Conservative Fiction Plot Tropes, or Need Some Ideas?

Like every other kind of fiction, conservative fiction is already developing certain common tropes. If you’re having trouble recognizing what conservative fiction is OR if you are groping for a great story idea, try playing around with some of these. You’re welcome to add more tropes in the comments.

Environmentalism versus science. In Poul Anderson’s classic Orion Shall Rise, a post-nuclear war world government has outlawed all forms of energy and technology that are not “green”. Anderson first published this in 1983, but the idea of environmentalists outlawing technology advanced enough to get to the stars may be more timely now than it was then.

Capitalism versus socialism. The classic Orwell novel 1984 was themed around totalitarianism, and was so impactful as to add “orwellian” to the dictionary for totalitarian actions like censorship and (another one) memory-holing. When writing about doublespeak (huh, yet another) in your novel, you’re using Orwellian concepts.

But that’s neither capitalist nor socialist, even though both sides equate the other with totalitarianism. Small-scale capitalism tends to be libertarian, AND so does small-scale socialism (as with hippie communes and Israeli kibbitzim.) Only on large scales does either benefit from totalitarianism, which requires a high level of jack-booted thuggism and minute control over people in order to function properly.

If you’re doing C v S, dig deeper. Use the psychological magic of your story to examine how BOTH systems benefit from totalitarianism and libertarianism, and how BOTH can be conservative or progressive. No one can outdo Orwell on totalitarianism, but good conservative and conservatarian writers can ask the right questions in their stories to do a great job of exploring how capitalism and socialism influence different story scenarios.

A great fiction book about capitalism, not a permutation on an Orwellian theme, is Garet Garrett’s “The Driver”, which followed the rise of a businessman not unlike Donald Trump in many ways. Garrett, a journalist who was well-known in his day, wrote several books of fiction and nonfiction and was one of the most prominent opponents of the New Deal. If you compare his fiction with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s several books on businessmen of the same time, you will find a number of pertinent and interesting differences, the most notable of which is Garrett’s tendency to praise capitalism while Fitzgerald condemns it – or at least its princes. Horatio Algiers’ somewhat dated books and Ayn Rand’s fiction are also good idea sources.

Mises Institute’s website has a number of Garrett’s hard-to-find books in PDF form for free.

The clash of the sexes, with varying permutations and outcomes. An enormous difference between contemporary mainstream fiction and conservative fiction in dealing with this topic is that in conservative fiction, the writer actually respects masculinity and the men who possess it. However, even conservative fiction tends to be uncomfortable in any M/F relationship that is not romantic or sexual.

Oh, I could say SO much about this topic, but I’ll just hit some high points both in how liberals address the issue and in how Conservative writers could address it. For the most part, only romance fiction and some women’s fiction even try to address this topic in any developed fashion. Note: I’m using some romance fiction industry terms here, but I think they are pretty self- explanatory.

○ The earliest book I recollect that used the Magical Vagina to school the Patriarchal Jerk in the gentle arts of social justice was Middlemarch by George Eliot, back in the middle Victorian era.

○ Most classic romances post-bodice ripper period treat men as actual Equals to women, not the Evil Other or the rapist-to-be-reformed. However, after only a short period they started being Woke, and not in a good way.

○ Contemporary romance is edging ever closer to treating men as the Evil Other, unless he is Woke – that is to say, a beta male. Historical romance is better, but in both cases the Woke Alpha Hero is becoming less and less believable as a realistic human being.

○ Few books outside of romance seem to understand how to treat an actual equitable male/female relationship, particularly a friendship. There is always an edge to it. Male writers often write lesbian female characters when they need a male friendship with a woman that can’t be a romance. Female writers kinda don’t address it; men are treated as The Other, for the most part, or as a beta, or as a potential love interest (in The Hunger Games, for instance, any male character that befriended the female lead was in love with her.)

However, a really great M/F non sexual relationship exists in at least one prominent franchise. Natasha Romanov, Black Widow in the Avengers movie and comics, is very good friends with Hawkeye (and his family) and Captain America. While at first it seemed that there was some sexual tension – nope. Want to spoke the idiotic war of the sexes? Write more stories like that.

