Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday Tropes: My Car Hates Me


You're being chased by monsters and your SUV is just ahead - a good place to start for some protection. Once inside, you lock the door, get the keys out, and ram them into the ignition, but today, of all days, the engine won't start. Should'ah had that checkup ...

My Car Hates Me - when a vehicle suddenly decides to not work, or fails to turn on completely. This usually only happens when your life depends on it. This can apply to any vehicle, even with a Flux capacitor ...

Talk about getting "fuming" mad!

I'm sure any show or movie you've seen where a vehicle is iconic or treated like a character implements this trope once or twice, but how often does it appear in literature? Quite a few times, apparently. Stephen King actually wrote a novel that revolved around this premise.

And what about the turquoise Ford Anglia made famous in that one novel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which was mostly reliable until the most inopportune moments? If the car can fly, the least it can do is not crash land you into a Whomping Willow. Can't argue that was a fun scene, though.


Again, this can apply to any vehicle, even of the flying or deep-space traveling variety, so long as general upkeep and maintenance isn't applied. Solo should've known better ...



Has a car or other vehicle given your characters problems in your writing? Has this happened to for reals? It did to me, yesterday!

I'm David, and for Clue #5, give your car(s) a complete tune-up!

30 comments:

  1. Haven't had a Cosbolt stall yet, although I've drained the teleporter a few times.

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  2. My car refused to start yesterday morning, when I got in it at 4.45am to go to work. I had to wait an hour and a half for my mum to get up and take me in (she works at the same place, and was due in two hours later than me) and then I had to get a lift home. Thankfully, it started when I tried a few tricks with it yesterday afternoon!
    It's working fine now, but I don't know how long that'll last! Hopefully it'll hold out until I get it serviced in January.

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  3. That has happened often enough in real life. There was one time around Christmas where I had a tire blow out on the highway but fortunately some people had Christmas spirit enough to give me a ride into town--this being before we had cell phones everywhere.

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  4. What a great idea! I never thought about the car being an issue. ;) Thanks David!

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  5. Oh yes, I have had this happen in real life. One memorable vacation a tire fell off our boat trailer and started a grass fire. And yes, I put things like that in my writing becasue they are too great not share!

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  7. Thanks for all the clues, David. These are great posts. Better get that needed car check up before the end nears...

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  8. Yesterday my car pooped out on me. Thankfully there were no zombies following me, or Storm Troopers out to get me. So I made it out safe and sound.

    I love when things like that happen, it's throwing a wrench in the heroes plans. Makes them work for the escape. :)

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  9. Like the car things in fiction based on real life events. Of course, it can all get embellished to add to the danger!!!

    Monti
    Mary Montague Sikes

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  10. My present car is thirteen years old and has started every time without fail for all of those thirteen years.

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  11. I had a car (van) blow up while I was driving it. Does that count?

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    1. Absolutely! Kind of reminds me of the "Every Car Is A Pinto" trope, too. :)

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  12. Not to mention Herbie, who would act on all kinds of mischief to achieve his ends. I think my Toyota from 1992 (or as we call it, the tuna can) may be a little possessed.

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  13. What's life is not a box of car batteries... you never know when one is going to drain, but it will, it will, I say!!!

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  14. I've never used it in a book but it happens all the time in real life. I have some sort of talent for making cars and electronics stop working. If Hubby is called in to fix anything the first thing he does is ask me to step away. Then,it usually works fine.

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  15. I have a theory. since the driver is in panic, he/she steps too hard on the pedal and chokes the engine. That's why they fail. My other theory is that there are some people with such a gremlin vibe that jam everything they touch. Whenever mother dragon steps near anything electric, it fails.

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  16. Being the only person in my circle of friends with a car on campus my Freshman year of college had amazing benefits. Until that one day when you NEED to go somewhere...and you realize you left the lights on...six weeks ago. Wah wah wah.

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  17. I haven't really had any car capers in my stories!!!

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  18. Since I write fantasy set in medieval time frame I don't have the car issues. It does get used a lot in horror.

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  19. Ah, yes. I had a similar situation in Strength. As for real life, whew! Too many times to count. My car has been on fire, home to unwanted snakes, filled with confetti, knocked down a hill, duct-taped together...

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  20. I've had more car problems over the years than any normal person should have to deal with. I have had not one. Not two. But THREE cars burn up in a fire. (Don't even ask) more breakdowns than I can count etc...etc...

    Unlike in life, my characters haven't had that problem. BUT, in reading this blog post, I realized they should. There's this one chase scene where the car gets totally beat to crap. And they make it off the road and buy a new one. WHAT was I thinking? The damn car has to break down. It would make for a WAY more dynamic scene.

    Here I am, just catching up on my blogging and I stumble across this awesome idea. THANKS! You never know where you'll find inspiration, right?

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  21. As a King fanatic, it seems only appropriate that I've owned at least one possessed automobile. Prior to my current car, which was purchased brand new, my last one that I traded in was a little bright green VW GTi that I named "Christine The Green Machine". She had issues. Sometimes the turn signal noise would start clicking for no reason, but the light didn't actually blink. Sometimes the windshield wipers would come on by themselves. Sometimes the radio would shut off or turn on for no reason. But, man, did I LOVE that car. And I'd still have her today if I hadn't been forced to upgrade to a 4 door "family" car. I've never written about her... but thanks to you, I just might! :-)

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  22. I agree, cars (and R.V.'s) hate us. Our RV went haywire when we were in Laughlin, without A.C., and it was 119 degrees!

    My character is only 11, so no car woes for her.

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  23. Yeah, I've encountered scenarios before where my car was playing hard-to-get....that's interesting you'd mention the car as a character. In my last WIP, there were a few scenes where the car took on a personality to reflect the mood of the scene. Hadn't thought of it that way before.

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  24. Cars. They just don't make them like they used to.

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  25. i love the harry potter car, its great at the right time!
    this reminded me of stephanie plum's cars, always exploding!

    and ew, but cool rendition of alex-borg!

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  26. The anticipation of the car breaking down or running out of gas is the worst! I seem to remember they did that a lot in season 1 of the Walking Dead.

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  27. Not just cars though. Any inanimate object can be a character if it's got just the right personality. :) Mine is a homicidal mountain. In a sense.

    Lauren

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