Writers Need Tropes

In the age of the internet, tropes get a bad rap. Tropes are often conflated with the word ‘cliché’. Whilst overused tropes can BECOME clichéd, all writing needs tropes.

A common example of trope is ‘the ticking clock.’ Thrillers may use this trope in the form of a deadline, the arrival of reinforcements, or something else the characters have to fight for. The timer puts extra pressure on the protagonists and ramps up the suspense in the story. (To see more examples of every trope ever written, you can check out the comprehensive site, TV Tropes).

So, when we talk about writing fiction of any kind, it is important to add tropes in your writing. Here are some excellent reasons why tropes are essential. Ready? Let’s go!

Why Tropes Are So Important

1) Boosts excitement

A major component of being a successful writer is understanding psychology. The most powerful and exciting areas of psychology deal with excitement. How can story writers boost excitement among people? The answer is simple; by using tropes.

Tropes are tools  that help the reader to create an image in his or her mind. It produces artistic effects on the reader’s sense of excitement. There were a lot of tropes on magical school before J.K. Rowling gave us Hogwarts. What she brought forward was recognisable but also her original take, which made the audience excited and enjoy it even more.

2) Creates Catharsis

Reading a good story is like living a new and different life. Readers spend a lot of money and time buying books, which sometimes end up in the TBR pile. Lots of movies and TV shows get added to the Netflix queue, yet are never watched. Noooo!

A writer often lingers over the pure physical size of a character in literary genres that prioritize violent conflict. This demonstrates not only their potential strength but also their willingness to use aggression. Just take a look at the Mountain in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, or Ursula from The Little Mermaid.

It’s also no accident literal violence and threat are prioritised in many stories. Whilst this unfortunately happens in many people’s real lives, these tropes also present opportunities for powerful catharsis. This is why crime fiction novels are so popular with some women who have unfortunately had to deal with it in real life.

3) Becomes Iconic

The minute you see a boy running around with a cape in the neighborhood, you instantly recognize that he is pretending to be a superhero. How did you recognise that trope? As The Incredibles told us, it’s really a bad idea to put a thick, sticking fabric around your neck and then get into a fight!

But the cape has been the iconic superhero costume since the start of Superman and Batman after the 1930s. A good trope becomes an icon, and readers relate it to their role models. This is all because of a good trope: an ordinary plot element, a theme, or a visual key that conveys something ‘beyond’ the story.

4) Conventional expectations

Why are tropes so widely used? Well, they help in distinguishing an recognizing all kinds of story. Romantic genre is founded on passion, ‘love at first sight’, ‘happily ever after’ and rivalry tropes. This familiarity are what readers and audiences sign up for. This eliminates the need for further clarification as readers already get it.

5) Appeals to inquisitiveness

In the end, all tropes narrow down to one point: will the reader or viewer read or watch until the end? Well, if you ask me if a trope is unique but relatable in its own way, then yes. A good trope plays a vital role in keeping the audience’s desire to complete the story and appeals to their natural inquisitiveness.

Grab Their Attention!

So when it comes to tropes, if you are writing your own novel or screenplay, remember to ensure the following points …

i) Uniqueness

Each writer tries to write a unique story. We also must understand that it is essential to avoid stereotyping.

But for the sake of familiarity, there are also ways of telling a story. Remember, ‘the same … but DIFFERENT.’ Readers want tropes, but they also want a new story, whether it is a fairytale retelling or the boy next door, or a classic mystery.

ii) Relatability

Another point to keep in mind while using tropes in story writing is by making sure it is relatable. Some tropes have been around a long time. A writer must relate his story to the current time frame and remember who the target audience is.

iii) Subvert

The audience loves it when their expectations are subverted. By controlling tropes in a genre, a writer decides whether his valuable work will live or die. That’s why selecting a trope for your genre is very important in story writing. But you must keep an eye out for the tropes that are overly used.

Concluding …

Remember, tropes are not automatically bad! Readers and audiences love tropes that subvert our expectations. Rhey only hate the ones that are overused and feel stale.

Tropes are being used time and time again because they talk to us profoundly and relate to our thoughts, feelings, fears, and dreams. Tropes also help create the conventions and style of the genres and stories we love.

Good Luck!

BIO: Stella Lincoln is a book lover and researcher of what makes excellent writing. She is currently working as a Scriptwriter and blogger at Academist Help. Stella inscribes passionately about writing, literature, and language. She loves to give feedback and share new ideas with other authors.

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