I have to admit, I like gender-flipping standard genre tropes. BRASS STARS had a female gunslinger with a gigolo companion and the last man in a family fighting to save what remained of the ranch. What's really awesome is seeing how the gender-changes reflect and challenge the original trope. Because Tashn is certainly a no-nonsense-I'll-take-care-of-this-myself kind of woman, but she's not just Clint Eastwood with boobs.
This past week I started work on a short-ish story that features a Valkyrie-like space Marine (female) and a shy science tech who secretly has a crush on said Marine (male). I won't claim it's the first time this trope has been tweaked (McMaster-Bujold has had a lot of fun with her diminutive MC Miles Vorkosigan and his various lovers), but it's so very interesting to explore what happens when characters are written against the grain of gender and sexuality type.
I've also been working hard at the new Spider-thief story, but there are a lot of moving parts in the middle of the story and it's been difficult to work them out.
And because real-life stress is intense right now.
But words are being written and stories are taking shape. It's important to note that I'm not doing any of this as a rant against the (sometimes) stale world of SF/F/H. Nor am I doing it to rile anyone else who feels like SF/F/H should remain exactly as they have since Jules Verne first set pen to paper. (I know, he's not the first SF author, but he's the first whose name I can remember at this point.) But I really like to challenge myself. I like to learn how to do new things with words. I like to find new characters hidden deep in the morass of my subconscious - that accumulation of all the things I see and hear and think about every day, but haven't processed in a formal manner.
That's where tropes are so damn handy, because I can examine what has worked and figure out the bones of it, then spend my days putting new flesh on them. And, maybe, learning something useful in the process.