Idea Guild > Sagely Advice

Existential Writing Genre Crisis

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--- Quote from: Dossta on November 29, 2012, 01:34:25 PM ---Just remember: Tropes Are Tools, and are not inherently good or bad.

--- End quote ---
Agreed. Unless you're going for experimental world creation (which I suspect Scras loves, more power to him), tropes are useful things.

That said, there's nothing wrong with innovation. Any suggestions for avoiding some of these (potential if not always) traps?

#1: Agreed. I have read a few authors who refused to use maps (can't remember who off the top of my head) and I also remember reading a forward to some book (also can't remember which) where the author said he only used a map because the publisher forced it on him (because everyone does it...)

#2: Sometimes I am a bit slow. You wouldn't believe how long it took me to figure this one out.

#3: Since most people reading these stories are not rich, it makes sense that this would be an easy way for the author to get empathy for their heroes. I wonder if this has its roots in folk tales, which seem to always revolve around the folk hero beating villains or creatures more powerful than themselves.

#4: I don't really have a problem with the rich/powerful being the villains. Again, I think this helps connect with the reader. We see constant examples of the rich and powerful getting away with the most heinous things IRL, so it's nice to see them "get theirs," even if only in a fictional context. A spin on this that I really like uses someone who appears to be nice when they are weak or poor but turn out to be awful villains when they eventually gain power. In some stories they start out nice and are corrupted and in others they just never had the opportunity to be truly evil until they gained the means (often through villainous acts.) The one thing that does really annoy me are the examples where the educated are always villainous and the good are always simple.

The rest cracked me up. I am soooo tired of prophecies. I feel instant revulsion for any movie, show, or book that resorts to that tired old shtick.

I also get tired of the "every member of race X is..." cliches. I want to see the rebellious Dwarven son who is lazy, pulls pranks on his dour old father, and prefers wine (gasp!) to ale.

The rogue with a heart of gold starts to appeal less once you've met a few real ones.


--- Quote from: Dozus on November 29, 2012, 01:48:03 PM ---That said, there's nothing wrong with innovation. Any suggestions for avoiding some of these (potential if not always) traps?

--- End quote ---

I listen to a writing podcast when I get the chance, and they address this problem several times.  Their advice is quite good: when you want to use a trope, try combining it with one or two other tropes to get a better (hopefully more original) idea.  For example, look at Anne McCaffery: Dragons + Space Colony = Dragonriders of Pern.  Or Brandon Sanderson: Zombies + Prison City = Elantris.  Or J.K. Rowling: Wizards + High School Drama = Harry Potter.  You can always blend tropes of different genres together and see what you come up with.  Hell, take that Farm Boy and see what you can add to it to make it new and interesting again.  Maybe a touch of the Reluctant Psycho, perhaps?

Two things, 1. The *premise* of any tale, anecdote, novel, screenplay, or movie regardless of genre and 2. *Good writing*  matter far more than which tropes are used, not used, combined, or avoided like the plague me'thinks. That is to say, if the work is written so that it hooks you and keeps your interest, what is the difference what the tropes are?

Here's another example everyone is familiar with...The DaVinci Code. The book was an international best-seller for what, a decade? And started a cottage industry that goes on to this day (check your local book-store's "new fiction" shelf). Most professional reviews refer to it as"amateurish" (other than its great premise/hook), derivative, cliche and trite. You think Dan Brown cares right now? The tropes involved...A brainy, good-hearted professor investigates a mystical mystery from __x___ time period in history. There are chases, there is a love interest, there is a mad-man super-rich villain pulling strings, there fanatical assassins, there are world-changing implications. So basically Indiana Jones but with a "controversial twist".

I'm just saying. Also trying to understand, Scras, are you referring to an existential frustration with whats out there to read, or with the creation process itself? I'm curious.

Or, am i off-topic here already? :)

This reminds me of the difference between an archetype and a stereotype: The first is a blueprint which the author builds from and makes his own, while the second is a simple cutout that is basically indistinguishable from any other of the same type.


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