Questions tagged [tropes]

For questions about commonly-used storytelling devices, such as character stereotypes, plot devices and other tricks of the trade.

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How to make a "perfect op" character not so op

As a challenge by a friend. I was dared to make a super "special snowflake syndrome" character likable despite the cliches. This is what I came up with. In a dnd-like world, supernaturals ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
124 views

What is the sub-genre/trope of the characters in a multi-POV story all coalescing in violent mayhem called?

Imagine your typical multi-POV story, with an urban setting and within the action genre, boasting a lot of not-so-upstanding citizens for characters. These characters are spread about, some with ...
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2 votes
2 answers
141 views

Action-packed opening events: cliché or not?

Not a duplicate of Trying to avoid being cliché as that question asks about the opening line, rather than an opening event. I am trying to avoid the many clichés out there, so I had a question about ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
78 views

Original source of "Hero's Journey," and related writing tropes?

Where can I find the basic texts on a story theory - books or things like that that discuss ideas like the "Chosen One" and the "Hero's Journey"?
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12 votes
1 answer
3k views

Is there a phrase that means "a character suddenly gets a lot of development right before they die"?

If I remember correctly, there is a phrase meaning "a character suddenly gets a lot of development right before they die". However I have forgotten the name and can't find it. Perhaps I am ...
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7 votes
4 answers
4k views

What are some signs of a chosen one nebulous enough that they can be mistaken?

The setup: We have a fantasy world. A while back (like, 30-100 years; not really sure yet) a prophecy was given that basically outlined a chosen one. More specifically it outlines a reincarnate of a ...
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1 vote
1 answer
139 views

How to construct the "inner layers" of a character: a doubt on construction of the psyche of fictional characters and bibliography suggestions

First of all, this is a question that was asked aiming good bibliography suggestions and tips. Secondly, my question could be cast into the famous interrogative sentence: "How can I construct ...
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1 vote
1 answer
111 views

Name of the argument for defending in-fiction atrocities based on historical accuracy?

I remember reading up about an argument, but I can't recall or find what it was called. It basically boiled down to this - because in either our real history or the history of a given fictional world ...
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  • 121
10 votes
7 answers
4k views

I love the world and characters I've created for my story, but I dislike the plot. How can I proceed?

I've spent several years periodically writing and developing a high fantasy story I mean to turn into a book, or even a series depending on how much material I write. However, lately, I've realized I ...
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2 votes
3 answers
180 views

Does including a lot of tropes in a single idea pay off well?

The other day, I was working on a Supernatural Fiction genre and I was stuck in a dilemma. I had two choices, whether I could focus on one trope, that is, just the vampires and their conspiracies or I ...
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7 votes
5 answers
912 views

Averting Bathos

Bathos is a storytelling technique that consists in the rapid succession of 2 “moments” with conflicting tones. This trope occurs when a serious moment gets followed by a gag. One of the many, many ...
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16 votes
7 answers
4k views

Subverting the emotional woman and stoic man trope

In my post-apocalyptic story, the split of male and female main/supporting characters is 50/50. The girls and women in the story, Eris, Marina, and Ezrith, display very little emotion--Eris ...
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32 votes
7 answers
5k views

Writing a love interest for my hero

If I'm going to face down a dragon, Mob boss, evil corporation, or a demon from the 7 circles of hell or dystopian dictator, etc, it's not going to be to rescue my buddy Herbert, or cousin Jimmy. The ...
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4 votes
6 answers
380 views

Averting Always Chaotic Evil

Always Chaotic Evil denotes an entire species in a fictional setting as outright evil - no matter how one treats them, they reward kindness with treachery and violence. Frequent recipients of this ...
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9 votes
9 answers
10k views

Is killing off one of my queer characters homophobic?

(For reference, I am queer.) In my post-apocalyptic novel and in the short story from the novel's antagonist's perspective, my MC, Eris' love interest, Caspian, has/had two mothers, Saskia and Ezrith ...
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17 votes
4 answers
9k views

What's it called when the bad guy gets eaten?

Is there a specific name for the plot device in which the story's "Big Bad" has a cunning plan to use some monstrous being to further their diabolical machinations. This may be something summoned from ...
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21 votes
9 answers
6k views

What are some bad ways to subvert tropes?

