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In Defense of Writing Tropes

Do you love them, or despise them?

Are you using them to your advantage?

Have you ever felt barred from them?

  • To ignore a trope could be to “question your readers’ intelligence.”
  • To perpetuate a negative trope could be to “side with the oppressor.”
  • To uphold a positive trope could be to “restore faith in humanity.”

Tropes are a means of communication.

We need tropes.

Both as writers and readers. There can be no such thing as an original idea without first understanding—and utilizing to your advantage!—the ideas that have already been done and that already exist in your readers’ minds.

Some of my favorites are:

  • Enemies to Lovers or Friends
  • Misunderstood/Anti-Villains
  • HEA/HFN endings
  • Anti-Heroes (ex: Zuko from ATLA)

“What are some of your favorite tropes?”

“What are some you usually despise?”

“What are some you have yet to witness being done ‘right’?”

Tropes can be powerful and beloved.

Enemies to Lovers.
“The only safe and sure way to destroy your enemy is to make them your friend –> lover!” (Ooh, the tension!!! *fans self*)
Misunderstood Villains.
When heroes are the only ones who make sense and have redeemable qualities, it can make the narrative feel rigid and one-sided.
HEA/HFN ending.
Certain genres include specific tropes so often that to NOT include them can leave readers feeling cheated. Ex 1: True love’s kiss in fairy tales. Ex 2: Singing in Disney princess films (looking at you, Raya and Brave).

Tropes can be toxic and uncomfortable.

Enemies to Lovers.
This can get very toxic very fast because it can venture into the realm of ignoring one’s own intuition about the red flags another person is exhibiting (conflating hate and abuse with love/lust).
Misunderstood Villains.
There is a very fine line between giving your villain a complex past vs. EXCUSING THAT VILLAIN from taking any responsibility for the wrongs they have done. Past ≠ Excuse

HEA/HFN ending.
Certain genres have historically denied the positive tropes associated with them from marginalized communities. Ex: Being denied happy, romantic endings.

Still, tropes can be subverted.

Originality can come from (a) adding a new layer of depth to a trope, (b) debunking a harmful trope, (c) reclaiming a trope for an underrepresented/marginalized identity, and more. Examples:

  • (a) Cinderella is Dead: Dystopian, Post-HEA storyline
  • (b) Kung Fu Panda: Making yourself the chosen one
  • (c) Get a Life, Chloe Brown: The heroine in this romance is a plus-sized, Black woman with fibromyalgia.

In conclusion: Tropes can make or break your story.

So, be aware of the ones at play within your novel, script, short story, poem, etc.

They can appear consciously AND unconsciously. Intentionally AND unintentionally. So, if you ever need help identifying them, or just a second opinion, you can reach out to me for my reading services or even a few simple email exchanges to discuss. Whatever is the most helpful to you.

Good luck with writing today!

I’m wishing your career a happily ever after ending—and beginning!

~*~

If you’re seeking an editor, professional reader, or consultant…

I offer a number of services for all types of works and genres, so please feel more than welcome to reach out and find out if we’d made a great fit for your journey. I have over nine years’ experience in editorial work for fiction and nonfiction, including projects with HarperCollins, Macmillan, Cengage, Nyx Publishing, and other publishers and literary agents from all over the world.

Happy writing and revising!

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