My cool bits post
generated the best comments ever. You guys are wonderful and make me want to read and write stories designed for each and every one of you.
I realize that I only mentioned a couple of the things that I love, and the list at the end of my post was not necessarily things that I love: amnesia and Old West gunfights, for instance, are not particular kinks of mine, but were mentioned only as examples. So here's my non-exhaustive list:
Imagery patterns, in which recurring images reflect the shifts of character and story. Imagery patterns associated with certain characters, especially if it's not the image one might normally associate with that character, like the poetic "bird in a cage" for the jerk Hyuuga Neji or the spiritual and philosophical imagery for the roughneck Mugen.
Desperately lonely characters who had horrible childhoods and think no one will ever love them, but find friends who love them and end up making their own families that way. Characters who think they have some sort of awful fixed destiny, but break out of it. Characters who deliberately inspire others to be better than they ever thought they could be. Characters who have a serious physical, mental, or emotional disability or problem that doesn't ever get fixed, but who triumph despite it. Characters who are emotionally scarred by battle or other past traumas, but rise above it. Characters who have no special gifts or talents or advantages, but who make up for it with guts, hard work, and determination. (This paragraph should be titled, "Why I love Naruto
and the Miles Vorkosigan books.)
Barehanded martial arts. Martial arts with cool non-firearm weapons. Training sequences. Camaraderie between competitors. Camaraderie between soldiers. The intensity of relationships that exists because everyone's doing intense or dangerous work together. Romances between military or paramilitary partners. Backstage dramas. Backstage comedies. Stories set in institutions or hospitals. Groups of people from totally different backgrounds working together toward a common goal. Guerilla fighters and rag-tag rebels, with moral ambiguity over one person's freedom fighter being another's terrorist.
Interracial relationships where that's not the main issue of the story. Characters who protect each other and will come running if the other calls. Characters who love each other but have to put a larger responsibility over their personal happiness, and who respect each other's choice to do so. Friendships that slowly become romances. Friendships of the passionate, die-for-each-other kind that never become romances. Intense friendships with simmering sexual tension, and also without.
Two people who are each other's light and dark side, like Buffy and Faith or Subaru and Seishirou, who love each other and want to kill each other, simultaneously or sequentially, and may switch between who's light and who's dark. Characters who change sides. Villains who become heroes. Sidekicks who take over the story and save the day. Unlikely heroes. Characters who totally reinvent themselves through sheer force of will and maybe one person's belief in them. Small acts of kindness that become the turning point of someone's life.
Non-sexual threesomes that balance each other, like the teams in Naruto
or Jin, Mugen, and Fuu in Samurai Champloo
, with optional sexual undercurrents.
Black leather. Boots. Sandals that lace up over the ankles. Moccasins. Cloaks. Katana and rapiers. Uniforms. Clothing that gets progressively ripped up till it's hanging off in tatters. Blood spatters from minor injuries. The intimacy of letting another person handle your glasses, or some other object that's precious and necessary to you. "My sword is my soul." Characters taking off physical objects that symbolize their protection-- armor, their weapons, their magic talisman-- to get physically intimate with each other. One character caring for another who's sick or injured. One person carrying another, or helping the other walk.
Dragons. Forests. Living in the wilderness, with detailed accounts of hunting and gathering. Surviving in dangerous terrain. Realisically depicted animals. "Secret gardens"-- the private places that children find, fix up, love, and transform and are transformed by. Autumn leaves. Moss. Creeks and streams running through woodlands.
Mutants. People with psychic powers, especially if they're kids. Blacksmiths. Warriors. Scholars. Acrobats. Martial artists. Duellists. Doctors. Scientists in early times or post-apocalypse, when everything must be re-discovered. Athletes. Messengers. Spies. Pilots. Librarians and archivists. Travellers. Ninjas. Heroes with utterly mundane day jobs. Teachers and students. Apprentices. The poignance and joy of a student surpassing the master.
Detailed descriptions of work, like Dick Francis does so well. Characters who love their jobs.
Old forts. Ancient machinery that still works, but is dangerous and unpredictable because no one knows any more how to operate it or what it was originally supposed to do. Journeys. Road trips. Portals or other forms of transportation that will take you somewhere, but you don't know where till you arrive. Buried cities. Fantastical cities like P. C. Hodgell's Tai-Tastigon. Loving, vivid, non-stereotypical depictions of real cities. Japan. India. Los Angeles and New York City. Closely observed depictions of natural surroundings. Magic libraries.
Loving descriptions of delicious food. Funny descriptions of awful food. Sharing the same glass or food.
Swordfights. Fights that are really sparring matches, where characters are beating on each other for the mutual joy of the battle.
Going down fighting. Last stands. "It's a good day to die."
Words written on the body. Scars. Beautiful tattoos. Conversations in bed about the stories inscribed on the body in the form of scars or tattoos or muscles or sore spots. The marks of the work you do on your hands.
Characters who are incredibly competent in some ways and total dorks in others. Characters who find human interactions strange and puzzling.
Dangerous people who are gentle with you. Killers and warriors who find themselves protecting a child.