11 Exhausted SF Tropes You Should Avoid. Really.

I don’t write a lot of SciFi (yet?) but I appreciate that there are authors out there who are turning a critical eye to sexism and racism in genre fiction. This isn’t new, but it should still be reiterated and spread as much as possible. Because ideas have consequences, and the consequences of some of these older ideas have reverberated far and wide.

Carrie Cuinn

Some ideas have been done to death in science fiction. We all know there are no new ideas anymore, and what matters most is the execution of the idea you stole have, but there are a few things that are not only over-done, they’re either incredibly stupid or offensive, as well. Here’s a partial list of tropes I’d love to never see again:

Stupid/Lazy Writing

  1. Funky Alien Language: your aliens from across the galaxy speak perfect English, except for a few “untranslatable” slang phrases? Or the language is made entirely of clicks and apostrophes? Hey, I know! All of your proper names are made with the 5, 8, or 10 point letters from Scrabble. Worst yet is when all of the men have harsh, hard-sounding names, and all of  the women (or other effeminate species) have soft, vowel- and f/l/sh-heavy names. This is an instant clue that you’re dealing…

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Optimism Monday: Moving Two Toddlers….and Writing?


What a weekend! I got a total of 6 hours of sleep while I did a crazy 24 hours of traveling to Maryland. I am filled with joy after attending the wedding of my uncle and his partner!! I also had the opportunity to send off my little sister to Texas, which was wonderful.

But now here I am 5 days away from my move to a larger place in another suburb of Boston. Not only that, but my husband and I are putting in a bid on a house this week. A bid on a house!!


So, you know, who would have reasonable expectations of writing this week???

The good news is that there is still nap time and bedtime, which are great for writing. So I’m going to reserve Tuesday and Thursday for purely fiction writing during nap time (that means another week of only 3 posts from me). I’m also going to only focus on Accountability, which I’m still editing and Before Her Time, which I’m rewriting. The goal is to have Accountability completely edited and reposted by Friday. That’s my only writing goal this week.

Seeing as it has seemed to only grow larger rather than smaller, I don’t know how much feedback I’m going to get for it. Hopefully something.

I’m looking for another community that gives more feedback. I’m considering joining Lit Reactor…has anyone used it? Do any of you like it? Is it worth the money to join the critique section?

Accountability Friday: Excuses, Excuses


I wish I had been as productive this week as I was last week. Unfortunately, life got in the way. I’m not a girl who likes to give excuses, and I don’t even think that the excuses that I have are terribly legit this week. But I’m preparing myself for being a bit unproductive over the next few weeks. I’m moving. With 2 toddlers. and I’m traveling alone this weekend. I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done during the down-times that I’ll have over the next 24 hours. We’ll see what the brain cooks up.


In the mean time, Accountability was not totally reworked this week. It’s close, and it has ballooned by almost another 1500 words (good words), but it isn’t complete yet. This weekend, I’m going analog to rewrite Before Her Time. 


See you next week!

Writer Wednesday: Optimism is fading…


I can tell you right now that I’m not going to be meeting my goals this week. My mind is pretty crippled creatively–there are too many things to handle on the home front. I have my notebooks with me and I am certainly writing ideas when they come, but it is hard to ask the muse for output when there are boxes to be packed.

So let’s see if there is anything that can be done:


1) Accountability, the prequel for Before Her Time, was well received and torn to pieces by my writing group. I have a lot of work to do this week, and that will be my first priority.

I’d like to be able to have this rework done by Friday. That is my only goal for the week.

2) If I can, I’d like to rewrite and expand Before Her Time, and have that ready for posting to the group by Friday.

Striking through and postponing until after our move.

3) Chuck’s weekly challenge involves the plot generator this week. I’ve hit that button about 100 times in the course of 3 days, and I encountered about 3 viable ideas. I’m going to try to find a prompt, but if something doesn’t pop and speak to me by tomorrow morning  his might be a wash.

Striking through because the plot generator gave me nothing interesting.


I’m solely looking to finish this rework this week. Optimism even on this is fading, but I’m committing to getting something done this week. We’ll see if we can get something done…

Optimism Monday: Moving to an apartment, purchasing a house, and writing?

