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What Is Writer's Block And How ... What Is Writer's Block And How To Overcome It - SelfPublishedWhiz
What Is Writer's Block And How ...
What Is Writer's Block And How To Overcome It - SelfPublishedWhiz
What set your character on their path through the story? Yes, they should have a goal, but why is that goal so important to them? What kind of event is enough to justify telling a whole story about the reaction? A talented author can turn pretty much any event into a justifiable reason to follow a character through to the end, but there are also stock options – easy, tried and tested choices, that have benefits, drawbacks, and perhaps more problems than we realize. One of the most popular of these options is ‘fridging’ a character, but it may be a choice that should be retired from your author’s toolbox.
What is ‘fridging?’
‘Fridging’ is the practice of killing off or hurting a minor character in order to motivate or torture a main character. The term comes from the world of comics, describing an issue of Green Lantern in which the hero’s partner is killed and stuffed in a refrigerator for the protagonist to find. It’s a classic pulp trope, and one that’s incredibly common, as chronicled on Gail Simone’s site Women in Refrigerators, which chronicles its frequency in the media that spawned in.
Fridging offers easy character motivation, but it’s a device with a dark history.Click To Tweet
Generally, ‘fridging’ is used in application to the murdered character – they’re ‘fridged’ or ‘stuffed in the refrigerator’. In terms of specific meaning, fridging generally refers to death (or severe harm) that results not in a specific problem to be solved (like saving the character in question), but in creating or intensifying an antagonistic relationship. Basically, it’s an easy way to make the protagonist hate the antagonist, and this is part of why it has such a negative connotation.
Why should I avoid fridging?
In terms of motivating a protagonist, fridging is a blunt tool poorly suited to more complex stories or characters. It creates an intense antagonism (and a particularly relatable one, especially for traditional masculine sensibilities and self-image) but renders the event itself more or less pointless – the protagonist has been wronged, but the exact form of that wrong only influences the intensity of the assumed feeling.
This is comparable to the MacGuffin in being a part of the story that is more or less pointless. It’s writing that takes the easy way out, and while it can be effective, it doesn’t ask anything of the characters. Their conflict revolves around a moment that can easily feel like an excuse to create that conflict, and the opportunity for character development is eschewed. One of the subtler pieces of advice about a protagonist/antagonist relationship is that each is rendered more interesting if their goal isn’t to simply defeat the other character. That is, protagonist and antagonists are more interesting and more complex when they stand in the way of each other’s mutually exclusive goals, but where they have a greater sense of purpose than beating one person.
The simplistic nature of fridging has also led to many identifying it as a sexist trope. When the specifics of the event don’t matter – only that they traumatize or enrage the protagonist – the character who actually gets fridged becomes an object. The precise nature of their suffering stops mattering, stops being about them, so long as it upsets the protagonist. In a landscape where protagonists and antagonists tend to be male, this creates a situation where a woman’s suffering becomes an incidental moment in a conflict between men, even if that’s not the intention of the author – depictions of death, mutilation, and rape accidentally, purposefully, or carelessly position the man as the victim of these acts and the woman as the vessel through which they’re delivered. Given traditional story structure, this arrangement can even end up positioning a male protagonist’s journey as recovering from damage done to his ‘property’ using violence. When the reader gets this impression, it can turn adrenaline-packed stories into uneasy reads, and even alienate large groups of potential fans.
Fridging isn’t always done to women, but for a variety of reasons, it’s definitely a pattern, and one that can lead to your work being tarred with the same brush as some genuinely ugly work. That said, sometimes fridging, in its rawest state – giving the protagonist an easy, compelling, sympathetic reason to hate the antagonist – is just what a story needs. In those cases, what can you do?
Avoiding unintentional prejudice
When I referred to a female character being depicted as a male protagonist’s ‘property’ above, it was for a specific reason. That reason is that, when we look at how contemporary fiction is pulling away from fridging women, we can see that, in terms of narrative mechanics, that’s the role they were fulfilling.
In the movie John Wick, the premise is simple: the title character is the most capable assassin ever, forced out of retirement to right an unforgivable wrong. It’s exactly the type of story that can best utilize something along the lines of a fridging; pulpy action that isn’t that concerned with digging deep and just needs to give the protagonist a kick out the door.
