Tropes – Part One


You’ve probably heard this word thrown around the web for sometime now – themes and motifs – things written into a story that are now familiar to the audience and easily recognized. They are a recipe needed for writing a cohesive and comprehensive story.

But if you are the internet, it’s a bad thing.

The word is beginning to develop a stigma about it. People complain now that “it’s been done” or “we’ve seen this before” and do not want to see it again. Trope is now becoming synonymous with “cliché” and “stereotype.” And now for writers, authors, musicians and developers, this word beckons those creative types to come up with something new and fresh for the audience by those who just seem to be bored with just about everything.

Fellow monkey feeders, you really need to understand that IT HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE. If you do not believe, then just look at things like Star Wars which has tropes from World War II movies, Lord of the Rings, and even certain religions. And I can definitely tell you that LOTR has tropes from Beowulf and other old Nordic tales.

I find writers in my day-to-day forums asking for “permission” to write something, or if “it has been done before.” I’m going to take the audacity by saying this:

A good writer does not need permission to write their story.

Leave it for editors, publishers and (cough) censors to limit your work. I mean, yeah it’s ok to get advice, but you should not have to ask about something UNLESS it involves some form of copyright. And even then, Google search is still available to the public.

Here’ s a solution that I propose: take two tropes and mix them together. Think of your elevator pitch when beginning to write: use one trope to introduce your story, then the second to mix it up and create the conflict needed in your work. Things like Divergent, Star Wars, and numerous musical genres have done this. And you can too.

Also, a trope alone does not make for a good story. Ronald D. Moore once said to himself “It’s about character, stupid.” If that epiphany did not hit him, then the remade series Battlestar Galactica would have never been made from start to finish which much success.

Why? Because it was already done. The characters evolved, thus making the plot develop as it went. This is a story. It journeys on, and the people like it.


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