S7E8 – Shoulder Angels

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.

A feature of many stories – from ancient to modern – is a struggle between good and evil, light and dark, selfishness and selflessness. Mankind is usually in between. In some version, especially those that lean towards comedy or parody, it is represented literally with an angel and a devil on the shoulder. Sigmund Freud used Id, Ego, and Superego to represent the same kind of struggle. Knowing these ideas can help author create real, personal struggle for their characters that should, like humans in general, be stuck somewhere in the middle.

First aired February 27, 2020.

About the Author
I'm an editor and cover designer for AspenHouse Publishing. I am also a host for AspenHouse's poscast, Writing Roots.

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