We are moving in two weeks, and I’m trying to keep it together. After having such a productive week last week, I’d like to keep the momentum going, but this might have to come to a full freaking stop in a few days. We’re moving to a really great new townhouse next week in preparation of my eldest son starting preschool in September. I am so excited and worried I can’t keep my head straight. To make things more complicated, My husband and I encountered a house last week that I’m absolutely in love with. I can’t stop thinking about it. Of course, signing a lease for an apartment only to turn around and sign up for a mortgage makes things interesting… lots to think about. In the meantime, I still have to keep appointments and entertain little babies. My life is a hot mess. 🙂

Let’s go to the boards:

1) Accountability, the prequel for Before Her Time, was well received and torn to pieces by my writing group. I have a lot of work to do this week, and that will be my first priority.

2) If I can, I’d like to rewrite and expand Before Her Time, and have that ready for posting to the group by Friday.

3) Chuck’s weekly challenge involves the plot generator this week. I’ve hit that button about 100 times in the course of 3 days, and I encountered about 3 viable ideas. I’m going to try to find a prompt, but if something doesn’t pop and speak to me by tomorrow morning  his might be a wash.

That is seemingly short, but that represents about 8,000-9,000 words worth of work. Let’s hope I can pull it off!

Hope you have a word-packed week ahead of you!!

Accountability Friday: Accomplished and feeling good.


I wrote somewhere in the ballpark of 6500 words this week. More if you count all of the times I just wiped out 500 words of progress. I can’t believe how much I did this week and I can’t wait to continue the positive momentum.

Let’s go to the boards:

1) I freaking must finish the prequel for Before Her TIme. I am 2,000 words into this thing, and it shows no signs of stopping. I think that I’m allllmoooosssstttt there, but I think that I have another 2,000 words more before this story is complete. Excerpt by Friday. EXCERPT BY FRIDAY!!!! (roar!)

Done and done. I feel sooo goood about this.

2) Flash Fiction for Chuck this week? Let’s pick a line right now… Here we go: “That plan didn’t fly, superhero, and now we’re short a bazooka.” I liked this line the first time I read it and it has been with me all weekend. I envision a wedding. Let’s see.

Done and done. I actually got some positive feedback on what I created for this one, too.

3) Write out 1000 words of a YA concept that I have. I’m going to guard this one close to the vest because I think that the idea is interesting and viable. I might share this with my writing group before I put it on this blog. Well… maybe I’ll share a little bit. We’ll see. :)

1000 words were written, unfortunately, they aren’t really getting my motor running. This story is going to be my big project next week while I’m still garnering feedback from Accountability.

4) Start the rewrite for Before Her Time. Notice I said “start.” Very ambiguous! Let’s see if we can make that a 100 word minimum, just so I don’t get cute and write only one sentence.

Annnnddd done.


I’m out of words this week. I’m going to write a little bit tonight just so I can get the YA story off the ground (and I might work on the Before Her Time remake, too), but I have come to the end of my words this week. I’m feeling so good this week.

I hope that you had a productive week as well. Let’s have inspiring weekends so that we can get back to it on Monday!

1,000 word Excerpt: Accountability (Work in Progress, Working title)


I wrote a flash fiction a few weeks ago called Before Her Time, about a woman perceived to be a “witch” and the man who loved her. It wasn’t the best thing that I’ve ever written, but it got me thinking about women, power and society. I wanted to think about her origin story, and write more about her. Her world and character really lit up my imagination. It turns out the story has legs. This is the first of multiple stories involving Victoria, the Duchess of Duxbury. It is still a work in progress, which I’ve submitted to my writing group for critique. I’ve already veen given a few really great suggestions, which I’ll be incorporating this week. When I’m done, I’ll post the short story in its entirety on this blog.

Here is the first 1,000 words (and remember, this hasn’t been fully tightened and edited yet, so it will most likely changed between now and the final version).



Finer ships had never been produced in the kingdom, and the Duchess of Duxbury looked upon them with the proudest smile that she could muster. Her men had worked hard, and they were to be rewarded today with the best food and wine she could find. Famers from her duchy and the two surrounding had fallen all over themselves to get a piece of the fortune she was using to purchase the food, wine and ale for the celebration, and she was happy to give.

