Apr 132016
 

Throughout the past three years, I have been able to ascertain that there are three stories, types of stories, or story memes retold again and again which nobody is willing to welcome any longer, and henceforth should be exiled to the dustbins of hosiery! Here they are in all of their unspoken glory – and beware the variations, too. Unfortunately, I have written each of them.

1.

The love story. Emotional linkage. Moreover, two young romantics slathering over each other. Worse yet if one of them is of some special, protected category such as ghost, gremlin, zombie, homeboy, vampire, wolfboy, fairy, fairy tale meme, or absent-minded English teacher. It is enough that we recognize that people have this flaw, this need for completion, but must the rest of us read about it? see it splayed open across the grand screen? discuss it through the night on social media-  as though it were a traditional recipe for disaster? Sure, we have the so-called “anti-romance” – but isn’t that just another sheep of another color than black? Let them do what they do in private and leave the rest of us alone, thank you very much.

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Variation: The love story set in a dystopian society where good is evil and black is white and everyone is out to get everyone else because that is the way of the world and nobody is better or worse than anyone else and the equal ones are slightly more equal than the others who are not. Often they must play a game to determine who is most equal.

Example. A Beautiful Chill is an example of the oft-repeated cliche of campus unions and reunions where Art & Letters rejoice in unyielding depravity up to the final revelation of emotional slaughter. Woe is me, sayeth the love-lorn Author. (Credit for keeping it real; that is, on Earth and in modern times.)

2.

The discovery of a new world. In this avenue I would add all the doorway, portal, gateway, wardrobe, tunnel, and wormhole stories where one of “us” goes somewhere else and woo-hoo it’s almost like where we came from (or it’s quite different) and aren’t we amazed! And what does our hero/heroine do there? Exploit the darn place to within an inch of its history! Such stories have been foisted upon us usually as warnings of what we have become or shall become if we do not pay attention, pay through the nose, or pay the first-born child of every family in debt to our fanatical financials and lords of leisure! And yet we take no heed and continue to fall into our dubious inheritance. No more! “If it ain’t here, it ain’t real,” quoth one long-lost quotation master. Who should care for a world of pure invention?

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Variation: The parallel universe, the time travel story, the dystopian tale – all of them are poor representations of the main theme, us doing whatever me must, all relying on knowledge of our existing set of circumstances in order to make pun of all that we hold close to us and dreary. They mean to trick you. Smoke and mirrors, just smoke and mirrors. Mind not the poor excuse that is what you have now, for life could be far, far worse over there. Be glad you are here.

Example: The Dream Land, a lengthy tome [read ‘trilogy’] ostensibly of interdimensional [read ‘doorway, portal, etc.’] intrigue [read ‘political skulduggery’], alien romance [see above complaint], and world domination in volving two high school science nerds who grow up to become far too dangerous. Too many giant war rabbits for my liking, also. And a comet just for overkill.

3.

The medieval family clash. As a variation on ‘new worlds’ is the ‘old world’ meme. I speak here of our vainglorious return to days of yore. Either said stories are poor recreations of history mismanaged or they are faux pas histories which serve the purpose of greasepainted stages of perversity. Need we more of that? There is good reason those days of yore are done – and none too soon: we who represent the greater good of our species are simply too embarrassed by what we are capable of bestowing upon our peers. We seek atonement, forgiveness, or another round of the merry-go-round. While we may wish to relive the highlights and lowlifes, the sum total of our aspirations is a rousing return to that which never was and cannot be all in the name of trying it again for the better and falling, indeed, crashing from great dragon-borne heights to the fire-pit below!

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Variation: The story that hides in a return to mythological creations and through them and their unfolding narrativity seek to impress us with the sheer drudgery of life in those days. Be glad of the life you have now and forget those of long ago. Yet such creatures and the winsome gods and goddesses themselves make for poor judges of our modern tastes. Be not fooled or made a fool!

Example: After Ilium, where the narrative necessarily parallels the standard liturgy yet is viewed through the rose-colored lenses of a neophyte (often called ‘the lucky loser’) for the purpose of excising tears from unwary readers. It’s a quite dubious in the depiction of an infamous battle: the wooden horse and the glimmering walls and the shiny gold.

 

There is a solution. Seek not for such misguided diversions but instead search out only fair and acceptable solutions to the diversions you crave, for they do exist. Break free and live a life beneath a tree, in the fields of the locust, all barefoot and squishy, with fluffy-bunny clouds overhead and the wind in your hair – like all good little munchkins who have survived remakes of wizard-themed films. And if that fails you, then there likely is little hope; you might as well embrace your day job (night, whatever) with hardy gusto. Good day to you!

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I plead guilty, charged or not. I have dabbled in the literary arts and dared sail among the gods and goddesses of my imagination, no matter the fatigue in my wings. I saw the light above the clouds, heard the creak of heavenly gates, and yet, in the end, as imagination faltered, I flew on. And here I am . . . for what it’s worth.

“We are all little stars,” said someone on Twitter yesterday.

What do you think? Please comment.

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Stephen Swartz grew up in Kansas City where he dreamed of traveling the world. His writing usually includes exotic locations, foreign characters, and smatterings of other languages—strangers in strange lands. You get the idea: life imitating art. After studying music and composing a symphony, Stephen planned to be a music teacher before he decided to turn to fiction writing. Stephen now teaches English at a university in Oklahoma and continues to write fiction late at night.

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