This month #InkRipples is exploring the topic of literary tropes.
For my post I’m going to use the Wikipedia definition of the word trope which has come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works.
It’s interesting to me that agents, publishers, other authors, and even readers call out for originality, yet tropes – like a story formula – are popular. Yes, walking that line between originality and familiarity can be very difficult.
I asked a few of my super smart author friends what some of their favorite tropes are for both reading and writing.
Editor and author coach and YA author, Trish Wilkinson likes the trope of the victorious underdog. She uses the trope in both fiction and nonfiction.
Marie Harte – who knows her way around a spicy love story – loves the enemies to lovers trope. I admit, I do too. I discovered it in my late teens/early twenties when I picked up my first Harlequin Romance. To this day my heart starts to beat faster when a girl has a negative reaction to a drop dead gorgeous guy – ‘cause you know where that’s gonna lead.
Mystery and western romance author, Paty Jager, seconded the underdog trope and added the ugly duckling-to-swan theme, which I explored in my middle grade book, The Lumpy Duckling. Paty also mentioned a trope I hadn’t previously heard of, the librarian to lion. You can find an example of it in the movie The Mummy – love that movie! But since reading is your thing, you’ll find it in Paty’s book, Davis: Letters of Fate.
Generally when I’m planning a book, I like to take a trope that appeals to me and then twist it to provide an unexpected viewpoint. In TheLumpy Duckling, the unattractive character does become handsome, but I explore how that impacts the relationship with his best friend. In King of Bad I took the outcast/coming of age theme but applied to it the villain and how he finds his place in the world. I believe readers like the familiarity and comfort of a literary trope, but are also pleased when the story takes an unexpected turn.
What are a couple of your favorite tropes? Or which tropes are you just plain over!?