Unusually, though, the movie seems aware of the drawbacks of fridging, and it goes in a subtly different direction. Wick’s wife is still dead – recently dead, in fact – but that happened before the events of the film. She did, however, buy him a puppy, and it’s the puppy who gets fridged by gangsters in order to set Wick on a journey of revenge.
If a character can be replaced in the narrative by a possession, they’re not a character.Click To Tweet
In the course of their attack, the villains also steal Wick’s car. It’s not the sole motivation for the carnage that follows, but it’s a specific enough act that Wick pursues individual revenge against those who have it, killing multiple people during the opening of John Wick Chapter 2 in a symbolic reclamation. It’s here that the sexism of fridging (seen more starkly in fiction such as Death Wish) is most apparent; when a role traditionally taken by a woman can be filled by a car or pet, that woman wasn’t really being treated as a human (or, at least, her humanity clearly wasn’t relevant).
John Wick doesn’t even stray particularly far from a traditional fridging – the viewer is appalled and sympathetic to the killing of a pet, and even the puppy itself is portrayed as a symbol of Wick’s connection to this wife. There’s even an argument that Wick’s vengeance is his reaction to the larger world killing his wife, though the text of the movie doesn’t explicitly go there.
What John Wick proves is that audiences actively appreciate creators deviating from the fridging norm, and the reasoning is pretty simple; fridging is a great justification for a revenge thriller, it’s an immediate shot of rage and purpose, and if you do it without adding to or drawing from a legacy of sexist decisions, readers get to dodge the attendant guilt and just buy into the thrills. Plus, given the frequency with which women have seen female characters (wives, daughters, sisters, mothers) fridged to give male protagonists some motivation, there’s a genuine sense of gratitude towards writers who deliberately don’t make that choice.
There’s a vocal audience who want pulp fiction without harmful clichés.Click To Tweet
It’s worth noting here that there is a deeply unpleasant tradition of using the rape of a woman to motivate a male character in a way that dehumanizes the actual victim and trivializes a serious real-world issue. Sometimes, this is done by careless authors, but it’s also a trap for the well-meaning, who choose to motivate their characters with this because it’s the worst thing they can imagine. This comes with its problems of focus and intent, but it’s also caught up in what’s now a long, long legacy that adds its own context to new works. If a protagonist is hurt or wronged, most writers communicate that hurt or wrong as something that’s happening to that character. It’s harder and less automatic to do this with other characters because the narrative doesn’t follow them, but authors are well-served to look at whose pain they are accidentally presenting as primarily the protagonist’s problem. With traditionally marginalized groups, it can be better to either restructure the moment or else take care to ensure the character appears as an equal.
Alternatives to fridging
If you must fridge a character, it’s worth reflecting that the traditional sexism of fridging is a constant specter. Is it better to fridge a protagonist’s father than their mother? Their brother rather than their wife? Not in a vacuum, but in an environment where there’s a pattern of killing off female character in a way that encompasses existing prejudices, it’s worth considering. Darren Shan’s Killers of the Dawnkills off Larten Crepsley, the protagonist’s mentor, in an incredibly effective moment that also transitions the hero into a new stage of life. The moment works because Mr. Crepsley is an established character there to do more than just die; his death isn’t just a loss to the protagonist and a sympathetic cue to the reader, but a loss to the world and a tragedy in its own right.
Of course, since the thing the antagonist does is there to enrage the protagonist, it can make more sense to just do it to the protagonist. Getting beaten up, betrayed, or otherwise wronged is, in itself, a compelling motive for vengeance. Richard Stark’s The Hunter details the fallout of its protagonist being betrayed and left for dead by his lover and his partner in crime. Not only does it work just as well as a fridging, but it’s even more gripping to see a character return from personal injury, turning the slight into not just motivation but the start of a physical feat.
That’s not to say that you need to kill or injure someone for this type of effect. You can replace fridging with pretty much any slight, and as an author who can control the entire universe, there are plenty of opportunities to do so. Getting a character arrested or fired – even just leaving them to face the music on their own – can have a similar effect. V from V for Vendetta was imprisoned and experimented on, Miss Havisham was jilted at the altar, David Balfour from Kidnapped was cheated out of his inheritance. All of these motivations tie into who the characters are and how they react – fridging may have a dark history, but it’s also the laziest way to set your hero on their journey. Choosing to dig deeper, to do more with the source of their motivations, will usually leave you with a stronger story.
