Across all forms of story, you can find similarities and themes. Plots have recognizable structures, main characters almost always fight for good in some way, and there is usually a change in status quo. Sometimes, though, those themes transform into tropes, whether good or bad. Tropes are devices or elements used in story-telling that become recognizable through their consistent use. Like any other literary device, tropes are tools. They are not inherently bad, nor inherently good. We are taking this month to talk about some of the more common tropes, what they are, how they can be used correctly, and why you should be aware they exist.
It’s a trope you’ll see most often through the Young Adult and Romance genres: the Mary Sue. It’s the main character who is all-powerful, loved by all, and yet somehow described as plain or common. It’s a stand-in for the author, and in some cases (Twilight) an “everywoman” stand-in vague enough in all ways that the reader can be the main character. It’s one of the most dangerous tropes when it comes to having a story with depth.
First aired February 3, 2020.
If you’re wanting to learn more about tropes and the many different kinds out there, visit tvtropes.org.