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Storytelling and Writing Craft > Tropes are everywhere

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message 2: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6151 comments I don't get what tropes are. Can you give examples?


message 3: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan For example: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php...

Consider the final sequence for Jurassic Park where the T-Rex shows up and attacks the Velociraptors.

The thing about a trope is that it can become a cliche, and needs to be used carefully.

There's another thing, "a genre convention," which can also be a trope, but which has a stronger audience expectation for its existence.

E.g. "Taking the Mentor out of the Game." Obi-Wan dies, Morpheus gets captured, etc.

The Mentor has to be taken out, so the Hero can demonstrate they can take mature, independent action. It's a necessary plot point in any story with a Mentor/Hero pair. What varies is how it is done.


message 4: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6151 comments I get it now. Thanks for taking the time to explain.


message 5: by Parag (new)

Parag Many short stories end with a surprising twist. Can we call that also a trope?

Are there conventions for naming well-known tropes (are they named)?


message 6: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6151 comments I'll be interested in the answers to your questions.


message 7: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Parag wrote: "Many short stories end with a surprising twist. Can we call that also a trope?

Are there conventions for naming well-known tropes (are they named)?"


Hi Parag, there is a full set of Tropes (often amusingly defined with examples) at https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...


message 8: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16042 comments Parag wrote: ".... Are there conventions for naming well-known tropes (are they named)?... "

Yeah, like a Mexican standoff trope, regularly used by Tarantino


message 9: by J. (new)

J. Gowin | 4569 comments This YouTube channel on tropes has made me laugh many times.

https://youtube.com/c/TerribleWriting...


message 10: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) Vampire stories usually come with tropes and some can be seen as cliche but again as Graeme said they have to be used carefully.


message 11: by J. (last edited Mar 21, 2021 01:13PM) (new)

J. Gowin | 4569 comments I've been thinking about a particular trope, the Redemption Arc. Are there limits to who can be redeemed? Is there a scale by which acts of atonement can be measured against their sins? How long can a character be kept in the grey before they become irredeemable?


message 12: by Graeme (last edited Mar 21, 2021 01:46PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan J. wrote: "I've been thinking about a particular trope, the Redemption Arc. Are there limits to who can be redeemed? Is there a scale by which acts of atonement can be measured against their sins? How long ca..."

I think that to do a redemption arc, a character must be drawn with at least a spark of goodness within them*. There has to be something, even (and especially) if they can't see it themselves.

Take Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. For me, Vader is a classic redemption arc. It is only when Luke is being tortured in front of his eyes by the emperor that he remembers in full the bond between them and acts to destroy the emperor.

This is foreshadowed by the speech of 'ruling the galaxy,' together in Empire, where Darth illustrates that his loyalty to the emperor is not total. That he could turn against him one day - and it is only Luke that he would make this offer to.

So, the importance of the father/son bond is highlighted here, and then clicked into full view at the end of the trilogy.

*Goes to believability. I.e. The redemptive act has to be believable.


message 13: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6151 comments Graeme wrote: "J. wrote: "I've been thinking about a particular trope, the Redemption Arc. Are there limits to who can be redeemed? Is there a scale by which acts of atonement can be measured against their sins? ..."

Thanks for the spoiler. Just joking!! :-) I don't like romances, but I've read a few, and redemption usually plays a role. The male character does something to repel the female character and then slowly redeems himself, causing her to fall in love with him. That's the reason I don't read romances: this is a tried and true formula that gets old fast.


message 14: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11771 comments The interesting thing about tropes is that I think a lot of readers want them. They want the "comfortable" story that evolves the way they think it should and doesn't require much thought. I have tried to avoid that sort of thing, which may be one of the reasons for modest sales.


message 15: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16042 comments J. wrote: "I've been thinking about a particular trope, the Redemption Arc. Are there limits to who can be redeemed? Is there a scale by which acts of atonement can be measured against their sins? How long ca..."

I guess countries that don't have a death penalty assume everything's redeemable. Not really connected to a literary red. arc, I know


message 16: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Nik wrote: "I guess countries that don't have a death penalty assume everything's redeemable. Not really connected to a literary red. arc, I know ..."

The death penalty is part of a punishment system. But you can still have a punishment system without any expectation of 'redemption,' without the death penalty as part of the systems toolbox.

Furthermore, I don't believe that anyone can be punished into a redemptive state. Redemption occurs as an attitudinal shift within the character actualised with real-world choices that demonstrate the shift.

The primary purpose of punishment is to establish control, not least about controlling the person punished, but to control the rest of the population who are aware the punishment exists and will be enforced.


message 17: by G.R. (new)

G.R. Paskoff (grpaskoff) | 257 comments The pure definitions of these terms could have changed over the years, but my (oversimplified) understanding has always been that clichés are phrases that are overused (such as 'tears ran down my face') while tropes are characters or plot devices that have been overused (such as hero arriving in the nick of time).


message 18: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11771 comments Graeme, I have always considered the primary purpose of punishment is to reduce the chances of the perp from doing it again. The death penalty usually achieves that, provided you get the right perp. I am not sure that punishment has any significant effect at dissuading others from entering a life of crime.


message 19: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11771 comments G.R. wrote: "The pure definitions of these terms could have changed over the years, but my (oversimplified) understanding has always been that clichés are phrases that are overused (such as 'tears ran down my f..."

