Unraveling the Uselessness of the Trope (link with comment)

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The question of whether Vance was dead or not became more than academic when he found himself in a bathtub up to his chin in ice water like some forgotten cocktail garnish, a demonic woman standing over him, and no memory of how he got there.
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A malaise threatens the landscape of screenwriting. A dark pretentious cloud of misunderstanding and misdirection, this fiend fogs the minds of would-be Authors and reduces the beauty of subtle complication to clickable buzz words. It’s name? The Trope.

http://narrativefirst.com/articles/unraveling-the-uselessness-of-the-trope

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Within five paragraphs, three of which are definitions of "trope" (I define tropes as the idioms of storytelling), Jim Hull makes this statement:

Yet, in creating this massive glossary of familiar cultural shortcuts TvTropes has done just that–made storytelling dull and uninteresting. They have made the act of writing a story something stock and commonplace. Something banal and imitative.

At which point I see that this isn't an essay, but a rant against the use of tropes. What is irksome about this, at least to me, is that this approach smacks of complaining about the man behind the curtain, the draining away of magic because one can see the mechanism of storytelling, that the process of classification and categorization makes a story mundane and gray with bureaucratitis. While disagreeing with it, I can understand this viewpoint. Having taken up (digital) pen and spun a few yarns myself, I find that I have trouble not seeing (at least some of) the moving parts of a story. I try not to let this ruin my enjoyment of the story, and, in fact, create a new form of pleasure in so far as I can see how the story is being told and appreciate intricacies and power of its development and ultimate unfolding.

The claim that tropes are useless and have no affect on a story is to blind oneself to the power of tropes in establishing a connection with the reader (or viewer, etc.) of the story. Like it or not, the reader will apply their knowledge of a genre, neatly bundled up in a set of tropes, to establish a bond with the story, internalize and make it their own. Better still, I find myself in awe of the author who can slip an old trope into a story in such a way that I find myself realizing some distance in that I am in the middle of said trope.

I encountered one memorable instance of skilled trope use was while reading Charles Stross's Saturn's Children. I realized that the main character, a fembot, had been strapped the railroad tracks without eliciting a "Hey! Not that old trope!" out of me. Rather than feeling cheated by an old and worn-out trope, I felt invigorated by it, sharing a feeling of cleverness with the author in that recognition.

The use of tropes can be, and unfortunately are, frequently overplayed and handled as a blunt instrument of storytelling. The vast majority of readers want a story they can recognize, that falls into a genre, and gives them a chance to play along with the author in telling the story. Without tropes, you have stripped away what is recognizable, what makes it a story. Without tropes you have moved into the abstract realm of the avant guarde, a realm where the reader has to work way to hard to create a sense of story that may not even exist.

2018 Blog



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Blog posted:2018/02/27
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How Star Wars was saved in the edit (video)

float= The Red Rook (cover).png

Parallel Visions: City of Angels City of Demons ebook and trade paperback available on Amazon (or here).
The question of whether Vance was dead or not became more than academic when he found himself in a bathtub up to his chin in ice water like some forgotten cocktail garnish, a demonic woman standing over him, and no memory of how he got there.
Read free chapters of Parallel Visions: City of Angels City of Demons here
The Red Rook, sequel to Dispensing Justice and the second novel of Nova Genesis World is now available for Kindle or as a paperback at Amazon.
Read free chapters of Dispensing Justice here (or get it here).
Read free chapters of The Red Rook here (or get it here). -- Fritz Freiheit

Dispensing Justice (cover).png 20th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards - Honorable Mention.png
Are you an author with a wiki? Or know of an author who has one?
If so, I'd like to hear about it. Add a comment here


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFMyMxMYDNk

A video essay exploring how Star Wars' editors recut and rearranged Star Wars: A New Hope to create the cinematic classic it became.

Check out more essays at http://youtube.com/rjfilmschool

Written by David Welch (@watsonwelch)

Narrated and Edited by Joey Scoma (@joey2meals)

References:

Deleted Magic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2r4Nffrc6Y&t=1585s

Deleted Scenes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f00IkrWvur4

Harmy's Star Wars: Despecialized Edition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHfLX_TMduY&t=201s

Empire of Dreams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw_VeZk_q0U

More awesome videos at RocketJump.com!

For licensing and usage inquiries please email licensing@rocketjump.com

Category: Education

License: Standard YouTube License

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Tropes – Part 1 – Shedding Some Light On Tropes

Tropes – Part 1 – Shedding Some Light On Tropes (wiki version)

Last week, at the Tuesday night’s AAAWG meeting, the topic of tropes came up. When I was asked what a trope was, I am chagrined to say that I didn’t have an immediate cogent answer and referred the questioner to tvtropes.org. While I was (and am) comfortable with my internal conceptualization of tropes — which is another way of saying that I could (and can) identify a trope when confronted with one — as well as being familiar with the dictionary definition, I didn’t have a definition that I could whip out and say a trope is X. Continue reading “Tropes – Part 1 – Shedding Some Light On Tropes”