Tuesday Tropes: NaNo Edition #3

Because of NaNoWriMo, my posts are going to be pretty short this month, since I’m trying to devote more time to writing my novel (and still have time to sleep, eat, and do fun things). So what I’m going to do is identify possibly problematic tropes in my story for the month, talk about them, and write ideas for how to fix them (and maybe, in turn, give you guys some tips on how to fix your own bad tropes).

This week: Sibling Rivalry & Cain and Abel

"Zuko vs Azula" by thevampiredio

“Zuko vs Azula” by thevampiredio

I didn’t mean for it to happen. Honestly. They weren’t even supposed to be sisters! It just kind of… happened. Sibling rivalry is an incredibly common trope, and it’s no surprise why. It’s something that occurs naturally in our lives all the time. Growing up alongside parents’ friends’ kids even gives only children a similar experience. From Dexter and Dee Dee to Sherlock and Mycroft, it can have any range of consequences and severity. The Cain and Abel dynamic comes in when there’s a darker twist to the relationship, usually with one sibling being a symbol of good and the other being a symbol of evil, the roots of their hatred and anger usually linked to jealousy.

So what happened in my story? Well, there’s this half-demon woman, upset by the fact that she has been forced into hiding and self-mutilation to live among humans. She ends up heading some half-demon cities and eventually becomes their unified leader. As I was writing her, I thought, Well, it would make her a lot more intense if she was related to demon royalty, so I’ll make her half fire demon. Fine. That’s all well and good.

Then I got to the part where I had to introduce the Queen of Hell, a devil of the Underworld. So as I was designing her and having her interact with the characters, it just felt like she was constantly nagging at me, “Lady Hala should be my half-sister.”

And, well, here we are.

Their relationship falls somewhere between sibling rivalry and Cain and Abel. Neither of them are exceptionally good, nor are they evil. The tension of their relationship doesn’t root to jealousy, but rather to social dynamics between them and the way their relationship was suddenly ended as children.

Will they repair their relationship by the end? I honestly don’t know. But right now, they’re sisters at odds with two very different goals in life and whose goals directly conflict with each other. They’re very devoted to their own causes and missions, so it’s as much of a mystery to me as it is to you on whether or not they’ll be able to work through their differences. They don’t hate each other and they don’t want to kill each other, but if worse comes to worst, who knows what they’ll do to see their goals reached.

2 comments on “Tuesday Tropes: NaNo Edition #3

  1. While it does get used a lot, I think there’s still a lot of value in this trope. Like a creepy old-school circus, the sibling rivalry mixes good and bad feelings together, making both more interesting and more complex. At least, that’s what happens when it does well.
    I’m sure there are plenty of other comparisons I could have made aside from the circus one, it just sprang to mind from reading this post by EsotereX yesterday:

    • Oh, definitely! Tropes by themselves are not necessarily bad, but the way they’re combined and used is what can make them cliche or boring.

      Thanks for linking the interesting article, by the way!

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