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Fiction Tropes

Ah, tropes. Absolutely no piece of fiction is complete without at least one, no matter whether it’s subverted, inverted, only lightly referenced or even just left how it normally is. The idea of a trope is actually so common and there is such a variation in tropes that TV Tropes is a thing. And I totally don’t sometimes spend half an hour or so per day looking through every trope for a certain game I like

So, if it’s such a mundane and normal idea in the world of fiction, why have I brought it up today? Well, I was curious about how others see tropes, their importance, etc. So, what tropes do you tend to use without thinking in your pieces? Which tropes do you like? Dislike? Do you have a hard time trying to write a trope you like, only for a trope you’re not a fan of to be quite simple? This thread is a discussion for those questions and many more.



Call me Del
I like including silly anime tropes. I've recently done the Sneeze Cut in System:Reboot. Things like this are fun, but I wouldn't overuse them.

I also quite like the character who eats a lot. In The End, this was Spark. I'm not sure if I've done this in any other 'fic to the same degree, but in Reboot both Cookie and DL like their food.

Breaking the fourth wall is another fun one, if the timing is right. More-so for comedy stories, and is one I've used particularly in my more ridiculous 'fics that aren't posted to this site. This wouldn't work for serious stories at all. I've done this ever so slightly in Reboot where DL explains what a fangirl is (and was then warned not to do this too often!)

I don't think I know enough tropes to really comb through my 'fics to see what I have and haven't used. Or which ones I don't like. But those are the ones I've done deliberately. I did use TV Tropes for ideas of what to put in a cyberpunk story, so Reboot is probably riddled with them - intentional or not.

It will be interesting to see other responses about this, if only to learn a little more!


Canada Connoisseur
I tend to fall for tropes quite a few times when I'm writing. I'm not sure if this would be considered a trope, but in my recent Christmas story one of my characters, after accidentally splattering his shirt with tomato ketchup, blinks blankly for a few seconds then apologizes awkwardly to everybody around him, including his girlfriend.

Tropes can be funny when they're played right and are applied in moderation, but overusing them can make a story cliched and tired out of fresh ideas.


Rabid Dusclops Fan
Ah yes - tropes. They can be your best friend as well as your worst ally at times.

While I don't necessarily use tropes by choice, I do find that if I'm not aware of them, they tend to pop up a LOT in my work - especially in horror. If I had a British pound for every Stephen King trope I used to apply in my writing, I'd be a very rich woman. I used to be of the mindset that probably every horror writer goes through: "Well, if it worked for Stephen King, then it'll work for me, right?", but I began to find that the only reason his tropes worked for him was because that was his style, and the only reason they became tropes is because he uses them so much and everybody else tries to emulate them.

During the latter half of 2017 I finally stepped back and took a look at the tropes I'm good at using. I'm at my best with surreal horror (in fact I liken myself to be more like Junji Ito than Stephen King - which is probably a good thing) and using things that aren't normally scary and making them absolutely terrifying. It's a pretty useful trope to have at times. But of course, it isn't what you're using that's scary - but how you use it that really counts. Like, the first part of Resident Evil 7 involves a character who uses a chainsaw against the protagonist. Now a crazy person with a chainsaw is nothing new in the horror genre - but the way this trope is used to convey information to the player on multiple levels is what made it so effective and memorable. That's how I see the tropes that I tend to use. Can they be overdone? Yes, but you really have to find what works for you and furthermore, how you can make them your own without being too cliche.

Kutie Pie

"It is my destiny."
I don't exactly go out of my way to incorporate certain tropes into my works unless I'm already in the middle of working on a story and I happen across something that makes me go "Aha, so that's what it is!", or it's a scene/event I needed further clarification on (this was pretty helpful when it comes to Encryption). So because of that, I don't exactly have a list of my favorite tropes, at least none that aren't spoilery to my work, weirdly enough. But I have noticed that since a majority of my ships involve the "Huge Guy, Tiny Girl" trope, I try to have a little bit of fun with it especially during the love scenes which has tropes I also like to play around with huehuehue. Sometimes I wonder if I was able to subvert/invert them to my advantage since I do take inspiration from anime as a whole, though I try really hard not to imitate them. This is something I'm going to keep in mind whenever I get around to trying out my hand on the dreaded harem genre (gasp!), since I have an idea I don't think has really been used yet, or at least not used well that I know of.

