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When a good trope goes bad

Discussion in 'Tea Room (Book Chat)' started by Cece, August 8, 2018.

  1. Cece

    Cece New Member

    Arguably, every story utilizes tropes to some extent. Sometimes, one story will use a trope very well and the next will use that same trope and it falls flat.

    What do you think makes tropes fail sometimes? Is it an overreliance on the trope that results in less character and/or plot development? Is it when there are too many tropes or the wrong combination of them that lead to the story being too predictable or the characters too boring? Or does it just come down to poor writing?
  2. Tregaron

    Tregaron Member

    I think the problem is that tropes are something that should occur naturally in the course of the story, growing from character and plot. When multiple stories have the same style of events, that is when it becomes a trope.

    When an author forces the plot or characters to perform the trope when it does not fit them and does not go with the story's flow naturally, that is when it falls flat. Rather than trying to write to fit a trope into a story, let the characters perform as they will and tropes that arise will do so naturally.
  3. Tropes come in an assortment of different types, but the ones that are easily fixed are those cliched metaphors and similes. When an author doesn't take the time to freshen those, I lose patience. Interestingly enough, stories riddled with these types of tropes often have the stereotypical characters and the predictable plots. I guess I'd lay the blame of the unsuccessful trope on lazy writing. Now I'm off to see if I've fallen into the Valley of Tropes on my latest WIP. Good question.
  4. Kindler

    Kindler Active Member

    I have no problems with tropes if they are used wisely and appropriately. They can help shorten the amount of time required to get a reader up to speed on a character or situation. But lazy tropes where they take the place of plot or characterisation, are just plain annoying and doing everyone a disservice.
  5. Gemini

    Gemini Member

    I think it comes down to lazy writing at the end of the day. Tropes are great when they're used correctly. I think you can use as many tropes as you want so long as the author doesn't rely on them too heavily. Like Tregaron said, as long as it's an organic piece of the story and not forced on it, I think you're probably good to go. Well, as long as the author throws in a few twists and turns along the way. I don't mind if the end is predictable, like a Hero's Journey, but I don't want the whole book to be.
  6. Cece

    Cece New Member

    I've read a few books where the tropes were far too forced, so I'm with you on that. Sometimes I think that authors form their characters around a trope but then end up with characters who don't really fit the criteria. They still have them act like their trope though...or try to.

    Cliched metaphors and similes can be annoying. I don't mind them so much when they're used in dialogue and it's in character for the speaker but they should still be used sparingly. Does it annoy you when it happens just a couple of times or is that okay with you?

    That's an interesting connection I hadn't thought of. That makes a good case for lazy writing being the cause. I hope you haven't fallen in there!

    Agreed. Some tropes are easier to execute than others, so long as the author has a good understanding of the trope and knows how to make it fit the story/characters. It seems like lazy writing wins again.

    I think the last thing you mentioned is a big pitfall. I don't read books just to know how they end. I'd read the summary somewhere if that was the case. The journey needs to be just as exciting - if not more so - than the final destination. (Too trope-y?)
  7. PageTurner

    PageTurner Member

    I don't know...it really depends on the trope for me. Character tropes tend to annoy me more than anything else. I think they irritate me the most because they're the ones you have to deal with the entire story (assuming it's one of the bigger characters). It's also easy for an author to rely too heavily on the trope without adding in much that makes them unique.
  8. Angel

    Angel Munificent Critic

    For characters, I heard it being described as tropes vs archetypes. A good writer will take the archetype and make a character based on it but with their own personality. A lazy writer will take the character trope and let it do all the heavy lifting through the story.
  9. Zelda

    Zelda Member

    I've never thought of it that way. What exactly is the difference between an archetype and a trope? Is the archetype more of a framework while the trope is like a pre-made character? Could this be applied to other tropes besides characters?

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