Five ships were in the docks, fitted and ready to sail to the far corners of an ever expanding world. None of her men were sailors. Those men would be trickling in over the next few days to set the ships on their maiden voyages. When the docks cleared, her men would start anew on five more for another year. This was the third completion of the cycle, and orders came in by the day, along with more skilled craftsmen looking for work. The Duchess stifled a giddy giggle. The success and growth seemed to have happened over night.

“You look like a proud mother looking after her children, Tori,” her good friend and chief advisor, Alistair, observed in a low tone.

Liza, Tori’s governess, overheard and cleared her throat. “The Victoria, Duchess of Duxbury, should be very pleased with the progress of her people. Their hard work is for her benefit, and for the benefit of our great kingdom.”

Tori’s proud smile faded into her unimpressed expression. Liza’s undergarments were always just a bit too tight.

“Will you be addressing the men now, your grace? Shall I have them gathered?” Alistair, too, had better things to do than mind the minder.

“This is their day. Let them have it. I shall address them later. Bring me the dock master. I should like to tour the men’s good work.”

Alistair nodded his head in acknowledgment, but hesitated before he turned to do his duty. Tori’s mind was on other things. She’d noticed something missing from the revelry of the feast on the docks below.

“There aren’t a lot of women here, Liza. Where are the wives? The sweethearts?”

“Since the Duchess chooses to set a poor example by not being married herself,” Liza started. Tori let out an audible and annoyed sigh. Enough to make Liza change course. “I believe that a lot of these men are simply unattached, your grace.”

“These men live here, they eat here, they drink here, and they’ve laundry and other needs. Women usually fill those needs, yet there are none here. This makes no sense, Liza, and it has nothing to do with my attachments.”

Liza tittered for a moment, then gave a sort of shrug. It was odd not to see any other women about. The men were serving themselves ale and food was being served by the farmers who brought it or the cooks who prepared it. Tori thought about this for a few more moments before her attention drifted to the large and beautiful ships that were about to leave her shores. They were beautiful, they were strong, and they were a perfect representation of her land and her people.

Alistair returned with the dockmaster, a tall, older gentleman with a slender build but for noticeable belly built from years of drinking ale. He genuflected, he eyes downcast.

“You’ve built fine ships that will bring more people and money to our duchy, dockmaster. I commend you,” Tori greeted warmly.

The man stood, “to be in the presence of my beautiful duchess is too great a reward, your grace.”

Liza frowned in disapproval, though Tori giggled at the compliment. “Your duchess would like a tour of your ships, good sir. Off you go!”

“Please don’t mind my governess,” Tori’s laugh masked her growing annoyance, “would you please show us your ships.”

The group walked toward the docks and were noticed by the happy workmen, who stopped and cheered as they walked by. Tori loved the attention, rarely having the opportunity to come face to face with happy citizens of her duchy. She stopped and greeted some of the men as they walked passed before they took the long walk down the pier and onto the first ship.

“This is your very basic merchant ship, you grace,” the dockmaster explained as they walked onto the deck, “but it is fast. Probably among the fastest we’ve ever built…”

The others listened with interest, and Tori put on her listening face, but her mind wandered back to the men reveling on the deck. So many men with so few women about tugged at her. She walked around the deck and into the holds below. It was a beautiful ship, with plenty of room for cargo and goods.

The second and third ship were much of the same. She looked about and was generally please. When they got off the third ship, she took steps toward the fourth.

“Your grace, the other two ships are more of the same,” The dockmaster rung his hands, “I would hate to tire you out or, worse, waste your time by showing you identical ships.”

Tori stopped to eye them and noticed differences in the bodies of the last two as compared with the first she’d seen. While the first three were made for speed as well as space, the last two seemed to emphasize more space than nimble speed across the seas.

“I see some details that I think would be nice to look at up close,” Tori said, and took a few steps.

Alistair stepped forward, “your grace, you still must address the gathered men and as you can see, they are already becoming a bit raucous.”

Tori looked the ships over and wondered how much of a difference they would be. They were ships, well made and destined to take the fame of her craftsmen to far places. She turned her back to them and prepared herself for addressing the gathered men.