TWITCHING THE TROPE

Posts

Pages: first prev 12 last
author=Ratty524
author=Pizza
Hello do you live on Earth
I do, indeed. Can you honestly name any idea that isn't based on something else?

Jesus fuck this is what RMN has become

That's called inspiration. Are inspired things not original? Who was phone???

Not even being drunk helps
Hey dawg, I get drunk like a gook on soymilk 24/7 and I can whip up shit that'd make Kim Kardashian spray mo' ho milk than a fountain in Philly. Mothafuckas gotta believe, knawwhaddimean.

I'm perfectly content with using tropes for the most part, as long as they fit with what I'm making and I don't feel like I'm shoehorning them in. Perhaps my favorite thing to do with tropes, however, is to deconstruct them and give them realistic consequences in addition to the plot. Deconstructions by themselves are a bit too preachy if done a certain way, though...
The whole discussion on elves (which I was going to comment on earlier, but got sidetracked) reminds me of another trope that's gotten pretty stale to me.

In fantasy and sci fi works, humans tend to be relatively dull and unremarkable. "Humans are average" isn't even that apt a description of the trend; in fantasy works, it's common for humans to be the shortest-lived of all intelligent races, or the only ones without innate magical gifts, or otherwise deficient compared to other races in general. Hell, even the Humans Are Superior page begins, "Humanity, despite all our weaknesses in comparison to most of the other alien races-" the notion of humans not being riddled with weaknesses compared to most other races being scarcely explored in fiction.

The two most common reasons I've seen for humans ascending to positions of dominance over other intelligent species are "technology" and "fast breeding." But when humans have an edge in technology, it's frequently portrayed as a bad thing, with other races being closer to nature, and being portrayed as not adopting technology, not because they couldn't come up with it themselves, but because they don't want to despoil their way of life with it. And humans being the fastest breeding among intelligent beings is awfully ironic considering that in the real world, we're some of the slowest breeding animals on Earth. If our population growth seems fast, it's because our survival rates are so exceptional.

I think there are some interesting dynamics to explore with races with differing abilities from humans, where in some ways to them, humans would appear exceptional, not just in terms of our societal infrastructure and such, but in terms of individual abilities. Like a race that has the verbal intelligence for stories and poetry, but is psychologically incapable of math. Or a race that's much less fierce and warlike than humans, like bonobos compared to chimps, but rather than being a wise and enlightened race that that knows better than to engage in violence, they're really just not mentally equipped for it at all, and by human standards they're all extremely cowardly in the face of danger.
Rave
Even newspapers have those nowadays.
290
I do enjoy cliched characters/stories, if done correctly. Even Mary Sue-like character can be fun if used correctly. I have nothing against tropes as well (lampshaded or not). If they enhance story (or gameplay) instead of making it less fun, I've never had any troubles with those.

Heck, Saints Row series is full of tropes/cliches and I still have great time playing it.
It's hardly possible to make a story that's not full of tropes; they're the recognizable building blocks of stories. Using tropes doesn't mean being unoriginal, like using support beams in the construction of a building doesn't make you an unoriginal architect.

Some tropes are cliches. People have gotten tired of them and want to see alternatives. But some tropes can't really get stale. They're such basic parts of our construction of stories that we'd be hard pressed to think of something as a story without them.
Different races is generally poorly handled. I'm not sure if I agree that humans are dull and unremarkable in fiction though, if anything, it seems the other races are. Often humans are the dullest when you describe them as a race, but it breaks apart once you go down to individual level. Since humans as a whole has no specific traits, each individual is different while the other races usually have traits that almost each member share, thus leaving less room for individuality.
I think that a lot of the time that's a more or less inevitable consequence of having the vast majority of the characters be human. If you have fifty human characters and an elf, then however unique an individual the elf might be among their own people, out of that cast their most visible distinguishing trait will be their elf-ness. If you had a cast of fifty elves and one human, the human would stand out for their human-ness.

Since we naturally tend to think of humans as the default though, it's easy to think of other races as being Human + X, where, once X has been added, you don't see much room for other facets of their personality. It's like how people of any race in real life, lacking significant exposure to members of another race, tend to have a hard time telling members of that race apart. At low levels of exposure, we tend to identify members of a group by the most obvious ways in which they differ from ourselves, and not by how they differ from each other.

