Thursday, August 6, 2015

Respecting the Building Blocks

About a year ago, I was on one panel, and my initial response to a audience member's question was, "That's a bad cliché that gets overdone."   After a bit more discussion, I said, "I want to amend what I said earlier.  I should say that it's a common trope that's easy to do badly."
Because you can't hate on genre tropes.  They're the building blocks of all the storytelling points we work with.  Sure, some of them have been done to death, and yes, a lot of times they signpost where a story is going so perfectly that you could write an accurate summary of the whole things after just getting through the first quarter of it.
But that's all right.  Because the other side of using tropes is finding ways to subvert or tweak them, or combine them in new ways.
After all, using tropes is often the easiest way to describe our stories.  I had to embrace The Thorn of Dentonhill being called "Harry Potter As Batman", or A Murder of Mages being referred to as a "fantasy novel buddy cop movie".  Both descriptions tells you, quite simply (though perhaps too simply) what you're going to get and what to expect.  
And our best use of tropes, as storytellers, is using them to both manage and subvert expectations.  Stay on the path too narrowly, audience gets bored; deviate too wildly, audience gets lost.  
All right, time to head into the word mines.  See you down there.

No comments: