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Friday Fun: Show Me The Tropes!

Happy Friday, Readers! The week has been a long one and we hope you find time to be kind to yourselves. Today we are poking fun and having fun poking at that well worn literary device: Tropes.

Tropes are the bread and butter of literature, time tested and true, and whether you love or hate certain ones, these elements of fiction appear over and over for a reason. A trope done well is a thing of beauty, while twists on well known tropes propel a story into a whole new realm of awesomeness.

But hey, what exactly is a trope?

To the point: A trope is a common convention in a particular medium, used to the point of easy recognition.

A trope refers to phrases, themes, images, character or plot elements that appear often in a genre. Any kind of literary device can become a trope, though usually it refers to widespread ones such as ‘the reluctant hero’

Thinking in cinematic terms, ‘evil overlord’ and 'reluctant hero' are common tropes. Or that superheroes wear capes, a trope hilariously taken to task in Pixar’s Incredibles.

Now for the word nerd moment. In literary terms, there are 8 common types of tropes:

  1. Irony- contrasting expectations vs reality: such as describing a bad situation as ‘the good times’

  2. Allegory- creating images and events that are symbolic: Animal Farm is one of the classic examples

  3. Euphemism- softening the blow of harsh statements: ‘Passing Away’ instead of ‘Dying’

  4. Metaphor- a phrase that contains an implied comparison: 'All the world’s a stage!'

  5. Metonymy- when a word stands in for a concept: ‘Do you need a hand?’ ie, Hand stands in for help

  6. Synecdoche- when a small part represents a whole: ‘Check out my wheels’

  7. Personification- giving human characteristics to inanimate objects: *gestures to Beauty and the Beast*

  8. Simile: comparing two unalike things in a unique way: 'The world is like a stage.'

And there is your fodder for small talk at future awkward gatherings. Some of you may be wondering are tropes really that necessary? Yes, yes they are. Tropes are a vital part of the artistic process. They are how we communicate and find common ground in literature, though some tropes do outlive their usefulness, tropes in general work because people recognize them.

So what are some of Sword & Silk Staff’s Favorite Tropes?

MB: Enemies-to-Lovers, Love Triangles/shapes of all sides, THERE’S ONLY ONE BED

Nicole: Enemies to lovers, love triangles, BAD BOYS!!

JM: Forced proximity, one bed, bad boy with heart of gold, enemies to lovers

Laynie: I’ll be the trend breaker. Friends to lovers. Also, wise mentor characters and found families.

Lucy: BIG fan of forced proximity (including forced isolation), like roommates or lovers. And house parties in historicals, love historical marriage of convenience (not so much contemporary tho), too. I'm a sucker for classic YA ~you're a wizard, Harry, unknown powers. Also beauty & the beast anything.

Kristin: I stan ‘Only One Bed’. Found families and ride or die siblings are my go to tropes. I love me some Reformed Rakes. Oh and Costume Porn in historical romance. Tell me all about your...ruffles. Also a big fan of ‘Your Friendly Neighborhood Vampire’

And Now, A Mini Interview with S & S Staff Member Jennia Herold D’lima

1. Tell us what you do here at S & S?

Much like an actor translates a director’s vision for a character onto the screen, I take an author’s work and tighten, amplify, and strengthen it where needed without sacrificing the original concept.

2. What are some of your experiences in the industry?

I have a long history with writing and editing. In high school and college, I wrote articles and later was an editor for school newspapers, which taught me early on the importance of carefully choosing each word for maximum impact. Graduate school and my first “grown-up” job honed those abilities while introducing me to a bevy of topics and research methods. These experiences and opportunities served me well during my transition a few years ago into professionally editing fiction.

3. What is a trope you absolutely loathe but have come across done well?

I understand plots that require a girl to pass as a boy, so it isn’t the trope so much as how it is executed. When a girl tosses on a hat and some pants and is suddenly unrecognizable, but then she removes these two items (or to keep it PG, just the hat) and is now irresistible to all men. How does this make any sense? Wouldn’t a pretty face always be a pretty face?

In Stalking Jack the Ripper, the main character Audrey Rose requires entrance to many places blocked to women. Necessity requires her to dress as the opposite sex in order to gain entrance. However, she rarely fools anyone who spares her more than a passing glance and there is even a mention of her looking exactly like what she is: a girl wearing pants with her hair pinned up.

4. What are some of your favorite tropes?

Where do I start? Enemies to lovers, the secret heir, the chosen one, bad boys hiding a dark and turbulent past… But my ultimate favorite is rich kids acting badly. Throw in a boarding school and I’m in heaven.

5. Playing off your favorite tropes, if you got transported into a fictional universe, which one would you like to experience first hand, and why?

This is a difficult question since I would probably die a grisly and painful death in many of my favorite

fictional places. However, Hogwarts and the Wizarding World would be worth that risk. Every day there is filled with the possibility for excitement and adventure, with even the most mundane of tasks touched by magic. It is a place where the ordinary is truly extraordinary.

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I'm an absolute sucker for enemies-to-lovers, but even more so friends-to-lovers. I do love forced proximity (i.e. snowed in together). I am also obsessed with fairytale retellings of the adult variety.

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