Last week I wrote about Dr Jennifer Barnes Id list, the list of themes/tropes/characters that appeal to us. Making such a list helps readers and moviegoers understand what makes them pick up certain books or see certain movies. For writers and other storytellers, the Id list is a valuable resource, especially for someone looking for a new project or clearing a creative block. Love zombies but also love cute animal stories, and your current zombie story has stalled, let’s introduce a scene where a dog saves a man from a horde of zombies… okay, so it’s not perfect, but you get the idea?
After creating and continually adding to my list, I started thinking about things that I find equally unappealing. The first thing on that list was “courtroom dramas.” I was surprised that this was the first thing down on the page because the 40K word draft I wrote for Camp Nanowrimo in April has 2 separate court cases. When I wrote them in the frenzy that is Nano, I knew even then that I would either get another writer to write the court scenes or develop some kind of mechanism by which they didn’t have to be described in full. So far I’ve come up with the proceedings being described by media reports including Social Media posts. It’s a work in progress but definitely something I am going to revisit as soon as Nanowrimo wraps on 30th November.
I can’t wait to sink my teeth into a murderous tale of greed in a world of walls and seething underclasses inspired by Fahrenheit 451, The Great Gatsby and Bonfire of the Vanities. Seems I read these in my teens for a reason. Their themes of social class and privilege, oppression, censorship, finding meaning in our existence, one false move rippling out through life, Consumerism (not materialism as it is sometimes called), paranoia and the conspiracy theories of the ruling classes who are suddenly cast down through their own hubris. Fascinating!
So here’s my Un-Id list. I’m not necessarily saying the below stuff is bad, it just doesn’t appeal to me at all.
- courtroom dramas (to a point.)
- “bodice rippers” – I wouldn’t even pick up a book with a cover showing two people in a passionate embrace. Graphic sex scenes.
- experimental fiction – to a point
- Sexual violence/bestiality/abuse. Just no.
- formulaic stories that have been written to market in a rapid-fire time frame. You can just…tell…
- I’ve never watched Revenge/Gossip Girl/Gilmour Girls – not sure what these have in common…I tried to watch Gossip Girl because I love Blake Lively, but I couldn’t get through the first episode.
- Frivolous, consumerist stories – see anything written by Paris Hilton or even Jackie Collins for that matter. Although I did read some of these in the 80s. It was the 80s, that’s my defence. For example, Pretty Woman. Great in the 80s, not so great now. Friends. Brilliant (for straight, white, cis-gender people) in the 90s. Now, not so much. sigh…
- Magic/mythic depictions of religion – see Left Below, Miracles from Heaven.
- Schmaltz. Over-sentimentality, not the rendered goose fat, although eww.
- Senseless violence. Unless it’s fantasy, see anything with zombies, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings.
- Too many car chases. One per show, thank you, see The entire Fast and Furious franchise.
- Space stories with an emphasis on technology. If it’s in space, for me the story still needs to be character driven. Guardians of the Galaxy for example. Or Gravity.
- Now this one is weird. I don’t like titles that include a play on the main character’s name. For example, Grey’s Anatomy, Bones. I am told both are wonderful but I just don’t want to watch them. For songs, include here any singer who says their own name in the song. See Madonna’s later work, Miley Cyrus’ early work, everything Eminem ever wrote…
- Reality shows that celebrate vapidity. See Geordie Shore, Jersey Shore et al.
I’m sure there’s more but that will do for now.
Here’s a song I’m loving… makes me feel like flying away somewhere…