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Amnesia, Ballroom Dances and Other Recurring Elements

One of the big advantages of editing a bunch of my stories back to back is the ability to see what my recurring elements are – personal favorite scenarios that show up again and again in my stories.

I talk about this subject a LOT with my writing group, and there’s usually a few tag-your-friends posts about it circulating on Twitter at any given time. It seems like we all have SOMETHING (or many things) that shows up across most or all of our stories. They just somehow always find a way in! Some of the ones my friends have declared their devotion to are “there’s only one bed at the inn and whoops we have to share/kissing as a cover but it turns into the real deal/hurt&comfort after a battle.”

This week I wanted to share a few of the funny little things I’ve put into my stories, and I’d love to hear what you guys use and reuse, too!

Amnesia – I know, I know, it’s been done to death, and in my defense I do try to shake it up and keep it majorly plot-relevant! But this one is just so fun – keeping secrets from both characters nad readers, then dropping major twists! – and I appreciate it in stories I read, so naturally it comes up a ton in the stories I write!

Ballroom Dances – It doesn’t matter if it’s a modern or medieval-type story. Someone is going to have a dance. Most likely this will lead to banter or romantic shenanigans or bloodshed. Possibly all three.

Brothers – I have no idea where my deep-seated love for bromance came from but chances are, even before you have the OTP of the story kissing, you will have my bros declaring their manly devotion to one another.

The Enemies are Shadows – Twitter, pinterest, tumblr et al. will tell you in no uncertain terms that the light vs. dark story has been told to death, but it’s what I grew up with and tbh it’ll always be my favorite dichotomy. To such an extent that you’ll often find my main villains are in some way, shape or form actual shadow monsters.

Morally gray, snarky assassin/thief girls who love food and clothes – I had zero clue this was a thing for me until this summer full of editing, but yes, this very specific character archetype in my stories. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I will give you all the ladies who can pick your pocket or slit your throat six different ways without breaking a sweat but don’t want to get blood on their dress before they skip off to eat some tarts.

Elemental magic – I just. Something about the visual imagery and sheer coolness of Avatar-style elemental magic has always captivated me, so frequently in my stories you’ll have at least ONE person, creature etc. who has the ability to call fire from nothing. I actually wrote a story back in 2015ish and I had a note in my files that said NO ELEMENTAL MAGIC THIS TIME. So ofc the FMC controlled darkness or something instead.

Secret Soft Boys Who Can Snap Your Neck – As often as I feature the assassin/thief ladies who seem like sugar but are actually steel, there’s usually a guy with a reputation for snapping necks who’s actually a secret softy. I love peeling back layers on a character and revealing the ones you thought seemed nice are actually secret butt-kickers and the ones you thought were nothing but butt-kicking actually like 600 marshmallows in their cocoa.

THE AWESOME RETURN – I love, love, love separating characters for ANY reason and then having one of them show back up at a critical moment and save the day. YES PLEEEEEASE. ❤

So these are just a few of my big recurring elements, and I’m excited to see how many of these y’all will spot in The Chaos Circus when it releases! Maybe I should make a “Nay’s Cliches Bingo Board” for the launch. >)

Now let’s hear yours! What’ve you got in your arsenal that you just keep pulling out and loving every time it shows?

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