The Cliché and the Coveted:
In a survey done by yours truly, I have compiled from a range of groups their favorite (and least favorite) tropes in literature. A fair bit of it depends on personal preference, as indicated by the romantics making grabby hands at the newest heart-throbbing drama, and the academics picking apart every nook and cranny of their fiercely wordy novels. That preference can spring from a plethora of options, be it life experience, culture, or the urge to slap a band-aid over our own healing wounds via reading the stories we love.
In my findings I’ve noticed a few trends worth sharing, plus the significance of these few points:
Character A fights Character B, both of them gasping for breath as sword hits sword, and then…
One lowers their sword in surrender. It isn’t like them to surrender. Suddenly the other character at hand finds their mind full of concern. But wait, when did that happen? The usual irritation, envy, or hatred has turned into something unknown— concern? Love? Desire?
No matter the setting or characters, love changes people. (Or aliens, you do you.) Love transcends what it touches and melts the candle wax into a new shape so it may fit in the space of another shape. Two perfect puzzle pieces aligned in the stars. This is simply an additional way to explore the journey.
1. Dynamics, oh, dynamics! Don’t get me started. There is a virtually unlimited arsenal of character dynamics. Do they compliment each other? Directly contradict each other? Complete each other, even?
Dynamics are built upon foundation upon foundation of stories that already exist. This collective grows every day, and we grow with it. Is it Romeo and Juliet, modernized and twisted so that the same old story is still just as impactful and engaging? Or is it the investigator, weakened in his prime by the very culprit he is supposed to catch?
Our most beloved tropes from my peers consist of:
2. Enough about romance, here are some characters and their stories that have been popular:
3. Endings. Is there a perfect way to end a story? I don’t have an answer for you. Setting up a world and a cast of characters and parting with them is, for lack of better word, such sweet sorrow. Again, just as characters and their dynamics are unlimited and ever-changing, so are the methods of concluding a narrative. However different, these options can be divided into a few categories:
All mentioned here is only scratching the surface of tropes and tricks used in writing. If anything should be taken away, it’s that experimenting with your work as a writer + adapting with your audience is crucial to growth, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone. Write that new character with a background different than yours (with research and fact-checking.) Try your hand at a different dynamic and see the fun and loveable storylines evolve before your eyes. When it comes time to crack your knuckles and prepare for the ending, consider each stepping stone of your story and ask yourself how many ways you can take it while making sure it stays adhesive to everything written thus far.
I’m a firm believer in using literature as a form of communication. Reaching out to others between the lines and letting them know they aren’t alone, introducing new ideas that should be spoken about— this is just as important to me as telling the story. New trope or old, or old with a refreshing spin, write it all down and see where it’ll take you.
Del Elizabeth (she/they) is a young creative & dramatic writer from California. She enjoys experimenting with horror and poetry and in her free time, often participates in theatre with her community. You can find her work upcoming in several journals & already published in Anatolios Magazine.