Fridging is a lazy device – digging deeper will usually leave you with a stronger story.Click To Tweet
Keep out of the fridge
Like any literary convention, fridging has absorbed context with its use, and it’s now a more complex and potentially damaging device than it might appear. Thankfully, it was always a blunt instrument, and authors are free to take the opportunity to explore more integrated and expressive forms of motivation for their characters.
Do you enjoy the simplicity of a quick fridging? Do you have a suggestion for another form of quick but compelling motivation for revenge? Let me know in the comments, and check out How To Avoid Writing A Redshirt Character, Why Writers Like You Need To Know Their Key Event From Their First Plot Point, and Do You Need To Rewrite Your Inciting Incident?for more on this topic.
What is fridging explained? ›
“Fridging”, or “Women in Refrigerators” (WiR), is shorthand for a persistent sexist trope, named after a 1994 Green Lantern comic in which the hero returns home to find that his nemesis, Major Force, has murdered his girlfriend Alexandra DeWitt and stuffed her corpse into a fridge.What is fridging in writing? ›
Character fridging is the use of a secondary or tertiary character as a plot device to motivate a primary character by cause of brutally killing, maiming, or otherwise harming said secondary/tertiary character.What is fridging in film? ›
Fridging in film occurs when a character is killed off, usually early in the film, only to help further the storyline of the main character.What is the fridging trope in comics? ›
“Women in Refrigerators” or “fridging women” is a term coined by Gail Simone, which is used to refer to the disempowerment or maiming of female characters. The origin of the term came from the 1994 comic The Green Lantern #54.What is the origin of fridging? ›
The term “fridging” originated from the violent murder of Alexandra DeWitt in one issue of the DC series “Green Lantern” in which her body was stuffed into a fridge for Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern) to find.Is refrigerating the same as freezing? ›
In the case of refrigeration, the idea is to slow bacterial action to a crawl so that it takes food much longer (perhaps a week or two, rather than half a day) to spoil. In the case of freezing, the idea is to stop bacterial action altogether. Frozen bacteria are completely inactive.What temperature should fridge be? ›
The ideal refrigerator temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These temperatures inhibit the growth of microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses, such as salmonella, listeria, and E.What part of speech is refrigerator? ›
noun countable. UK /rɪˈfrɪdʒəˌreɪtə(r)/What is the function of the refrigerator write about it? ›
The fundamental reason for having a refrigerator is to keep food cold. Cold temperatures help food stay fresh longer. The basic idea behind refrigeration is to slow down the activity of bacte- ria (which all food contains) so that it takes longer for the bacteria to spoil the food.Why do people keep film in the fridge? ›
Humidity speeds up film degradation. Dry storage minimises film degradation. That's right, move the milk and the butter to make room for your precious film. Storing it in the fridge will preserve the film for a lot longer than if it was left at room temperature.
Why would a refrigerator be brought to a crime scene? ›
Storage units become essential during this stage of the chain of custody. Preserving and maintaining evidence collected at a crime scene is crucial. Preserving and maintaining evidence that must be stored cold (below room temperature) to maintain its integrity is even more critical.Is it okay not to store film on fridge? ›
It is not necessary to store films in the fridge, as long as where you're storing them is of a cool enough temperature. However some people prefer to, and feel it keeps their films fresher for longer.What are the 3 types of trope? ›
- Irony: This occurs when words or events convey something different—often the opposite—of their actual meaning. ...
- Oxymoron: This figure of speech uses contradictory words as a paired unit. ...
- Paradox: A paradox is when one uses contradictory ideas to make a valid point.
The first defines trope as a catch-all term for figures of speech that say one thing while artfully and imaginatively implying another. We've explored a lot of these tropes in this very video series: words like metaphor, simile, allegory, synecdoche, and so forth. “Juliet is the sun!” says Romeo.How did people keep meat cold before fridges? ›
Community cooling houses were an integral part of many villages to keep meat, fruit and vegetables stored. At various points in time ice houses were built often underground or as insulated buildings – these were used to store ice and snow sourced during winter, to keep foods cold during the warmer months.What is the American word for fridge? ›
|American English word||British English equivalent|
|Sneakers||Tennis Shoe / Sports Shoe|
|Bubbler||Drinker Water Fountain|
In 1913, American Fred W. Wolf invented the first home electric refrigerator, which featured a refrigeration unit on top of an icebox. Mass production of domestic refrigerators began in 1918 when William C. Durant introduced the first home refrigerator with a self-contained compressor.Why hot things should not be kept in fridge? ›
Dangerous bacterial growth occurs between 41 and 135 degrees F. This spectrum is known as the danger zone for foods. Potentially harmful bacteria grows most rapidly at these temperatures. Placing large batches of hot foods in the fridge can raise the temperature of the fridge into this danger zone.What temperature should not be refrigerated? ›
Keep the refrigerator temperature at or below 40° F (4° C). The freezer temperature should be 0° F (-18° C). Check temperatures periodically. Appliance thermometers are the best way of knowing these temperatures and are generally inexpensive.