This is partly true, but the difficulty then is that there is a limit to the number of story variations, and Graeme's list (message 7) probably includes most, one way or another. If you make the definition that broad, you can't avoid using them.


message 20: by J. (new)

J. Gowin | 4569 comments Ian wrote: "Graeme, I have always considered the primary purpose of punishment is to reduce the chances of the perp from doing it again. The death penalty usually achieves that, provided you get the right perp..."

I disagree with this assessment. Reducing the crime rate is most successfully accomplished through education and economics. Punishment is a form of atonement which is imposed upon those who have broken faith with society by causing harm to their fellows. To be just, the punishment must be equal to the crime and society must accept the punished back into the fold once the penalty has been paid.


message 21: by J. (new)

J. Gowin | 4569 comments Graeme wrote: "I think that to do a redemption arc, a character must be drawn with at least a spark of goodness within them*. There has to be something, even (and especially) if they can't see it themselves."

I dislike any form of redemption that comes without atonement. I have known too many offences to humanity who go through their lives secure in the knowledge that Jesus will forgive them their sins. If denying justice to the victimized because their attackers said, "sorry", to God instead of the victims is divine, then I reject divinity.

I do find it hilarious that in Star Wars a spouse abuser and mass murderer of children can be redeemed by throwing a cranky senior citizen over a railing.


message 22: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Ian wrote: "Graeme, I have always considered the primary purpose of punishment is to reduce the chances of the perp from doing it again. The death penalty usually achieves that, provided you get the right perp..."

Could be right. I'm not a criminology expert.


message 23: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11771 comments J. wrote: "Ian wrote: "Graeme, I have always considered the primary purpose of punishment is to reduce the chances of the perp from doing it again. The death penalty usually achieves that, provided you get th..."

Not quite sure what you are disagreeing with. I still think that punishment has no significant effect at dissuading others from entering a life of crime. As to the fairness of the punishment, etc, that is more to do with society. Of course we want the punished, on being released, to be honest citizens but In NZ at least many/most of those released return to prison, probably because they do not see options, and in fairness, people imprisoned for dishonesty are not the most attractive to employers.


message 24: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Perhaps punishment motivates people not to be caught...

But, you know, wishful thinking, etc....


message 25: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11771 comments I may be more optimistic about people. I believe most people remain honest not because of fear of punishment but rather because they recognise it is the right thing to do. They even go around helping their neighbours.


message 26: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16042 comments If someone is executed, there is no room for redemption, thus the society assumes certain crimes as irredeemable. Punished, but not terminated, has options - to redeem and atone or to redeem by doing the term, but become a recidivist


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11771 comments I suppose it depends on what redemption means, but in my opinion, society does not really care. It merely wants the person on release from prison to be an honest citizen and stop committing crime. Unfortunately, prisons here have rather modest results in achieving this, and recidivism is unfortunately too common. Not sure what other countries are like.


message 28: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6151 comments Prison is necessary to remove violent offenders from the community. The severity of the crime determines the length of the sentence and, during that time, they can't commit further crimes. Makes sense to me. Some people may use the system to get an education and have a better life once released and redeem themselves.

I do think that the idea of being locked up deters some people from doing a serious crime. Not people doing crimes of passion, or child molestation, though. They're beyond thinking about consequences.

The death penalty is state-sanctioned murder, but murder nonetheless, and morally wrong.


message 29: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11771 comments Getting back to the topic, if you look at depth into the link in message number 7, is it possible to write a story without using one of the tropes there? In my opinion they are so general and so many of them that trying to avoid them is pointless, and trying to use one doesn't really get you any further than your choice with the story.


message 30: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2328 comments Not a book, but I laugh at the 50s Lone Ranger for frequently using the trope of tricking the bad guy into confessing while the sheriff hides behind a door, curtain, etc....much easier than real detective work :D


message 31: by J. (new)

J. Gowin | 4569 comments How about the "Prophecy" trope?

https://youtu.be/trcEuFggd3c

If you take prophecy to its logical conclusion doesn't every story end with, "And then God and his angels won. The End."


message 32: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6151 comments But what if the prophet isn't Christian? Maybe reads Tarot or tea leaves?


message 33: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11771 comments Drink tea!!


message 34: by Nik (last edited Apr 23, 2021 10:21AM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 16042 comments I haven't read any, but billionaires seem to be the superstars of romance, whereby I suspect the main theme is about Cinderella - billie affair. We have an acute shortage of billionaires (2-3K) for all the latent demand :)


message 35: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11771 comments Nik wrote: "I haven't read any, but billionaires seem to be the superstars of romance, whereby I suspect the main theme is about Cinderella - billie affair. We have an acute shortage of billionaires (2-3K) for..."

