I have to take a hiatus from my Writerly Sound Bites series this week, readers. Hopefully I’ll be back with another one next week, but for the present, enjoy the great piece from J.D. Cowan in the link below. Be sure to check out my newsletter as well, or you might miss some exclusive content you will not find here at Song. 😉
Hope Against Trope
One thing we as writers and audiences don’t tend to ask is what stories are actually for. Why do we consume them so eagerly and so intensely? And what is it these old weird tales had that prevents so many modern ones from sticking as well or reaching as big an audience as older stories did. What happened? I have a theory as to why some of this might be the case. It is simply a matter of disorganized thinking and mismatched priorities.
Stories have been around for a long time, but they haven’t always been the same as they are today. In fact, in many ways, we are more limited today than we were when storytelling itself began countless centuries ago. Limitations aren’t always a problem, but in the 21st century where mainstream book publishers have killed off reading as a hobby, it is an epidemic.
Today I thought I would cover a controversial subject in writing circles that I’ve never quite seen as controversial, partially because I tend to not look at things from a writer’s perspective but from an outsider. This way I can get a more neutral position which is what led to my view on the subject. I didn’t form these thoughts out of nowhere. Whether from NewPub or OldPub, the same advice is always given on this subject, which is always a good sign that it is misguided and out of date. I am of course speaking of tropes, and the worship of them by modern writers.
In this day and age, just about everyone knows what tropes are. Even though they’ve always existed, it appears that in the modern day they are inescapable. From the teenager guffawing at the snarky leader who makes funny quips, to the very educated collage student who nods sagely at the female lead not needing any man, to the adult clapping along when the comic relief references a video game made in the 1990s, tropes are everywhere. They rule all.
And that is exactly the problem: they don’t.