Announcement

Collapse

Welcome to Moorcock's Miscellany

Dear reader,

Many people have given their valuable time to create a website for the pleasure of posing questions to Michael Moorcock, meeting people from around the world, and mining the site for information. Please follow one of the links above to learn more about the site.

Thank you,
Reinart der Fuchs
See more
See less

On generic tropes

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • On generic tropes

    What are the most tired devices in the genre?

    I would begin with a hero who is living as a peasant, but may have royal blood and a throne to reclaim.

    A related topic:

    When do the overworked devices begin to interfere with storytelling for you?

  • #2
    There's a list of tropes online here, and no surprise, your's is #1.

    The one that gets me tho is the powerful, aged wizard who could probably fix the problem in an afternoon, but instead spends the book going on and on about "destiny".

    As for whether they get in the way of the story? Only if the plot is so predictable it takes all of the fun out of it. I enjoy stories that take your assumptions and spin them.

    Also, strong characterization and a sense of humor can cover lots of flaws in a plot.
    Best/Mario

    Comment


    • #3
      A related topic:

      When do the overworked devices begin to interfere with storytelling for you?
      I suppose it depends on what the author is doing with said tropes. Terry Pratchett, for example, mocks quite a few of the worst fantasy cliches. George R.R. Martin's books are made more interesting by his use and understanding of cliche: he gets his readers to expect one outcome or event, then pulls the rug out from under them. A good demonstration of this can be found on the Amazon reviews of A Game of Thrones. At least one reviewer berates the novel for including apparent cliches, then provides predictions for what will happen concerning certain characters. He or she, however, is almost laughably wrong on certain guesses.

      I just don't, however, want to read a paint-by-numbers "clone" novel. Originality is a virtue, but it's absurd to demand that any author be completely original. The originality of some authors (Pratchett and Martin are good examples), moreover, depends on their reinterpretation or subversion of such devices.

      Comment


      • #4
        Great link, Mario!

        I agree that authors who can toy with tropes keep me interested. I may even go along for a formulaic ride when the characters are truly interesting or when humor is invovled. DeCamp is another who can make you laugh. He seemed aware of the tropes before they were entrenched.

        On the other hand, I lose patience and interest with authors who think they are bending formulae and tropes, and only reinforce what is tired about them in the first place.

        Comment


        • #5
          That list does cover alot,haha.

          I really need to get my hands on the Martin books.


          ya, I guess it is tough to have all the story elements original. Mankind has been around for a long time and some of the general themes have been used over and over again, een when they were not written down. There are always new twists and additions to be made on old ideas.

          a characters starting background is limited, either they are already a prince or wealthy/powerful or they are poor or average. On of Feist's heroes was a blacksmith, but that still goes with the farmhand idea. I guess you would call it the humble origins.

          then there are the tales that start the character as having everything, then losing it, to later learn the error of his ways and learn morals that later lead him.her to become a great hero.

          I liked some of those old D&D stories,like Gygax's Gord for instance that is just trying to survive on the planet and get a little ahead for himself, then once in awhile get caught up in an adventure, of course all that changed as the hero became more powerful and later had to fight demons of the Abyss and so forth and make incredible changes on the world, it turned into another humble start to becoming almost a God, maybe a Half-God.

          I think some writers get into a habit of, where can I go from here? They would start by having a character who barely survived a minor skirmish to becoming the General Of All Armies to later challenge existence and reality.

          ya, there are alot of recycled plots out there, being intentional or not. :)

          "With a deep, not-unhappy sigh, Elric prepared to do battle with an army." (Red Pearls)
          - Michael Moorcock

          Comment


          • #6
            Glad you liked it. :)
            Best/Mario

            Comment


            • #7
              A french proverb says that 90 % of novels could be called either "Lost illusions " or " Sentimental education " ( frome the tittles of two books by Balzac and Flaubert ).

              Fantasy does not escape the dilemna....... even Elric story from a particular point of view......

              Tropes or " clichés " are difficult to escape. What makes the difference are the talent and imagination of the author.

              A trope who begins to be used : the men or women of ourr world who are thrown in a fantasy world.

              Sometimes almost good or good work ( River of dancing gods or Fionnavar tapestry) or bad work ( Rosenberg' s Guardian of the flame ( ? ) )

              But, too often these autors use tropes, a powerfull magician, a world to be saved, a Maugrim ...... etc .......

              the advantage of escaping the classical tropes are lost and the inconvenient of having the feeling of something once more red is present ....

