A little trope never killed nobody

Continuing on from my last post, World Building Fears, I’ve decided to stop illogically fighting my mind’s natural inclination to borrow from tropes simply for the sake of fighting it.

Trope exists because it communicates a familiar and known set of information to the reader.  It is a useful tool that communicates more than just the words you have written on a page.  As I’m writing, tropes sometimes comes to mind at times because they are what I have learned and absorbed as a reader.

Just because something is trope doesn’t make it bad, just as being original and different from trope doesn’t necessarily mean good.  After all, there are countless stories set in good ol’ medieval Europe, telling stories of romance, politics, warfare, treachery, and the like.  Why some achieve success and others don’t is because of how the world, characters and stories can engage a reader.  

For example, George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire– he does not shy away from trope, such as the sexualised wicked woman trope in Cersei or Melisandre. These characters remain powerful, interesting and vital to the story because they are well-written and complex.  Just because the sexualised wicked woman is a well-known trope doesn’t automatically make the characters two dimensional and flat.  When he goes against trope, such as the invincible hero, his character deaths makes an impact to the story, not just an arbitrary event for the sake of denying trope. 

When I contemplated writing a concept borrowed from medieval European folklore in a medieval Asian world setting, this was not for a meaningful reason.  I just wanted to lean away from the medieval European tropes that kept coming to mind for no reason other than that.  It would not have improved the quality of writing.  Likely the opposite as I would be writing a poorly explained world and story which mismatched against the expected assumptions both I and a reader might apply from internalised understanding of tropes. 

Hope my blathering about tropes hasn’t bored you!  This was the closure I had finally reached regarding my fear of tropes since my last post so thought I should share my thought process.  

What have your own experiences with tropes been as a reader, and particularly a writer? 

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