Why should you never put hot food in a fridge cold store? ›
A large pot or container of food that is hot should not be placed in the refrigerator or freezer. The hot food can raise the temperature inside the refrigerator/freezer which can be a risk for food already in the appliance.Will food spoil at 50 degrees in refrigerator? ›
If the fridge is still at or below 40 °F, or the food has been above 40 °F for only 2 hours or less, it should be safe to eat.Is 42 degrees OK for refrigerator? ›
The ideal refrigerator temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below in the main part of the fridge. The optimal temperature for keeping foods cold is 37 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're wondering what temperature should a refrigerator be, put a thermometer inside your fridge.Is 37 degrees too cold for a refrigerator? ›
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that you keep your refrigerator temperature at or below 40°F and your freezer temperature at or below 0°F. However, the ideal refrigerator temperature is actually lower. Aim to stay between 35° and 38°F (or 1.7 to 3.3°C).What is the plural of fridge? ›
fridge. plural. fridges. DEFINITIONS1. a piece of equipment that is used for storing food at low temperatures.What part of speech is pink? ›
pink adjective (PALE RED)Is fridge a word or slang? ›
The OED describes “fridge” as a colloquial abbreviation for “refrigerator,” a much older term that showed up in the early 1600s. It suggests that the 'frig' spelling may have been influenced by the brand name “Frigidaire” (a play on “frigid air”).What are the five uses of refrigerator? ›
Refrigerators provide cooling, which is necessary to keep your food fresh and safe. In the summer season, refrigerators also keep your water and other drinks cool so that you can enjoy drinking them to the best. They also have freezers which let you freeze water into ice, which can be used for many other purposes.What are the basic principles of refrigeration? ›
The absorption of the amount of heat necessary for the change of state from a liquid to a vapor by evaporation, and the release of that amount of heat necessary for the change of state from a vapor back to the liquid by condensation are the main principles of the refrigeration process, or cycle.What is the most important uses of the refrigerator? ›
The fundamental reason for having a refrigerator is to keep food cold. Cold temperatures help food stay fresh longer. The basic idea behind refrigeration is to slow down the activity of bacteria (which all food contains) so that it takes longer for the bacteria to spoil the food.
Can you use expired film? ›
So, there's no problem when using expired film and the only thing you have to take into consideration is that you'll need more light than stated. A general rule is to shoot the film one stop slower than box speed for every ten years past the printed expiration date.Is it okay to leave film in a camera? ›
That depends on temperature and humidity. If the camera is in a fridge and sealed, it can stay like that for years; at room temperature, maybe months, if that.Why is hydrogen peroxide stored in a refrigerator? ›
Thus, storing hydrogen peroxide in the refrigerator does two things: It slows thermal decomposition. It prevents photolytic decomposition.What is the common damage of an refrigerator? ›
The three most common reasons for failures that we see as a result of wear & tear are a mechanically locked compressor, failure of the fan motor, and dirty condenser coils. The refrigerator's compressor is the heart of the cooling system; without a working compressor the refrigerator cannot function.How does refrigeration affect food security? ›
Fortunately, refrigeration technology makes it possible to slow or totally inhibit microbial growth and the production of toxins. Development and modernization of a country cannot take place without refrigeration, and refrigeration plays an important role in food safety and health: it has very substantially decreased ...Is a refrigerator hazardous? ›
A refrigerator contains several hazardous chemicals such as CFCs, PVC, and PUR foams as well as mercury in the light bulbs. These should be handled with care. Tools are a potential source of injury.What happens if you don't cover something in the fridge? ›
“If food is left uncovered in a fridge, it will get very dry.” The exception to this rule is any braised item, like short ribs, that has a layer of fat coagulated on top.Should you cover things in the fridge? ›
Store leftovers in airtight containers or cover them to avoid bacterial growth and keep odors from other foods out. Use the top shelf. Store your leftovers on the upper shelves of the fridge, making sure to eat the dishes you refrigerated earliest to avoid food spoilage and waste.How long can film be out of the fridge? ›
When taking your film out of the refrigerator, we recommend allowing it around 2 hours or more to adjust to room temperature before shooting it. In both instances, we recommend that you leave your film in its canister until it has had the chance to adjust to room temperature.Does chilled mean frozen or refrigerated? ›
Refers to food that is thoroughly cooled in a refrigerator compartment, but is not frozen. Proper chilling of food is usually accomplished within a temperature range of 33°F to 42°F.
