Tag Archives: Cliches

And now, Viceroy, we will discuss a new treaty!

justice_scaleThree votes rolled in later than the rest, with two surprising developments:

1. Perfect Justice now beats The Dragon Thief by a 2:1 margin. Ouch. So much for a new project; I should finish the one I’ve got. Fair enough. I still intend to work on both because only rewriting a story would drive me batty. (Yes, I realize I’m already batty.)

2. Echoes of Prophecy received a vote. What poor unfortunate soul wants more cliche fantasy? Nah, I’m kidding. I still have hopes to make Echoes considerably more entertaining than Shadows was. To be honest, if I were just competing with David Eddings and George R. R. Martin and even Robert Jordan, I really would think I could make significant contributions as a fantasy writer. It’s Brandon Sanderson who intimidates me, having simultaneously shattered the typical cliches of fantasy and yet kept the pacing and intrigue of some of the greatest action movies of our time.

TV Tropes 101

individualityIf you ever look at the sidebar on the right, among the various navigation options you’ll see I’ve included websites I use for research. Obviously dictionary.com, wikipedia. Google maps I use to see how streets connect in distant cities, so that in a novel if my characters make a left onto Pennsylvania Ave. in DC, I know where they’re going, even though I’ve never driven through DC myself.

The one I want to call your attention to is www.tvtropes.org.

It’s my new favorite website. OF ALL. Even more addictive to me than wikipedia (where I also spend significant time).

Tropes are common elements employed in the storytelling arts, similar to cliches but not identical; mostly because of the negative connotation that “cliche” has. Tropes are value-neutral, although SOME tropes are bad. It would be fair to say that cliches are a type of tropes.

The TV Tropes is a wiki site with less stringent standards than most wikis, resulting in a lot informality. This can make it hard to follow when a particular troper doesn’t phrase things clearly, especially when the “definition” of a trope is given in terms of additional tropes, which the reader may not know yet. (And if THOSE tropes are similarly poorly defined, it becomes an endless circle of confusion.)

But some are well-written enough, and the examples are the heart of the tropes. You can also look up your favorite tv shows, books, and movies, and see which tropes have been identified within them.

One of the most popular movies of all time was The Matrix. Just how original was this ‘groundbreaking’ film?

Let’s check its trope page to find out. There we find a list of several dozen tropes identified, commonly used in many other books, movies, and shows.

Here are just a few:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ThereIsNoTry
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheObiWan
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SamusIsAGirl
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NighInvulnerability
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MyNameIsInigoMontoya
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CatScare
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BadAssLongcoat
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AlwaysSaveTheGirl
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CrypticConversation
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DreamWithinADream
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GunFu
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SignificantAnagram

And of course my all-time favorite trope:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RuleOfCool

Now how many of the tropes above did you already identify as references to other movies? Or in Samus’ case, video games?

Knowing these elements is way of admitting that nothing is new under the sun, the admission of which frees one to use these elements deliberately if desired, or avoid them, or at least acknowledge them.

Tropes in Woman’s Best Friend

In addition to researching tropes used, averted, suberted, or lampshaded by others, I often search for tropes in my own work by plugging words or themes into the TV tropes search engine. I’m curious how many tropes I unwittingly used when simply writing a story, without keeping any particular tropes in mind. (This is how most tropes occur, rather than by intention.)

Woman’s Best Friend dodges a lot of typical dog tropes, which pleases me. However, Evil Detecting Dog makes an appearance (both played straight and subverted), and one scene could be interpreted as Kick The Dog (even though it wasn’t a strictly superfluous action).

Naomi is quite obviously a Distressed Damsel, which is a trope Older Than Dirt. It looks like I also lampshaded Not With the Safety On You Won’t. Mark is fairly obviously a Workaholic.

There are a couple others, but I won’t list them here as they are spoilers.

What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?

bunnycryMisery is like high-powered story fuel.

My next short story is about a guy who’s had a recent run of very bad luck. (Of course, thanks to a mysterious peddler, his luck is about to change.) To write his perspective, I’m going to draw from my own experience from the lowest points of my life.

Getting fired from a temp job for being home (on doctor’s orders) due to having a spinal headache (MOST unpleasant) and going into shock following a medical procedure (relating to breaking my spine in 2006) was one of the worst weeks of my life. I was in so much pain and agony that there were hours where (1) I sincerely thought I was going to die, or (2) I really didn’t know much of what was going on around me.

As a kind of sympathy card for the rough week I was having, my employer let me go, saying they just needed a warm body in the seat and if I was going to be…well… y’know, in the hospital, that just wasn’t acceptable to them.

There was another time where my girlfriend dumped me one day, and my cat died the following day. When it rains it pours, right? And other pessemistic cliches.

What about you? What were some of the worst experiences of your life? Breakups? Firings? Injuries? Sicknesses? Screwed up travel plans? Combinations of all of the above?