Darth Vera: The Art of Balancing Tropes

Happy post-Mardi Gras/Valentine’s Day!

I’m uploading the craziest chapter yet today– Cuff I: Chapter 3. It deals with Empress Vera during the Riverlight Festival, and it completely transforms her from the cold, villainous character you’ve come to know into something much more bizarre and complex. I love this chapter.

On this note, I want to discuss tropes, which are something that I try to keep under control in my writing. I don’t want anyone to feel like they’ve read this story before. If too many characters, conflicts, or settings feel cliche, then it’s pretty easy to become bored by the whole thing. Yet, tropes are warm and comfortable. As a reader, we sometimes like when things meet our expectations, and, as a writer, sometimes it’s just easier to use a trope than to reinvent the wheel on every page. Besides, there’s a difference between huge, obnoxious tropes (i.e. there are no magic wands, mine-dwelling dwarves, or fire-breathing dragons in Four Cuffs) and realistic tropes that appear in real life (such as the abusive boss, the lying politician, the nervous servant, etc). Tropes aren’t all bad– they just can’t be oppressive.

Empress Vera is the prime example of my attempt to meet this balance. Your first impression of her, from Cuff I: Chapter 1, is that she might just be the most manipulative, antagonistic person in the whole world. I really like this introduction, because there’s something awe-inspiring to me about a character who just has so much power and so little regard for others that they seem unfathomably, inhumanely evil. It’s like watching Darth Vader mow down rebel scum, or Frank Underwood strangle a puppy. I love it.

BUT, a purely evil character is both unrealistic and two-dimensional. We’ve all experienced this before in various media. It’s a trope.

Cuff I: Chapter 3 takes the trope and strangles it, like Frank Underwood’s puppy. It gives Empress Vera the third dimension that she needs to be a real character. Definitely go check it out if you haven’t already. Shit goes down.

Once again, if you’re new to this site, here’s the Introductory Blog Post to explain what Four Cuffs is and why you should care. And, as always, go vote on which chapter you want to read next!

Saria salut,

Eric Dax

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