I recently came across something I wrote in 4th or 5th grade, where the MCs, a girl and a boy, were superheroes. One wore a blue costume with knives, and the other wore a pink one with flowers... BUT ...
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19 votes
5 answers
4k views

Term for a character that only exists to be talked to

I just saw a two-person play where one character did the majority of the talking and the other seemed to exist only to give the other character someone to talk to. I've seen this happen in books and ...
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42 votes
12 answers
12k views

Averting Real Women Don’t Wear Dresses

Real Women Don’t Wear Dresses is when writers portray female characters possessing traditional feminine qualities as being less desirable, competent and reliable instead of their tomboy foils. They ...
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33 votes
12 answers
6k views

How can I convince my reader that I will not use a certain trope?

Imagine a fantasy story in which there once was a very powerful evil divine being, but it was defeated long before the beginning of the story. For the story it is very important that it was defeated, ...
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21 votes
11 answers
6k views

Avoiding cliches when writing gods

When writing fictional polytheisms, it's tempting to draw inspiration from the existing ones. In ancient religions (I'm mainly thinking of the Greek/Latin, Egyptian and Norse pantheons) there are ...
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19 votes
16 answers
6k views

How do I subvert the tropes of a train heist?

What are the recognizable tropes to a "train heist", or more broadly the action sequences where a protagonist boards a moving train in order to stop it? My protagonist is the unreliable guile ...
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1 vote
2 answers
212 views

How can I make an eldritch abomination out of humanity? [closed]

The fanfic I'm writing is so that I may get into the swing of literature. A test story if you might like in the Mass Effect Universe. Please prepare for a long text because there's a lot of trivia ...
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16 votes
9 answers
4k views

How to compactly explain secondary and tertiary characters without resorting to stereotypes?

Sure, I understand the characters, but that's because I've been thinking about them. But how do I transfer that knowledge to the reader without taking the time and space to flesh them out further?? ...
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41 votes
13 answers
17k views

Avoiding the "not like other girls" trope?

The "not like other girls" trope is pretty common in young adult fiction, arguably misogynistic, and usually applied to a female protagonist or love interest. Attempts to make a female character ...
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27 votes
14 answers
5k views

Non-trope happy ending?

This is in the idea stage, but I was wondering... In stories involving multiple protagonists (4 or more) that make and end relationships, date each other, etc. during the course of the story, the ...
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8 votes
8 answers
602 views

Including disabled characters without "inspiration porn"

We all have seen the headlines: "Touching Moment Where Autistic Boy is Asked to Prom", "Watch This Child With Downs Win Her Heat During a Swim Competition", etc., that are touching at first glance, ...
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55 votes
22 answers
14k views

How do I avoid the "chosen hero" feeling?

In many works of genre-fiction (I'm talking mainly about fantasy and sci-fi, but others genres can apply), and across many forms of media, the main characters ends up being special in some ways. ...
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25 votes
3 answers
7k views

Chekhov's gun, but it's just "useless" background info

We all know how Chekhov's gun works: in short, it's the "rule" that whatever is explicitly shown to the audience should be important later, otherwise you should get rid of it. Don't show us a gun if ...
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0 votes
1 answer
132 views

How is a semordnilap typically used?

I am asking whether I should use it as a hint to make it clear that my story is about the story of Adam and Eve. In my short story, there's a place called "Nede", with two characters called "Mada" ...
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64 votes
14 answers
27k views

Is the "hero guy saves girl" trope misogynistic?

(Question about my hacker (hacking??) novel.) Just an FYI, I am a woman. Edward is a cyber spy and works with an organization named Vox Populi to curate and release all data online, especially the ...
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88 votes
9 answers
16k views

Using real words from a foreign culture feels like 'Calling a rabbit a "smeerp"'

I'm working on a novel, that's set in pre-Islamic Persia, in the same general way that The Lord of the Rings is set in Britain. (Meaning, it's set in a world all its own, but there's this source of ...
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4 votes
5 answers
4k views

Why using the "It Was All Just a Dream" Trope?

