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Introduction to Tropes
In a story there might be a cliché or an event that has been reused several times by other writers. It could be the hero saving the damsel in distress, an unrequited love between two people, revenge using beauty, and a peasant becoming king. These are all tropes.
A trope is a plot device or an attribute of a character that is so commonly used that its seen as commonplace in any genre. For example, a trope in superhero stories is that a villain wants to rule the entire world. However, there is more than just one trope in literature, In fact, there are thousands. Here I explain the 4 most overused tropes in stories.
Trope #1: The Love Triangle
In romance there is a very familiar trope called a love triangle. This trope is where three characters likes three other characters. For example, John, Joe, and Jane are friends. But John like Joe, Joe like Susan, and Susan like John. This trope is usually used to create drama.
There are some good stories that use this trope however, there are more creative ways to create drama in a romance story. Like the brother of the female lead constantly getting in the way of male lead trying to woo her. This creates drama without being over complicated. It also creates an opportunity for the writer to create lots of comedy.
Trope #2: The Underdog
Anyone who has read any story knows what this trope is. This trope is called the Underdog. The main character is an average (a plain jane so to say) person that gets stuck doing something they are not good at or never expected to be doing.
For example, becoming the hero by accident and defeating the demon king. Another example is a peasant becoming an emperor of an empire or a mortal becoming a god. They are relatable as most people are not superman and, at the very beginning, has us rooting for them on the other side of the screen. However, its important to note that this trope has been done thousands of times.
So, if a writer wants to create an underdog they should add a little something to the character to make them unique.
Trope #3: The Ugly Duckling
This trope, which is usually seen in romance stories, is about a girl that everyone in the story finds unattractive or plain becoming beautiful. Essentially, this trope is the equivalent of a glow up. For example, the fat girl losing weight and then attracting the attention of the hottest guys in school. But the ugly duckling trope doesn’t just have to be about looks.
It can also be about personality. In the comic called I Woke Up as the Ugly Duckling a girl wakes up in another girls body. The body is fat and the original owner of that body was timid, volatile, and insecure which made her unlikable to everyone. The girl that took over her body first lost weight (became beautiful) and slowly started to fix the broken relationships around her.
Basically, a timid, insecure, and volatile girl essentially lost weight and became confident which made her more attractive to others around her.
Trope #4: Amnesia
In this trope, the main character is usually going through a tough time or is currently experiencing some sort of tension in the story with another character (usually in a romance) when all of a sudden they get amnesia. They get it by falling down the stairs, a car accident, or even just a potted plant falling on their head. The main character then meets the character that tension was created with and a whole slew of shenanigans ensue afterwards.
However, the problem with this trope is that its used to create a complicated element to the story but its used multiple times when the character faces difficulty. Male lead breaks up with the female lead? Amnesia. Male lead causes female lead to loose her job? Amnesia. Basically, this is used to many times in a story.
These tropes are overused. Thus, using these tropes will not make a writer a bad writer. Instead, if using these tropes, try to add a twist to it to make it different than all the other stories that have used that trope.
- 8 Clichés to Avoid in Young Adult Novels by Priya Barua
Tropes used end number of times, wrung dry and used yet again result in clichés. After a while, they become terribly boring.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Erin Reynolds