Knowing Your Own Tropes

I speak from experience when I say: if you write enough, fast enough, you will repeat yourself. And you will notice that you are repeating yourself.

And I don’t just mean certain words or phrases or descriptions. I mean entire plot points. Character types. Ways to have a situation play out—down to the pacing of it. Your artistic “voice” is like a thumbprint, and you can’t help but put it on everything you touch.

And, since I am—perhaps—too aware of myself, I worked out some of my “tropes” and trappings, which I cannot help but do. When I brainstorm, these are what I will go for as an automatic thing. And, since I figured it might be fun, I’ll present a few of them in a random order as I think of them.

  • Killing a character when I don’t have a use for them anymore or if having them still be alive would cause a plot hole.
  • Implying supernatural or technological phenomena by having something be up with the eyes. Especially through the presence of non-natural colors, or glowing, or both.
  • Stretching the limits of realism (anatomical or kinetic realism) for the sake of having a more entertaining fight scene, or a more horrific death scene.
  • Extreme body disfiguration for the sake of trying to disturb the reader.
  • Figuring out the worst, most tragic, most brutal way I could end a character’s story. Bonus points if I can make it ironic.
  • Plot points which are a counterargument/critique to tropes I personally don’t like in popular stories.
  • Winding, vaguely pretentious dialogue, usually attempting to end with a one-liner or witty retort or even a plot revelation.
  • Detailed descriptions of monsters, aliens, certain pieces of technology, and liquids, but not a lot of focus put on building’s architecture or vehicle models or character’s wardrobes.
  • Trying to work in a character’s name naturally in the dialogue. I don’t like having to state a character’s name in narration, as the narrator.
  • A heavy focus on what a character does with their hands, fingers, eyes, and mouth during any given scene.
  • A lot of evil smiles or laughs.

And those are just the ones I can think of now. I’m sure there are others. What are some of the storytelling habits you find yourself using all the time? If someone in an English class was studying your work, what might the teacher point out as part of your style?

Post them in the comments, if you feel like, and I’ll have a story for you on Saturday. Which now I guess you can try to deconstruct with this handy guide.

Special thanks to: Bob GerkinCollin PearmanDylan AlexanderJerry Banfield, and Michael The Comic Nerd. 

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