Elemental Magic: Trope Reboot

Sometimes magic systems fail. Instead of wonder they cause confusion. Instead of building conflict they create plot holes. And instead of deepening our characters’ struggles they enable the dreaded deus ex machina. But we can avoid these issues by turning to a classic, well defined system. It’s a trope to streamline spells. Let’s reboot Elemental … Read more

The Mentor: Trope Reboot

Fantasy novels are complex tomes filled with beguiling magics, curious creatures, unspeakable names, countless political fiefdoms, more breeds of elf, and thousands of years of adventure. Your readers have to learn all those new particulars without wanting to burn your book in rage. Thankfully there’s a trope for teaching those details. Let’s reboot the Mentor. … Read more

Medieval Kingdom: Trope Reboot

Swords, castles, princes, serfs – just those four words are enough to place readers in a fantasy setting.  They evoke a place both mysterious and reminiscent of fairy tales, archaic enough to hold secrets, but grounded enough to be relatable. It’s a trope to make all magical settings feel familiar. Let’s reboot the Medieval Kingdom. … Read more

The Dark Lord: Trope Reboot

In the battle between good and terrible storytelling, we look for personal conflicts with complex characters.  Yet one trope gives our villain vague power and simple goals. It promises our readers a straightforward fight against the forces of evil. There’s one trope that just wants to rule them all. So let’s reboot the Dark Lord. … Read more

The Chosen One: Trope Reboot

We can use any storytelling trope to write powerful novels.  But there’s one trope that angers many readers because it’s close to cheating.  It takes an ordinary character, steals his or her agency, and shoehorns them into the conflict. It’s a trope for forcing an abrupt call to action. So let’s reboot the Chosen One. … Read more