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The Thing About Tropes

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

So, your story’s been written? Yes, many times over. But, if plots weren’t meant to be recycled, not a reader in the world would read the same book twice and Shakespeare would be out of a legacy. Yet, Romeo and Juliet has been retold, reimagined, turned on its head, and beaten down to its core elements and is still a trope readers clamber to find. With all the information out there on how to make your story original, here are four reasons to let your writing fall into tropes:

1. Comfort in familiarity

Readers are creatures of comfort and once a genre grips them, they’ll look for the same elements over and over again. The plot is never boring because no two perspectives are the same and no two events will unfold exactly alike. The familiarity of the plot lends itself to an easier job on the reader to suspend belief and fall into the story like a nice warm bed in the middle of December. There will always be an audience waiting on the other side of that trope, and it won’t feel tired or overworked if it’s done well.

2. Common concepts can convey a complicated idea

If you’re the same kind of writer I am, you may tend to overwhelm your story with too many ideas at first, turning eloquent thoughts into alphabet soup. Tropes can lend a road map to successfully navigate the twists and turns of a complicated sub-plot or sub-theme. If you’re trying to put a complicated idea into words, using a trope can make the work easier and maybe you’ll even finish that first draft by starting with the knowns.

3. Familiar plots ease readers into unfamiliar worlds

Think Star Wars. At its core, the series is a retelling of every western ever. If you’re introducing your readers to a whole new world (cue Princess Jasmine song here), it’s probably a good idea to start them off with something they already have a hang of from common tropes. Especially if it’s a series; start off tame, then lead into some wackier ideas in the sequels.

4. It’s one of the best ways to strengthen your writing skills

Similar to my first point, tropes are a thing because people like them. A trope, done well, won’t feel tired or over-done. If you’re confident in your world-building and your characters, a great way to explore them with your reader is by putting them in a situation that audiences know and love to see if they hold up under the scrutiny. If the plot is feeling tired, then you know where your work needs to go in building up that skill.

These days, I’m all about taking the pressure off of the one thing I consider a passion so it doesn’t turn into yet another stress point in my life. If that means letting myself relish in tropes for a while, maybe it’s a good thing. And you know what? I’m sick of people telling me what I can’t do with my writing. It’s my trope, and I’ll write what I want to, write what I want to.

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