Sometimes this implicit bias gets canonized as an explicit fact about the differences between species, with humans being more diverse than other intelligent species (of course we seem more diverse to ourselves!) This is also kind of ironic considering that in the real world, despite our huge population, humans have an unusually low level of genetic diversity within our species compared to most mammals, because we went through a fairly narrow population bottleneck recently in evolutionary time.
author=Desertopa
I think that a lot of the time that's a more or less inevitable consequence of having the vast majority of the characters be human. If you have fifty human characters and an elf, then however unique an individual the elf might be among their own people, out of that cast their most visible distinguishing trait will be their elf-ness. If you had a cast of fifty elves and one human, the human would stand out for their human-ness.

For this purpose, we'd need to compare one group of fifty elves to one group of fifty humans and see how much they differ within each group.

Since we naturally tend to think of humans as the default though, it's easy to think of other races as being Human + X, where, once X has been added, you don't see much room for other facets of their personality. It's like how people of any race in real life, lacking significant exposure to members of another race, tend to have a hard time telling members of that race apart. At low levels of exposure, we tend to identify members of a group by the most obvious ways in which they differ from ourselves, and not by how they differ from each other.

Except that fantasy races are written by someone. If the writer thinks of a race as Human + X, then that will most likely also be what the race is.
Well, yeah, that's the problem. The consequence is that humans end up as a lame species, while whatever else you've got end up as lame characters.
The whole reason I started making an RPG was to play with and subvert the common video game tropes. I realize that that has also been done before and some people find it off-putting, but mine is a pretty personal project anyway so it's my way of connecting with what I enjoyed about games as a kid.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5331
IDK man Welves sound closer to the cliche elves I encounter most of the time than the superior assholes. From my perspective, the assholes would be more refreshing. (I am SO SICK of perfect Mary Sue elves who are all grace and beauty and shit.)

I'm not really a fan of TVTropes as a writing tool (other than maybe seeing if someone's done a thing you're thinking of doing, to avoid accidental copying). It tends to treat stories as piles of Things That Happen, rather than narratives. (Also, absolutely no quality control leading to listings that are anything from confusing to just plain incorrect.)

Mostly I do my writing less with an eye toward, "HOW CAN I MAKE THIS NEW AND DIFFERENT?" and more toward, "OK, what aspects of this kind of story are neglected, and how much fun can I have with them?" A lot of that is just my natural tendency to get bored with the same kind of story.

In the end, I recommend less focus on "tropes" and more on what makes sense for the narrative and themes of the story itself.
author=Sooz
In the end, I recommend less focus on "tropes" and more on what makes sense for the narrative and themes of the story itself.

That I think solves the problems which can arise with tropes.

The danger with tropes lies in them forming predictable patterns and the story looking more like a construction of already seen elements than an actual narrative.

One game I played had the main character black out for a moment. This made me think "okay, he probably has a special power and he tends to be more emotional than reasoning, so he will probably unleash his power during a dramatic moment." The dramatic moment happened and I practically counted down until he unleashed his super-power. Best of all, there was never any explanation as to why the latent power caused him to black out.

Another game had an evil empire. I got to a town where many refuges from war thorn lands came to in order to seek shelter and the people of the town were really nice to the refuges. I immediately knew that this was done so that it would be more upsetting when the evil empire next attacks this town. The game toke me trough a dungeon and when I was about to exit it, I correctly guessed that once outside, I would be treated to a cut-scene where the attack starts.

In both cases, the drama was completely ruined. I saw what the writer was doing rather than the story he wrote.

This problem shouldn't happen if you write what makes sense rather than (consciously or subconsciously) following tropes. This goes even if what makes sense happens to be tropes. As long as you are writing your own story, the tropes should not cause any problems even if your story includes a lot of them. It's when you follow blueprints of tropes that the problems arise.
I don't anyone really intentionally writes to create around tropes. TVTropes is an incredibly interesting insight on the bits and pieces and parts and patterns of various stories and ideas, and its tons of fun to read, but what people usually do with TVTropes when it comes to their own writing is examining tropes as tools, not intentionally writing 'my plot must/should have these tropes'.

Unless you're tripping acid or Salvador Dali or something, most likely any plot any of us are going to write is going to be half constructed of various tropes anyway. They're just gears and parts in a plot, not something to either strive or avoid.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5331
author=Feldschlacht IV
I don't anyone really intentionally writes to create around tropes.