How long can she stay out of the fridge? ›
Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the "Danger Zone." Never leave food out of refrigeration over 2 hours.What is the refrigerator effect? ›
In the gas cycle, the refrigeration effect is equal to the product of the specific heat of the gas and the rise in temperature of the gas in the low temperature side. Therefore, for the same cooling load, a gas refrigeration cycle needs a large mass flow rate and is bulky.How does a refrigerator cool and freeze? ›
Refrigerators work by causing the refrigerant circulating inside them to change from a liquid into a gas. This process, called evaporation, cools the surrounding area and produces the desired effect. You can test this process for yourself by taking some alcohol and putting a drop or two on your skin.What temp is considered refrigerated? ›
Keep your appliances at the proper temperatures.
Keep the refrigerator temperature at or below 40° F (4° C). The freezer temperature should be 0° F (-18° C).
The ideal refrigerator temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These temperatures inhibit the growth of microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses, such as salmonella, listeria, and E.Do you put cookie dough in the fridge or freezer? ›
Refrigerating the dough allows the flour to fully hydrate and helps to make the cookie dough firmer. Firm dough prevents the cookies from spreading too much, which is why chilling the dough is a crucial step for cut-out and rolled cookies.Does ketchup need to be refrigerated? ›
Ketchup is said to be shelf stable
However, its stability after opening can be affected by storage conditions. We recommend that this product, like any processed food, be refrigerated after opening. Refrigeration will maintain the best product quality after opening" (via Today).
Can you leave pizza sitting out overnight and still munch on it the next day? Registered dietitian Fawziah Saleh, MS, RDN, LD, says that's not a good idea. “Perishable foods like pizza are not safe to eat if left sitting out in room temperature overnight.”Can you eat pasta left out overnight? ›
Rice and pasta can contain bacteria whose spores survive the cooking process. If boiled rice or pasta are left out at 12-14o C for a long time (more than 4-6 hours), it can become extremely dangerous to eat. At this temperature the spore producing bacteria can form heat resistant toxins.How can we improve refrigeration effect? ›
- Reduce refrigeration system lift. ...
- Improve part load system performance. ...
- Upgrade refrigeration system equipment. ...
- Reduce refrigeration loads. ...
- Maintain your refrigeration system equipment.
What are the 4 processes of refrigeration? ›
- Stage 1: Evaporator Coil. Your refrigerant's journey begins at your evaporator coil, which is located inside the indoor unit in your home. ...
- Stage 2: Compressor. ...
- Stage 3: Condenser Coil. ...
- Stage 4: Expansion Chamber.
As shown in the figure, refrigerating effect increases as the evaporating temperature increases for all the investigating refrigerants. This is due to the increase in latent heat value of the refrigerant. A very high latent heat value is de- sirable since the mass flow rate per unit of capacity is less.Why is my refrigerator not cooling but my freezer is fine? ›
Condenser Coils Need Cleaning
Dirty condenser coils are another common reason why your refrigerator won't get cold but the freezer will. The condenser coils are responsible for removing heat from the air inside your refrigerator. If they are covered in dust or debris, they won't be able to expel heat properly.
Even with a superior airflow system, a refrigerator or freezer will be colder at the bottom. Warm air rises, so the upper shelves will always be slightly warmer than the lower portion of the unit.What moves cold air from freezer to fridge? ›
It is standard to find that most refrigerators use a fan to move cold air that is in the freezer into the evaporator. Then that air is pushed into the refrigerator area to keep it at a cool temperature. When this fan is not functioning properly, your freezer may seem fine, but your refrigerator will seem warm.