What are writing tropes? You may have never heard of them, but you can find writing tropes in any work of fiction. Although writers are often advised against using common ones, it’s nearly impossible to avoid tropes altogether.
So what are tropes, and how can you use them to improve your story? Keep reading to find out.
What Are Tropes?
A trope is a widely used term that covers various elements of storytelling. From plot structure and character to imagery and figures of speech, tropes come in all shapes and sizes. Simply put, a trope is something that is instantly recognizable and conveys a very specific message to readers.
Tropes can also be defined as recurrent or significant themes in literature that gets used so often that it becomes a convention.
Every story you read has at least a couple tropes. Some of the most common and overused character and plot tropes include:
● The strong female protagonist
● The chosen one
● The elderly mentor
● A love triangle
● Enemies who become lovers
● An average person saves the world
Why Do Writing Tropes Matter?
The use of tropes isn’t inherently bad. They’re actually quite helpful. Used correctly, tropes play a significant role in a story. In fact, some tropes are so powerful that it’s impossible to write a story in certain genres without them.
Use of tropes only becomes a problem when they’re overdone and the writer brings nothing new to the table. This over-reliance can signal a lack of originality and poor writing.
If you fill your work with predictable, unimaginative elements, tropes can weigh your story down. This ultimately affects readers’ ability to enjoy and get lost in your story.
But don’t abandon tropes. They matter. They’re the building blocks of storytelling. They can help you relay a message or information to the readers in a few short words or images.
Tropes also help your readers know what kind of story to expect. You may shy away from predictability, but a little bit is fine. Tropes let readers know your book is indeed a romance, comedy, or spy thriller. This bit of information is comforting and encouraging for readers.
The key is to find the right balance in being predictable. You want to meet your readers’ expectations, but you want to do it in a surprising way. That’s where your creativity comes in handy.
How to Improve Your Use of Tropes
As stated earlier, there are many useful tropes. Getting the most of them requires you to use them with intention and to know their function within your story. Here are some ways you can use tropes to your advantage.
● Play with the trope. Don’t just blindly follow the usual formula of a trope. Take a common trope and twist it a bit. Play with it until you put a fresh spin on it that will catch your readers off guard.
● Make tropes more relatable. Make your trope relatable to readers. This helps create the vital connection between your readers and your book’s characters. This will encourage readers to keep turning the page.
● Try layering tropes. Make your story less predictable by using more than one trope. Layering different elements and expectations can make your story unique and engaging.
Writing with Intention
When used intentionally, tropes can breathe more life to your manuscript. Just be mindful of how you incorporate these common, predictable elements. Be creative in reimagining them to make your book exciting and appealing to readers.
Have a story with all the right tropes? Want to publish it so the world can enjoy your clever writing style? Let’s talk.