The Good President. Meh. This trope comes off as SOOO preachy, just like it did in the leftist “West Wing” TV series. It CAN be done, and I’d look to Garrett’s books referenced above as well as political fiction, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan books, and other conservative political fiction for templates, but unless you have a very good insider’s understanding about how Washington political sausage is made, it’s probably not going to be good.

The misguided SJW. Done well, this is a lot of fun. I have one right now in progress – the villain is a trust fund-rich SJW who wants to Save The Alaskan Wolf, and will literally do anything in support of that goal. Humans mean less to her than this often-problematic canine that is sometimes legally hunted from helicopters, and for good reasons.

Essentially, what you’re looking for is an SJW with a mission: to heal the earth, stop global warming, save the whales, stop police abuse of minorities, eliminate poverty, stop fracking, stop ANWR drilling – you get the idea. Whether that goal is achievable is secondary to the SJW having a mission. In fact, the SJW can even have the same mission a Conservative might agree with. The really important thing is that the SJW go about attaining his goal using ass-backward means. Bomb the pipeline, shoot the cops, cast a spell empowering the whales to fight back with laser beams, whatever. (It’s funny how SJWs forget about that whole nonviolent thing when engaging in their pet causes.)

The fun part is showing your pragmatic conservative hero fighting back against the SJW WHILE FOLLOWING THE RULES. In other words, a thorough rejection of the SJW idea that the ends justify the means. Or, put another way, we can beat you with half our brains tied behind our backs.

That conflict should form the basis for the central plot.

History repeats itself. In this trope, conservative Cassandras, like Jeff Goldblum’s character in Independence Day, warn about dire consequences of things happening “just like they did in 19xx.” It can focus on Stalinism, the various idiocies that led to the tragedy of World Wars I and II, or even things like slavery, the Salem Witch Trials, or Hannibal’s invasion of Rome. Handled with care, this can be a good subplot, but books that are All About Prediction tend to come off as preachy – and you will wind up preaching only to the choir (The science fiction movie Independence Day was saved from a preachy-fail by being a whole lot of fun.) Often, prepper fiction (see Apocalypse below) finds itself in this category, but their saving grace is that a big part of prepper fiction is the prepping-for-survival part, which is actually educational. Still does not make for deathless prose.

The developing Antichrist-like charismatic politician. This one, unfortunately, has been overdone, or at least all the low-hanging fruit has been plucked. Unless you have a truly unique take on this trope, it’s probably better to avoid it.

The mysterious-ish Apocalypse. Also known (to me) as prepper fanfic (please don’t get offended, Prepper Writers, it’s not meant in a negative way – just an easy way to remember it!) this sort of story bolsters the idea of prepping and preparedness by fictionally rehearsing what would happen if nuclear bombs were dropped on America, if there was a sudden (or not-so-sudden) Islamic invasion, or if government incompetence finally caught up with us. I’ve even seen a pretty good one centered around the national debt finally causing a massive crash, with the United States being plunged into a horrifying depression to end all depressions. These may focus on dystopias or the reformation of a world order hundreds of years in the future, but generally they are closer in time to today.

One I’d love to see: The Handmaid’s Tale done from the perspective of a young SJW feminist in a United States or other Western nation that has been taken over by Islamic – not Christian – fundamentalists. That would just be a ball to read, and certainly more plausible than Atwood’s feminist Jeremiad. Certainly it would put the blame for women’s oppression on a much more sensible target: culturally embedded Muslim misogyny.

There are, I’m certain, many others, and these are just some ideas from the top of my head, but even this collection allows for some fun story concepts. Mix and match them. One of my WIPs blends two, and I’ve seen three or four of them mixed together to create some genuinely fresh and original stories. Even one of these at the center of a story, however, will feel fresh because these are not the stories the liberal publishing industry is telling.

One thing to remember: if you’re going to start from a conservative fiction angle, you should aim for the idea that would most piss off your most liberal friend, and continue in that direction. When you’re catching all kinds of flak, you are most likely over the correct target.

About Jamie

Jamie is a conservative writer from Kentucky, but lives wherever the whims of the Navy take her husband. She is also the mother of five - count 'em - children, all of them above average.
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