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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Trope-tastic Tuesdays: Insecure Love Interest

Trope: Insecure Love Interest

Description: Even if one character in a couple thinks their love interest is great, the love interest may not feel that way themselves. This could be one of the obstacles in the way of the pair getting together, or even continue after they've officially embarked on a romantic relationship with each other. And if the relationship doesn't happen right away or there's major problems to be dealt with, the Insecure Love Interest totally understands. Why would anyone want to be with them anyway, right?

Examples: Every damn romance option in Dragon Age II (though I love them all so hard) and at least half of them in Dragon Age: Inquisition; Chuck toward Sarah in Chuck; Katniss toward Peeta in The Hunger Games; a rare yet excellent music example in Tal Bachman's She's So High (shut up, I love my 90s station)

Pros: Man, if this one doesn't hit close to home for a lot of readers/watchers/players/listeners/whateverers. Who hasn't felt this way in their relationships, aspiring or established? (If you're raising your hand right now, I'm not sure if I believe you.) If you want to make a character realistic and relatable, this is definitely a valid option.

Cons: Keep pushing someone away and eventually they'll stay there. Also, realistic though it may be, if the insecurity doesn't get resolved or drags out for too long, it's going to become annoying instead of endearing.

Would/Did I Use It?: This is pretty much the basis for the plot of Hunting Astrid, where Astrid can't believe Tabitha would want to be with her, to the point where she's still sitting around questioning her own insecurity while Tabitha is literally fighting through a virtual world in order to win her love. Thankfully, Tabitha manages to talk some sense into her. To a lesser extent, Jasmine from Out of Orbit feels this way toward Aras for a little while, trying to convince herself the ruler of the planet where she crash landed is only being kind to her due to her unfortunate circumstances and would never have any romantic interest in her...or would he?

I do want to point out that I try to be cognizant of that list of cons when writing an Insecure Love Interest and try not to dwell on the insecurity. Even if a couple gets together before the end of a book, conflict can come from plenty of other places, of course.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Trope-tastic Tuesdays: Hot Chick in a Badass Suit

(Parts of this were originally posted on February 7, 2013)

Trope: Hot Chick in a Badass Suit

Description: No link to the trope this time, because apparently in the years since I wrote the original post, TV Tropes has decided a list of women suits isn't trope-tastic enough. I still think it's a valid way to convey some information about a character, so good thing I have my description handy:

The Hot Chick in a Badass Suit means business - don't mess with her, or you will probably regret it. She's successful and she's confident in both her profession and the way she carries herself. While short skirts are a possibility, she can look just as good in a long-sleeved pantsuit that covers her chest, because her tailor is just that talented.

Examples: Agent Scully from The X-Files, most of the female lawyers on Law & Order, with special shoutouts going to Abbie Carmichael and Alex Cabot, because damn, those were some enviable suits. (Update: Let's add Connie Rubirosa to the list of notable ADAs with badass suits on Law & Order)

Pros: Want to instantly make the audience think "strong female character"? Put her in a Badass Suit. If she's wearing a Badass Suit, we can assume she must be intelligent and have at least some level of personal skills, as she's advanced in her career enough that the suit is deemed necessary to appear professional. Also, if she cares about her appearance and the way she's perceived in said career, we know she's passionate about something.

Cons: As was even covered in at least one episode of Law & Order, to some people, HCiaBS can equal "uptight bitch". I personally hate that it's an issue, but this is a list of cons, so I should point it out. One person's "strong female character" is a misogynist's "uppity woman who needs to be put in her place", after all. (*grumble*) I guess this might be a case of making sure you know your audience in order to determine how the HCiaBS is going to land.

Would/Did I Use It?: Years later, I do have some of my own examples to contribute to this trope! (Take that, TV Tropes!) The obvious one is Celeste, the main character of Blazing Justice, which drew a whole lot of inspiration from my love of Law & Order, so we can all see how I wound up there. I won't tell you in which ending(s) she keeps the Badass Suit on and in which one(s) she trades it in for something else. ;) I'd also make the case for Astrid from Hunting Astrid - while she's not in a full suit while at work, she's wearing a dressy blouse, pencil skirt, and heels when she makes a presentation to applicants to the company she works for, future love interest Tabitha included. Later on, Tabitha even comments on enjoying seeing her out of her straight-laced business attire while on a date, so I'm going to say this one's close enough to count.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Trope-tastic Tuesdays: (Defrosting) Ice Queen

(Parts of this were originally posted on January 17, 2013)

Trope: Ice Queen (and its sub-trope, the Defrosting Ice Queen)

Description: The Ice Queen is aloof and, well, frigid. She may not want to get emotionally close to anyone, or it may just be men she disdains. There are a few different ways her icy qualities can manifest themselves, ranging from slinging nasty remarks at anyone who crosses her to simply coming across as emotionless and "cold". In romance, the hero strives to "defrost" her and win her over so they can embark on a relationship.

(While not required, Ice Queens often have blonde hair and blue eyes.)

Examples: Elsa from Frozen, Katherine from The Taming of the Shrew, Hot Lips from M*A*S*H, Miranda from the Mass Effect series

Pros: The Ice Queen is no wet blanket, and she doesn't sit back and take any bullshit. She won't swoon over the hero as soon as he walks in the door; he's going to have to WORK for her affection. Comedic value is bumped up a notch if she's the type to make snappy comebacks and sends the hero away with his tail between his legs. Even if we think she's a bit snotty, we frequently can't help but root for her and want her to find true love.

Cons: If not handled with care, this trope can veer sharply into "she needed a MAN to put her in her place" territory, or imply she was a lesser human being until that man came along to defrost her. Or tame her, in Shakespeare's case. Another possibility is that there's some deep, dark, secretive reason for why the Ice Queen is so icy; it can be valid, or overly melodramatic (or both, I suppose). Then again, maybe not. Maybe she's just not a people person. However, if she comes across as too cold-hearted, it can be difficult for the audience to like and relate to her.

Would/Did I Use It?: I figured I might as well kick off the reboot of this feature with the (defrosting) Ice Queen, because I have such a prime example in my list of publications now. If the title of Fire Beyond the Frost doesn't clue you in, the main character, Catalina, definitely fits this trope. She's even got the pale blonde hair, though her eyes are green. I admit some of her attributes are coincidental, but yeah. Ice Queen for sure. Her "frostiness" doesn't come from any sort of evil or malice, though; she's just a serious person with some insecurities she tries to conceal.

In thinking it over, the titular character of Hunting Astrid probably also qualifies. Astrid (strawberry blonde hair, eye color not specified) has been hurt in the past and has her guard up, and the whole plot of the book is based on the hoops she makes Tabitha jump through in order to win her heart. To a lesser extent, Jasmine (brown hair, but blue eyes, for those of you keeping track at home) from Out of Orbit and Veronica (brown hair, eye color not specified) from Seductive Suspect also come across as rather aloof at first, and their love interests need to chip away at their icy barriers.