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Oh My God! Look at the Tropes.

Just(1) before, I was looking for the first line of my favourite book online so I wouldn't have to walk out to the dining room, hunt for the book on my shelves and type out the line myself. I was going to save time!(2)

So I typed "The Dark is Rising first line" into the search bar and chose the TV Tropes link.(3)

The first thing I realised when I, somewhat glazed of eye, finally managed to draw myself from the page was never go to TV Tropes if you value your time; secondly, that anyone who tells you they are writing totally original fiction is talking out of their arses(the authors of The Dark is Rising page identified 168 major tropes plus any number of sub-tropes); and lastly that perhaps being unoriginal isn't so bad. As I said I was going to the page because the book and series are one of my all time favourite reads, and nothing that I read has changed my opinion. It is all about, I suppose, stopping that trope you are about to use from becoming a cliche, or at least using it cleverly so it isn't too obvious that you are using a Capitalised Contrivance.

Some of the tropes listed I don't really agree with. For instance the writer suggest the Ho Yay(or Homoeritcism, yay) meme. Now the Ho Yay meme does allow that scenes which could at first glance be seen as Homoerotic may be less so in context, but really, the main characters are at most 12 or 13! Why are people even wanting to colour what they do with sexual sterotypes? They are still children for God's sake!

Some of the tropes I did like though(4) includes:

Chekhov's Boomerang - A plot device that gets reused. It must be pretty obvious that it would be easy to do this badly, but makes the pay-off even bigger when done right.

The Constant - A person or thing within time travel stories that lives through history while key characters or the readers jump around between points.

Death by Newbury Medal -"The dog always dies. Go to the library and pick out a book with an award sticker and a dog on the cover. Trust me, that dog is going down." Wallace Wallace, No More Dead Dogs

Did Mum Just Have Tea With Cuthlu - A great name for the idea that someone comes home to find an enemy sitting chatting with the folks.

Nietzsche Wannabe - A nihilistic philosopher who always lectures about how morality, hope, or the general goodness and value of life are meaningless.This one dovetails nicely with the Despair Event Horizon

Nothing is Scarier - Where fear is not induced by some traumatic visual element or by a physical threat, but by the sole lack of event

San Dimas Time - despite time hopping, everything that happens has to fit in withing the timeframe of modern events.

Translator Microbes

I was going to include the Real Men Wear Pink trope but to tell the truth I think that while the example could be viewed that way(John Rowland plays the lap harp), I wonder if this is a cultural one. A US only(or mostly) insecurity issue. It is obvious from the story that John is highly respected within his community and really it isn't about him doing something unmanly. He is a modern day bard and keeper of tradition. Only people who don't understand how important that would make him in Wales would consider his harp playing as something lesser.

So TV Tropes. Leave it alone unless you have the whole day to kill, or if you must go there don't for the love of Mary, ever go the Tropes page for Lord of the Rings.

(1) For a very loose definition of "just"

(2) Goody, goody!

(3) That was a "real" smart move

(4) I'm not going to provide links for all the tropes I mention


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 26th, 2011 10:40 am (UTC)
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife"
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )



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