There is a particular trope that became quite infamous across many media: the "it was just a dream" revelation, where, usually at the end of a important story arc, everything turns back to the start ...
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2 votes
1 answer
257 views

Comic Cruelty - Examples

In the movie Inglourious Basterds, there are many scenes employing what I can only describe as "comic cruelty". Acts of barbarity that yet somehow inspire glee and revelry in the audience. Anyone who'...
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1 vote
3 answers
451 views

Averting Protagonist-Centred Morality

Protagonist-Centred Morality is when a fictional work is eager to point out when an antagonist does something immoral or distasteful but fails to acknowledge when a protagonist does the same or ...
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10 votes
7 answers
814 views

Can dream reveals make good climaxes for a POV’s internal struggle?

Dream twists just spoil our senses of disbelief. I can see how that can be excetuted carelessly, but if done for the need of showing what the main character wants or fears most then maybe it would be ...
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25 votes
4 answers
8k views

How to Write an Eldritch Abomination?

My trilogy features an otherworldly monstrosity called Fenrisúlfr as it's primary antagonist, whose characterisation takes cues from Nyarlathotep, Sauron, Showa!King Ghidorah, Sutekh, Makuta Teridax ...
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-2 votes
2 answers
310 views

How to defeat a strategic mastermind without throwing the idiotball? [duplicate]

My antagonist is a "strategic mastermind", similar to the one discussed in How to prevent seeming like a Marty Stu-ish villain is cheating? Proceeding from this kind of antagonist, my question is how ...
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4 votes
3 answers
379 views

How to make a harmless villain

TvTropes alert! Harmless villains are the straightforward opposite of a complete monster and the typical evil overlord in fantasy, and so, creating one who can raise the steaks or look threatening is ...
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18 votes
6 answers
3k views

Avoiding Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy

Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy is when the audience is put off by the incredibly dark nature of a fictional work and won't care what happens next, lose interest or want all the characters to die off....
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6 votes
5 answers
2k views

What makes for a successful resurrection?

If you've seen Avengers: Infinity War, you'll recall the line "No resurrections this time" being said in the scene just after the first (arguably second) on-screen death of a main character at the ...
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  • 1,611
4 votes
1 answer
268 views

What's the name of the trope that means fae can't cross over unless a human crosses over first?

There's a trope I remember, having a denizen of the fae realm only be able to cross over to the human world once a human has first crossed over to their world. Though I remember seeing it multiple ...
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3 votes
3 answers
470 views

How Many Tropes Are Allowed In a Short Story?

I am trying to add some dramatic ‘zombie-virus’ suspense to a short-story about boy-meets-girl young love, which already has an unlikely (but not the first sort of) antagonist The boy named Ethan is ...
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  • 1,312
17 votes
5 answers
2k views

How can I convey an absolute truth from the author to the reader without a mentor character?

There are sometimes moments in works of fiction where the author needs to convey something to the reader without ambiguity. Let's say the situations around the characters get so weird that the author ...
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  • 3,729
30 votes
6 answers
14k views

Dead parents: something to avoid?

A lot of people die in my story, some of them are parents. One of the main characters for example lost his father (and one brother) in a car crash when he was young, which he was a part of. He became ...
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  • 4,175
2 votes
1 answer
290 views

What's the term used to describe a twist which is badly written because the twist is based on information not yet available to audience? [closed]

Context: In my question How did Olaf know?, I asked about a twist in the TV series A Series of Unfortunate Events, adapted from a book series of the same name. My understanding: Twists, whether good (...
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  • 155
2 votes
4 answers
234 views

What are some tropes associated with social acceptance or rejection of infants with supernatural abilities?

Are there any tropes regarding how societies react to children with supernatural abilities, besides abandoning in the woods or, for the complete opposite, considering them gods? Is there anything ...
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24 votes
11 answers
7k views

Is there any way to get around having everyone in the world speak the same language? [closed]

You see this a lot in fantasy fiction, where everyone on the planet (and sometimes beyond) speaks the same language, even though it makes absolutely no logical sense for them to have any knowledge of ...
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2 votes
1 answer
4k views

What are common writing tropes in dark romance? [closed]

What are common writing tropes in dark romance? What do readers expect from a dark romance? For those of you who don’t know what “dark romance” is, here is a list of examples https://www.goodreads....
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-1 votes
3 answers
854 views

Avoiding "kill it off for DRAMA" trope whilst doing it

Why hello there, old sports. I guess we all know the spiel with this one, but I tell you anyway, using this handy-dandy step-list: You introduce a character who is likable. (optional)Keep him around ...
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