What People Don’t Say (Enough) About Tropes

(Featured) Lilli

December 1, 2019

The discussion of tropes and clichés in writing often go hand in hand, with the term trope commonly referring to an occurring literary element across mass media, and cliché meaning nearly the same thing, just with a more negative connotation. 

One would say a trope is a vampire who drinks blood, whereas a cliché is a vampire who falls for a teenage girl. The idea is that the repetition of such a work is the reason for the subpar, mediocre quality of it. Particularly in literature.

However, there are many flaws with such an argument – with one of them being that it is primarily hyper-focused on young women – but even ignoring the misogyny that often exposes itself in arguments made against clichés, the excessive act of portraying clichés and, ultimately, tropes in a negative way often reduces the confidence of young writers looking to improve their writing skills. 

I for one used to hold the belief that it was a story’s originality that made it good. However, in digging deeper into the culture of constructive criticism, it became apparent that “originality” was, in essence, just shock value (and often at the cost of exploiting minorities). Because of this prevalent idea that clichés make or break a story, more and more young writers sacrifice creative ideas in the name of largely discriminatory tropes and emotionless prose.

Tropes, to an extent, are merely writing devices. However, the way you execute the trope, rather than the trope itself, is what clichés nowadays are heavily dependent on.

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