from how the art will turn out and the fact that it is not finished. But nonetheless, art is something that keeps Karen on her toes, since creativity is one thing that the world has lots of left to still explore. She is excited to review all of the art that is submitted to the upcoming journal.

What is prose, poetry, art?

Nonfiction

[non-fik-shuh n]

Origin: 1905-1910 [non (real) + fiction (made-up)]

noun

  1. Nonfiction is an expression of reality; it can be embellished, raw, visceral, and soothing all at once.

This issue is un-themed, there are no restrictions. Submit your semi-tall tale or surrealistic essay, I look forward to reading them.

—Nicole Taylor

Fiction

[fik-shuhn]

Origin: 1375–1425 [fict (us) ion (forming nouns)]

noun

I once wrote that that fiction was more than the Google definition of “literature in the form of prose…that describes imaginary events and people,” that it was an escape for both reader and author. And, for me, that’s still true.

  1. Fiction is finding sanctuary in a mausoleum amidst vampires and ghouls. Or finding refuge in a cruising star ship, listening to a techno-symphony.
  2. Fiction is finding yourself in someone else’s shoes and experiencing their journey, whether it’s simply a day working at a laundromat or suddenly gaining the magical capabilities to change the course of history.
  3. Fiction, an experience outside yourself that allows you a small reprieve.

—Amber Porter

Poetry

[poh-i-tree]

Origin: 1350–1400 [poetrie + maker]

noun

  1. Poetry is many things and nothing all at once.
  2. It is the beauty of a still, blank, moment; and the roar of a pulsing, combusting wave of light. This is what makes poetry so unique, and so very important to the literary landscape.
  3. Poetry allows for the breath between. It is the small, contemplative, instant after a long book, a short story, or an essay.
  4. It is similar to art in this regard – a fleeting moment, yet it can fill so much space.

—Addey Vaters

Art

[ahrt]

Origin: before 950 [ear + be]

noun

  1. Art to some is fleeting, a moment, a breath, a feeling—there to embrace and gone as soon as one walks away.
  2. Art for others is everlasting—there to remember, to stand against time, something to go back to and visit.
  3. Art to me, is neither of these things, to me, art is a collaboration of heart, soul, mind, nature, nurture. It is how one expresses their creative side from the world influencing their creative decisions, and the rest of the world sees the result.
  4. The true beauty of art is that everyone experiences what they see and feel differently, letting them have their own definition.
  5. Art is the world of others that shakes me from my own—that makes me peek out from my bubble, step outside the bubble, and understand.  It helps me walk in a world different than my own (especially my lovely bubble).

—Nicole McConnell

An Update on Home: Art

The last two journals we only received enough art to make title and cover pages, but this time we received enough submissions to make an art section!

Art can be subjective, so expression through art can be different for every person. The art in this journal represents that idea. What a person sees at home, their actual home, a piece they have in their home, or something valued to them can all be art. We received art that makes someone feel at home;  art that is something personal to represent their family, friends, or nature surrounding them; and even art reflecting lines and colors that can represent the diversity within a home.

…And I get to share that with all of you in a few months – how everyone can see home so differently through art!