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Trope Avoidance

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Incanus, Jun 4, 2015.

  1. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

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    Are you eschewing any of the well known fantasy tropes? If so, which ones?

    For myself, though I’m writing what might be termed ‘classic fantasy’, I’m steering clear of a number of them, such as:

    Dragons
    Elves/dwarves/goblins/orcs etc.
    Pure evil dark lord types/Devil/Satan
    POV kings/queens/princes/princesses/or other powerful political figures (such characters may show up, or have an impact on a story, but they won’t be POV characters)
    Grey-bearded wizards in mystical robes holding staves or wands.
     
  2. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    Come on, that's silly. No story follows every convention to the letter. It'd be easier to list "tropes you like to use".

    I guess as far as conventions (that I know of) that I'm going out of my way to avoid or subvert...

    A setting based on Europe, Japan or China
    Monarchies
    Constructed languages
    An accurate map of the whole setting
    Orcs as savage monsters
    Elves as an advance civilization
    Deities/gods/demons/spirits actively participating in mortal affairs
    MacGuffins or any specific mystical object that is super important to the plot
    Magic as a practice that can be learned and follows a system
    Magic-users who aren't bearded wizards in mystical robes holding staffs or wands

    That's all off the top of my head. This is all from my most by-the-numbers fantasy story.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015
    Incanus likes this.
  3. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    How can you POSSIBLY call grey-bearded wizards with pointy hats and staves trope? (tongue in cheek)

    I've noticed in the past few years how very cliche my early writing is. It's embarrassing, actually. I've got it all...kids who suck at magic in magic school, dragons on piles of gold, elves who are clones of Orlando Bloom Legolas, dwarves returning to a homeland under a mountain, OMG, it just goes on and on. Looking at the Clichea World map, I'm sort of rethinking my world, too! Who knew a "scar" was cliche? What's that from? I've never seen that in a book...but I have one and now i need to rethink that since it appeared on the Clichea map. HAHA Guess I'm doomed!
     
    Miskatonic and Incanus like this.
  4. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I was thinking of trying to avoid using the trope of using letters to form words, and then words to form sentences, and then sentences to form paragraphs. I want something truly original.
     
    SugoiMe, Shreddies, Manalodia and 6 others like this.
  5. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    Why bother writing at all? Even non-fiction books contain tropes.
     
    Xitra_Blud likes this.
  6. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    How about numbers?
     
    Manalodia likes this.
  7. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Good point!
     
    Ireth likes this.
  8. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

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    You mean modern art?

    I don't really have a problem with using tropes. I stopped trying to be completely original after slogging through TV tropes and realizing that creating something truly unique is more work than what it is worth.
     
    Xitra_Blud likes this.
  9. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    Yes!!! I'm going to be the first to write a story in binary code:

    01001111 01101110 01100011 01100101 00100000 01110101 01110000 01101111 01101110 00100000 01100001 00100000 01110100 01101001 01101101 01100101...


    That translates to once upon a time. Hmm... this may take a while.
     
  10. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Here's a cool idea: tell a story using only emoticons. Sounds like a good challenge.
     
    Reaver likes this.
  11. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

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    Well, I'm not at all suggesting that we don't use ANY tropes. I was just wondering if there were a few here and there that some of you were shying away from. My list was hardly comprehensive. I'm absolutely using some very recognizable tropes--Medieval setting, traveling/journeys, important props (macguffins), a 'magic' system (of sorts).

    Also, I'll read books that use any and all of the tropes that I'm not using myself. The kind of world-originality I'm going for might be comparable to something like The Land of the Thomas Covenant books. The way I see it, that world has a blend of the recognizable and the original.

    Oh, yeah, thought of two more I'm not likely to use:

    Save the whole world plots
    Prophecy
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015
  12. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    I didn't expect this thread to go in this direction...but I like that it did.
     
  13. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

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    I'm not sure how asking this question equates to saying that tropes are bad, or that some stories use nothing but tropes. I've said no such thing, or implied it in the least. Nowhere did I say that we all need to be 100% original. Because that would be silly. I just can't see these things in such extreme, black/white terms.

    I was just a little curious, that's all.
     
  14. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Incanus,

    It's my fault as I got the ball rolling in that direction. Mainly I was just trying to be funny...

    My personal tastes are that I'd rather read a well-written, good story about characters with not an original thought otherwise than the most original piece ever that wasn't well-written or a good story.
     
  15. fantastic

    fantastic Minstrel

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    In my opinion, in somewhat serious stories, you should avoid tropes of character not being logical or making stupid decisions just for the writing to be convenient. Avoid too convenient situations or something happening just because it is cool even though it doesn't make sense. People are still people in most stories, even if there are differences in other things.
     
    Manalodia likes this.
  16. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    That trope's called the Idiot Plot, in that it only works because the characters are idiots. And I hate it.
     
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  17. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    I don't think its too much to ask for a story to be well written and original. I value both of those qualities separately, but am overjoyed when I see them together.

    That's why in my writing I actively try to avoid the more cliche and overused tropes, such as 'the chosen one', and often I do try to steer clear of medieval western-esque settings.

    Obviously nothing can ever be 100% original, but that doesn't mean you can't at least try and be different.
     
    Incanus likes this.
  18. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    Hmmm...for now I'm trying to subvert tropes or give them a new twist, not outright avoid them. Sometimes they're useful, and there's no need to fear using some of them. They're just narrative devices. That being said, relying to much on tropes creates books that lack original ideas and creativity. All in all I think it's a matter of balance--"Everything in moderation", as the Greeks said.

    Some tropes I've been avoiding in particular are as follows:

    Chosen One/prophesied savior of the realm
    Old wizard mentor
    Magical object quest
    Evil Dark Lord
    Elves, dwarves, orcs, and other stereotypical fantasy races
    Female characters rebelling against The Evil Patriarchy (my societies lean toward gender-equal or matriarchal)
    Medieval Feudalism
    Medieval settings in general


    ...And a lot more I can't think of right now.
     
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  19. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

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    No problem. By all means have fun! That's the last thing I'd want to quash.

    I think it goes without saying that all our priorities are not going to match up perfectly. And that was the point of this thread. For me to really love a story, it must be well-written (a subjective item all on its own), and have something going on in the intellectual department. Strong characterizations are great, of course, but there are a few writers I love that aren't particularly great at this. HP Lovecraft comes to mind (I'm guessing you don't care for him). I can't help loving what I love, any more than I can alter my personality.
     
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  20. cupiscent

    cupiscent Sage

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    Whenever I tell someone I write fantasy - especially when I tell someone who doesn't read it - I specify, "I'm more about politics and humanity in conflict than swinging swords at dragons." This has become a little easier to communicate since Game of Thrones became a thing, I must admit. Before that it was all, "Oh, like Lord of the Rings?" and it's difficult to explain that my work is almost completely different, while still being the same genre. If I work with a lot of the standard fantasy tropes - prophecy, evil overlords, fantastical races, dragons - I'm probably going to be working hard to subvert expectations somehow.
     
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