Mentally going through my current stories, I guess I can also put down the "All Men Are Perverts" or anything involving a pervert as a trope(s) I use quite a bit. They never involved the main character(s) exactly (that I can remember? Kinda want to do it one of these days ngl), but expect a side character(s) to be a pervert and get into their own shenanigans before getting their face kicked in or whatnot in the process for laughs (I'm proud of myself for writing out "The remote slammed squarely into his face"). I have way too much fun with that.
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Chibi Pika

Stay positive
*Glances around* Oh man... you all know what I'm gonna say, but I still have to say it, don't I? I'm, uh... I'm a fan of chessmasters...

Audience: *ahem*

Okay, okay, and Xanatos Gambits...

Audience: *taps foot on the floor.*

Alright, alright, I even like the Thirty Xanatos Pileup, what more do you want from me???

On a side note, I of course love time travel and all its related tropes, although I get a little bored by traditional models of time travel that involve grandfather paradoxes and the like. Don't get me wrong, I love Back to the Future and all, but I want to see more interesting varieties of time travel.

Others in no particular order: Blue and Orange Morality, Heel Face Turn, Face Heel Turn, Necessary Evil (and other tropes related to Anti Villains.)


Just me
I tend not to be a fan of very specific tropes - stock plots, or stock jokes, or stock characters, the kind that's just doing literally the same thing that's in any number of other works, rather than being a general description of something common to a wide variety of plots/characters. Obviously these things can be done well, and they're often common for a reason - they're not automatically bad. But I gravitate away from those kinds of tropes in my own writing, not exactly out of conscious avoidance but just... that's barely ever where my brain goes. My plotting and characterization and dialogue all generally err on the side of vague/bland rather than tropey.

Some of my favorite tropes of the more general type include (uh, fair warning about my taste in fiction, this list gets pretty dark): Platonic/Heterosexual Life Partners and basically anything to do with characters being willing to do anything for a friend/loved one (I prefer it when there's no romance involved, but there are good romantic examples too) such as Determinator and Undying Loyalty; Heroic BSOD and other forms of horrific psychological breakdown; Cold-Blooded Torture; Trauma Conga Line; Despair Event Horizon; Driven to Suicide; And I Must Scream; The Slow Path; Heroic Sacrifice; Mercy Kill; Survivor Guilt; and You Are Not Alone.


The Pokemon Observer
Although originally I didn't incorporate intentionally any specific trope in my fanfic writing, but because my story planning inspired a lot from Japanese animes and games, where they are notorious for over-repetition of certain stereotypical tropes, so sometimes when my writer's mindset is off and look back in retrospect at my own work from the reader's POV, there then I realized "Hey, didn't this felt like some concept copied from XXX?" or "This stereotype happened a lot also in XXX genre anime". I guess my creativity had long been subconsciously "contaminated" by all the repeated tropes being reused over and over again.

One of the main trope I'm using right now (I don't know its name, I don't know is this trope even named) in my most recent project is the story-writing system of double protagonist, where the two protagonists are 1) A stereotypical shounen protagonist, usually energetic, determined, hot-blooded and/or impulsive, bonus point if he is black/brown short hair with a generic boyish appearance. 2) A handsome guy that is usually a bit older than the former, generally being cool-headed, intelligent, rational yet conditionally emotional, bonus point if he has a Caucasian appearance and European name, and bonus point if his family background is more complicated than the first protagonist.

Am I aware of it? Not when the time I began planning and writing for the first chapter, so this was the case of incorporated a trope without awareness. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. My project is a Pokemon journey fic with many unconventional story point that makes it dissimilar to many traditional journey fic, so the story method of double protagonist is quite a refreshing technique for Pokemon series, despite it was used in many anime genre.