Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Plot reversals and cliché reversals

"Storytelling is all about reversals, and we humans are drawn to them like crazies to the Bachelor house.... Tatooine farmboys become intergalactic heroes....  These reversals of fortunes are at the heart of good storytelling."

This is a snippet from the great writing advice in this article about Reversals from Nathan Bransford.

Ever since reading that article in May, I've been noticing reversals a lot in the books I've been reading. Starcrossed, by Josephine Angelini, is full of them. And not just plot reversals (painfully shy high school wall flower becomes Greek goddess...or rather, goddess descendant with amazing superpowers) but some neat cliché reversals.

Bear with me a moment here. If you check out the first review of Starcrossed on Goodreads, the reviewer shows in painstaking detail all the similarities between this book and Twilight.

 But when I read it, Twilight never once crossed my mind at all. Now yes, when someone pointed out the similarities, I couldn't deny they were there. But why didn't they jump out screaming "copy cat! copy cat!" while I was reading it?

 Because of cliché reversals.

  1. Helen is the reverse of the Bella* cliché, the weak-kneed damsel in distress. She's opinionated and strong. Very, very strong.
  2. A common parental cliché is parents always bugging kids to eat healthy or not to eat so much junk food. Helen and her father are a reversal. He's got heart problems and Helen is his food police, always after him to eat less salty stuff.
  3. A kryptonite cliché reversal: we all know that any hero with superpowers also has to have some form of Superman's kryptonite, a thing that takes away the superpowers and makes the hero weak. Oh my gosh, Helen's "kryptonite" is a completely hilarious reversal - I wish I could give it away but it's one of the best sneaky parts of the story!
Helen's and Lucas' superpowers aren't anything unique - I couldn't find a reversal there. But the author does a really great job of developing them and weaving them into the story, and the expression of the powers is just wildly beautiful. Again I can't say too much about them without giving away what they are: but let's just say the cover of the book really captures the beauty, power, and mystery very well. And the COLORS. Starcrossed is a book of vivid colors, in a way I find it impossible to describe.

My only complaint with Starcrossed? It's full of Greek mythology, but no mythical creatures! : -(

I really recommend this book, check out my full review (without major spoilers) on Goodreads for more reasons why I fell in love with it.

*Side note: to give Bella credit, she does exhibit one neat cliché reversal: she's a switch of the clichéd mother-daughter roles. Bella is the calm, practical, responsible adult and her mother is the flighty, irresponsible child.

 Have you seen any neat writing devices, like cliché reversals, in your recent reads?

Oh, and my blogging friend and fellow writer crusader Akoss interviewed me. My very first interview ever is up on her blog today!

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