Friday, October 12, 2018

Using Tropes Successfully

I have seen a lot of writers lately who, I do believe, is missing the mark on this. I am talking about the use of tropes in writing. What I am seeing is a complete misinterpretation of the actual concept. Writers seem to be heading in the direction of utilizing common plot lines and not tropes.

Let's first begin with a basic definition of tropes. These are simply repeating literary motifs or ideas in your writing. In romance, for example, these can be ideas of secret babies, upstairs/downstairs themes and so forth. Authors will use these ideas to build plots around. And, it is this second part that I want to stress.

Using tropes successfully is to build the plot around the trope. You don't use tropes AS the plot! These are elements and ideas that shape your story.

Let's take the idea of the Cinderella trope. This is a basic rags to riches story. This is one of those where the character is often start off in a lower social class and move up in society. The idea here is to show the uncomfortable things that characters is going to have to go through, just to get established. It also deals with the idea of how others see the characters. So, does this mean that you should have a story about a girl going to a ball? No. Should this be a girl who is now living in or with a family that sees her as an outsider and is treated poorly? No! In this case, an author going to this level is simply copying the classic Cinderella story line and not the trope.

Another example is the beauty and the beast trope. If you do this correctly, it is just one character having to see another character for who they are, not what they put out there for the public to see. Shakespeare did this with Taming of the Shrew. It doesn't have to be to the full level of the entire plot. Just find elements that work.

So, what is the take away here? Quit using the whole plot. You will also find that your stories will probably be seen my those editors and agents as original and not simply a copy of some other writer's story.

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