Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Joy of Tropes

Posted by: PG Forte
I nearly forgot about this post. There was some jockeying of days and I had taken the reminder off my calendar and didn't remember until the last minute. I was mentioning this to a friend and she jokingly suggested I claim amnesia as the reason why I didn't post anything. Which actually tied into what I had already planned to blog about, which is tropes.

It's not a subject I spend a lot of time thinking about until very recently. All Romance eBooks is running a series of trope-related posts all month long. Not coincidentally, yesterday's topic was amnesia and yes, one of my books was mentioned in their post. It still surprises me that I have an amnesia book, by the way, since I don't generally care for that particular trope. In fact, as I looked over the list of various romance tropes they're planning to explore this month, I realized I have books that fit into quite a few of them. It's something of a problem.

Like most authors (I think most. Certainly a lot of us feel this way) I hate the thought of writing what feels like the same book over and over again with only slight variations. I'd get bored and I've convinced myself that if I write bored, I'll end up boring my readers. And who needs that? I get a lot of different ideas and I try a lot of different things and have a pretty eclectic mix of stories to show for it...and probably some readers who are just as confused about exactly what kinds of books I write as I am. Will the real PG Forte please stand up?

But change is good, right? Different is good. That's what I tell myself, A Chorus Line to the contrary.  But, as a reader, what I really want is the same. I want the same kinds of stories told over and over again. Different voices, different styles, different settings, but still the same basic theme or storyline.   As a reader, I'm kind of boring. As a reader, I study blurbs and book descriptions looking for new books that are just like the old books I already have and love. In other words: I look for tropes. I've been doing that since long before I even heard the word or new what it meant, without even realizing I was doing it.

I guess that's part of the reason that tropes are so popular with readers. They provide consistency, familiarity. They're very comforting. You can dive into a new story by an unfamiliar author and still know exactly what to expect (and still manage to be surprised by the way in which events unfold, by a three-dimensional character or an unanticipated plot twist).

As a writer, I've also come to appreciate tropes for their utility. They're a shortcut, a quick and easy way to break down complicated stories and help readers decide which book is right for them. This one is a secret baby story. This is a reunited lover story. This is a tortured hero story. This one? Well, that's got all three of those tropes crammed into one tiny novella. I did mention it's a problem, right?  Hi. My name is PG and I'm a trope abuser.

What are some of your favorite tropes?


  1. And oops, I wish I could plead amnesia that I didn't clear the final result of the schedule trading with you! Great post - I love the way you "abuse" tropes LOL - please keep doing what you're doing!

  2. I do like amnesia stories and may have done written that one more than once... I've been trying to think of some fantasy tropes. Does guy-cursed-to-be-a-dragon count?

  3. I think guy cursed to be a dragon is an awesome trope. :D

    And thanks so much Veronica. Sorry for the confusion!


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