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Doc
                On the other hand, I lose patience and interest with authors who think they are bending formulae and tropes, and only reinforce what is tired about them in the first place.
                An example might be (from the list posted by Pease in the Enclave) an author who makes Elves and Dwarves friends instead of foes, reversing Tolkien, not realising that, since Tolkien, using Elves and Dwarves in the first place is hackneyed.

                That's quite an extensive list posted by Mario esp if you try the xtra links at the bottom of the page.

                Comment


                • #9
                  So, can you write a fantasy story that doesn't use *any* of the cliches and/or tropes of fantasy? And if you could, would it still be fantasy anyway?
                  _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                  _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                  _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                  _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think it's important to differentiate between a folkloric motif, like "young man discovers his destiny" and a cliche, like "young man discovers he's the lost king, hidden by an aged wizard who pretends to be an old nutcase".

                    Motifs are (arguably) OLDER than fantasy. You can't really get away from them. But cliches are easier to dodge. Of course, if you become popular (hi Mike!) you spawn off a whole new set. :)
                    Best/Mario

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by David Mosley
                      So, can you write a fantasy story that doesn't use *any* of the cliches and/or tropes of fantasy? And if you could, would it still be fantasy anyway?


                      a form of escapist fantasy fiction could probably still exist. ;)


                      if I use the terms correctly,hehe.

                      if it has a strange setting and made up objects, animals and people, it might still get away from cliches and still be fantasy. /shrug

                      "With a deep, not-unhappy sigh, Elric prepared to do battle with an army." (Red Pearls)
                      - Michael Moorcock

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A young guy who is talented in the ***,becomes a student/apprentice in the school concerning the ***.There is a very powerful guy that teaches him and some others who may specialise in certain subjects.There is another one,strong in the *** but he is the bad guy. He may kill some of the good tutors,even the strongest of them only to die because of the young good guy who proves to be stronger in the ***.
                        ***=magic in earthsea,harry potter or Force in Star wars.

                        A guy starts to find a certain powerful object in order to destroy the bad guy.Sometimes he has it from the begining and has to destroy it.

                        The bad guys are there just to be slaughtered.They have no friends,no families,no feelings.The hero just chops their bloody heads off because he is the good guy and they are...well..they actually admit it...the bad guys.

                        The good guys are handsome and the women are supermodels.Good and bad.Usually the bad females are more sexy than the good ones though.

                        The rpg syndrome.A group consisted of different races or of guys that each one has a special ability.You don't need to have an elf and a paladin.A good bowman/ranger and a good swordman would do.I can't forget the scene in the awful Dnd movie when the dwarf gets in...They meet him by chance and he starts fighting the bad guys and follows the good guys,till the very end.

                        The fighters wear their arms ALL DAY long.Even if they are not in a war,they have nothing else to wear,it seems.The archers have super bows.The string of the bow is always tight but the bow remains in excellent condition.

                        In the past,there was a great civilisation but...
                        There is no progress in science-technology for centuries and centuries.


                        I have some links and articles..somewhere.I should look for them.
                        Last edited by Heiron; 09-07-2006, 09:56 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by David Mosley
                          So, can you write a fantasy story that doesn't use *any* of the cliches and/or tropes of fantasy? And if you could, would it still be fantasy anyway?
                          Exactly!

                          As a writer currently attempting a Fantasy thingy, that list really knocked the wind out of my sails. I mean, it implied that you should only write about worlds with fair elections in them (no monarchies or theocracies), because to do otherwise is "cliche". Eep!

                          The problem with cliches (aside from the accent over the "e") is that they often have some truth or value in them. Personally I don't want to read a story where the hero takes four pages to restring his bow, and check the flights of his arrows. Magic bow = Happy reader.

                          The story is the thing, and in the process of telling a story some things have to be sacrificed or fudged. Shakespeare is considered one of the finest writers in the English language, but can you honestly say he didn't repeat himself or cut corners? In fact he often repeated other writers' hooks and tricks, so what chance do the rest of us have?

                          Good list though! Gave me some laughs... very nervous, guilty laughs...
                          "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Dee, I'm confident that any fantasy you do will be far from ordinary or cliche (with or without the accent mark over the e )

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Actually, the list killed it stone dead! I can't beat those odds.

                              I'll probably always be a wannabe Dungeon Master, but that doesn't mean I have anything to add to the genre worth adding. Best to stick with what I know (relatively speaking).
                              "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X