You haven't seen the writing fora on TVTropes, have you? orz

ETA: I think the main issue in how TVT works is that it's an OK resource for "what happened in a story," but they don't really work on why, not just in terms of narrative cause but also why a writer would decide to make the story go in a particular direction.

When you have writers not making conscious choices, that's when you get things like Crystalgate's examples, where a story follows the path a jillion other stories in its genre did, because that's all the writer knows.
Yeah, when people follow tropes, it's not that they are consciously aware of the trope. It's more like the writer writes what she/he knows which is what she/he has already seen.

There's a danger in using tropes as tools if you aren't skilled with them. You want to achieve a certain purpose, so you use a trope that accomplishes said purpose. However, there's a chance the player can go the other direction and predict your story, i.e. you used a certain trope, therefore you're trying to accomplish a certain purpose with it. After all, if you pick up a screwdriver, I'll assume you're going to use it on a screw and not on a nail.

Or if we see tropes as gears and parts of the plot, the player may upon seeing only some of the gears and parts, prematurely figure out the whole plot since the gears and parts shown are pieces of a machine the player is familiar with.
slash
APATHY IS FOR COWARDS
4011
author=LockeZ


First, I'd like to mention that I laughed for like 30 seconds at "The power of shooting the villain with a gun."

Second, this picture can give us some good ideas about how to handle tropes. Obviously, everything in the cliche zone is something we've seen dozens of times - stuff like damsels getting kidnapped, stories about true love, etc. Those are common tropes for a reason - people like stories about love! People like stories where good defeats evil! Maybe it's cultural, maybe it's innate, but there are certain kinds of stories we're attracted to, and stories that make sense to us and we can relate to stick with us. Stories that are truly random are typically unenjoyable because there's not much for us to sync to ourselves.

Still, cliches are predictable by definition, and people enjoy surprise and newness as much as they do relatability. I think the best approach is a combination of the two. With the knowledge of common tropes, you can have the foresight to use them when they fit and discard them when you want to shake things up. People like happy endings, but they lose their power without the occasional Pyrrhic victory, or undebatable loss. A story where the hero ends up alone may be depressing and unsatisfying in many ways, but it also reflects reality, and sometimes that's even better.

(It also occurs to me that cliches and stereotypes very often go hand-in-hand. Liberty's idea for a healer as a tough pirate lady instead of a meek princess is a good example of breaking stereotypes and expanding the types of characters we see, and the way we see people in general.)
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5331
The problem in cliches and stereotypes is the same thing: lazy thinking/writing. They're the low-hanging fruit of communication, and evidence that the writer hasn't really bothered to examine what s/he's doing.

Something stereotypical or cliche in a narrative isn't necessarily a problem on its own,* but it needs to be there for a solid reason. If you can make it not only make sense, but feel like it's a natural outgrowth of the rest of the narrative, then you're using it responsibly. If you're putting it in because "well, that's how stories like this go," then you're being lazy.

* Other than the problem of "I have already seen this a bajillion times and it is now boring as hell."
slash
APATHY IS FOR COWARDS
4011
Agreed! Y'know, I think a lot of game dev problems stem from that same place... For example, sometimes we feel we should add a frequently-used game mechanic because other games have it, not because it's actually an improvement or even relevant to our own game. We throw in ideas from other games without even recognizing that they impact different games differently.

An example I used a while back was Super Mario 64's lives counter, which was treated as important despite affecting basically nothing. The consequence of losing all of your lives was just having to run a little farther to get to zone entrance again.

The more I think about it, the more I believe clichés and stereotypes and overused game mechanics all stem from reliance on what we know is "safe". We know minigames can be fun, so we add them, without realizing why they're fun and how to use them best. The same with clichés... if we're using a cliché, we should understand why it became so popular, why people like it, and study it to see if some tweaks might fit our game better.
I think re-creating a trope to be something entirely new is much harder than creating from scratch. I write books, and all of them were twisted tropes, yet they're happily accepted by the readers because I managed to bend the trope enough to be able to claim it as my own. The real challenge is on how you deal with this 'low-hanging fruit', rather than the fact that it is 'low-hanging'.

Not that I consent just hanging on a trope and opting out of work.
Pages: first prev 12 last