Then get out there, make a billion, and add 1 to the list :-)


message 36: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16042 comments That would be a big sacrifice to saturate ever growing demand :)


message 37: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11771 comments But you are made of stern stuff, Nik :-)


message 38: by J. (new)

J. Gowin | 4569 comments Nik wrote: "I haven't read any, but billionaires seem to be the superstars of romance, whereby I suspect the main theme is about Cinderella - billie affair. We have an acute shortage of billionaires (2-3K) for..."

That whole genre makes me laugh. The fans imagine Christian Grey and his Tiffany grade kink dungeon. But reality is closer to Warren Buffett and his little blue pills.


message 39: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6151 comments I'm not a fan of romance novels, but I recently read one by mistake. It was billed as mystery/suspense, but halfway through I could see where it was headed. I finished it anyway and, by the way, the male was a regular, hard-headed guy, not a rich dude, which would have been my cue to stop reading.


message 40: by Papaphilly (new)

Papaphilly | 3687 comments Nik wrote: "I haven't read any, but billionaires seem to be the superstars of romance, whereby I suspect the main theme is about Cinderella - billie affair. We have an acute shortage of billionaires (2-3K) for..."

Something about a Billion Dollars makes one look much better......


message 41: by Lizzie (last edited Jun 16, 2021 09:36PM) (new)

Lizzie | 1847 comments Ian wrote: "I suppose it depends on what redemption means, but in my opinion, society does not really care. It merely wants the person on release from prison to be an honest citizen and stop committing crime. Unfortunately, prisons here have rather modest results in achieving this, and recidivism is unfortunately too common. Not sure what other countries are like."

The United States has some of the highest recidivism rates in the world. According to the National Institute of Justice, almost 44% of criminals released return before the first year out of prison. In 2005, about 68% of 405,000 released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within three years, and 77% were arrested within five years.

The longer the incarceration, the more difficulty adjusting to RL. Also, it's very difficult to find gainful employment, a place to live and so many other things, which makes going back to crime to survive more likely. There is also a correlation between lack of education and crime. FInally, we punish but we do little to rehabilitate.

And there are both bad people in the world and people who will choose easy over change.


message 42: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11771 comments Yes, if they have no skills and they are known to be dishonest, life becomes difficult. Here, their only friends are probably people they knew in prison, and the chances are their best chances of making money is with them - selling methamphetamine. So yes, they are going to get caught again. And as you say, the lack of education is a strong correlating factor. Many of them cannot even get a driving licence because they can't read the written test that has to be passed before going on to the actual test.

I have often thought that earlier parole should be given only after the inmate supplies a written essay saying what he will do when he gets out - and the prison system should offer reading and writing lessons (and some basic maths). The prisoner would know parole would depend on how he does there so with nothing better to do he might even learn.


message 43: by Lizzie (new)

Lizzie | 1847 comments Ian wrote: "I have always considered the primary purpose of punishment is to reduce the chances of the perp from doing it again. The death penalty usually achieves that, provided you get the right perp. I am not sure that punishment has any significant effect at dissuading others from entering a life of crime...."

At least in the USA, the reasons for punishment are:
1) Retribution or Revenge - both the victim and society feel if an adequate punishment is exacted than there is no need to personally take action in vengeance.
2) Deterrence/Public Education - the belief that if the punishment is well-known, it will make others in the general population think twice before committing a crime.
3) Incapacitation - the longer the offender is in prison, the less harm he can do to others in society. It's also the logic behind the 3-strike rule for repeat offenders.
4) Rehabilitation - The belief that there is a spark of good in everyone and that every life has value and worth.

The last one takes us back to tropes. Hans Solo was a smuggler breaking the law, a gambler, etc., but he showed up in the end to help save the day.


message 44: by Lizzie (new)

Lizzie | 1847 comments Ian wrote: "Yes, if they have no skills and they are known to be dishonest, life becomes difficult. Here, their only friends are probably people they knew in prison, and the chances are their best chances of m..."

In AZ they are required to attend classes toward getting their GED (alternate to a high school diploma). One of my son's jobs was assisting the teacher in those classes. The teacher showing up was hit or miss. The inmates give the teachers a hard time. There were some who wanted to learn and my son helped those. (That job got him $.50 an hour.) If the inmate doesn't care, the system ignores them as it can't force them to learn. If succesfully completing it were a requirement of release, maybe more of the inmates would succeed. Although, there is only so much that can be taught given when their education stopped, the amount of time in their sentence, and the limited time for instruction.


message 45: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11771 comments I suspect an incentive would be mandatory because many inmates, by definition almost, do not cooperate willingly with authority. But if they are to have a chance of a crime-free life later, they have to be able to manage some of the basics.


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