I have a deep-seated hatred for certain tropes and a special way to deal with them. Now, this is a loooong demonstration.
I have serpent men in my setting. Note though, the correct term is lizard people, as they clearly resemble monitors, several of which are mildly venomous, but not everyone knows that.
Just like in a certain book, these serpent men are capable of disguising themselves as humans and are infiltrating society.
They aren't present in large numbers, as that makes secrecy more difficult. Probably the most notable one is a serpent woman (?), disguised as a healer, complete with a fake identity.
Though she isn't a member of the royal court because no one trusts their own court, especially not the advisor, her services are frequently requested. Since most coups weren't spearheaded by general practitioners, no one expects the strange, introverted lady to be planning anything against them.
She also has a flame-bladed dagger. The undulating edge is mostly decorative with no occult meaning, but it helps a little when slicing up vegetables and dissipating vibrations from a sword strike.
Her job isn't to tear apart human society from within and top to bottom, but to report on the military activities of humans to the city of Node.
Oh yes, the city. While most of the serpent men's cities are abandoned, some aren't. Though they look ancient and mysterious to barbarians, many parts of these cities are nearly identical to modern ones, with the general tendencies favoring the concentric zone and the sector models. There are cheap, mass-produced apartments, the railways and sewage systems.
While the cult of an Old One, Yig, still exists, his worshipers are rather casual and it's more of a habit than true dedication (the same can be said about Yig's dedication to their followers). This also goes for ancient tech that was used to build their cities. Node is growing more and more disillusioned with the current leader's policies, believing him and his operations to recover even more lost tech to be nothing but chasing ghosts.
This bleak outlook isn't surprising, they can barely maintain their own city and it's only a matter of time before humans find out about Node's existence. Serpent men are low in numbers and their defenses rely completely on decoys and a few blast doors, neither of which would stop an army.
I think you can see it in the text that most parts of this description are framed as a hated trope, the refutation of that trope and the reasoning for it.
- Instead of diabolical cults, there are only a handful of cultural references and idioms.
- Instead of a scary eldritch abomination, you have a lazy Old One that doesn't really reward nor punish you.
- Instead of having an entire political system overtaken by reptilians, you have a herbalist who spies on important figures and reports back to HQ.
- Instead of an underground civilization that's plotting to take over the world, you have a crumbling city that struggles to maintain itself.
- Instead of mindless cannon fodder, you have scared and bitter people (as in not just males, but females and younglings too) who, while not exactly friendly towards humans, do care about each other and are, indeed, capable of feeling love and compassion.
See, while this usually turns out good, it somehow feels weird. Also, there's Luke Skywalker from The Last Jedi.
When viewed through my lens, a lot of his aspects are understandable.
- Who wouldn't be bitter after everything they worked for was piped into /dev/null by J.J Abrams?
- Who wouldn't be scared of making the same mistake twice?
- Who could go through their life (except for Diavolo) without ever failing or finding themselves overpowered? It's stupid and was stupid to think a single person could turn the tide of a war.
Now there are two things I'm afraid will happen to me that happened to TLJ and what caused the "Did it subvert your expectations?!" conundrum.
- People think my rage over chainmail bikinis and always-chaotic-evil races is a bit of an overreaction because it's just a story.
IT'S NOT AN OVERREACTION! THEY'RE HERETIC, DETESTABLE, MORALLY REPREHENSIBLE CONCEPTS! IF I WAS DYING OF TERMINAL FORTNITE AND THANOS SAID TO ME HE'D MAKE ONE OF MY WISHES COME TRUE, IT'D BE TO ERASE THESE TROPES FROM THE CULTURAL HIVEMIND.
- Dragging all my hated tropes through the mud could create anomalies. For instance, if being a scantly clad amazon in my setting is a surefire way of getting killed (either by a flamethrower or Eliot Rodger), why'd there be any? The problem is these anomalies aren't always that apparent.
When writing things like background stories, lore or character bios out of spite, what should I avoid?