What’s a Trope?

BookBlogWriMo prompt: Favourite Book Tropes

*Quickly googles “book tropes”*

Quick definition: In storytelling, a trope is just that — a conceptual figure of speech, a storytelling shorthand for a concept that the audience will recognize and understand instantly. Above all, a trope is a convention. It can be a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom… you know it when you see it.

(Just so you know, none of these are their “proper” trope names.)

Hmm…so like retellings of traditional stories? Stuff like modernizations or reinventions of mythology, fairytales, or classics are always going to be a favourite of mine.

I’m a sucker for coming of age stories too. Midnight Robber, Spirited Away, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians—all amazing.

There’s also the daughter-breadwinner: young women who have to support their family. Katniss Everdeen, Parvana…that’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Oh, and the nerdy loner like Carter Kane from The Kane Chronicles, Bilbo in The Hobbit, or Q from Paper Towns. Books need more Sheldon Coopers.

awkward sheldon

…I guess that could also be classified as the young prodigy like Ender or Bean. There may or might not be a manic pixie dream girl involved, though I’m not particularly fond of them.

But I do like the unlikely best-friend/lover. I just didn’t want to write this trope twice. Unlikely friends are like Silena and Clarisse from PJO. The “lover” is where the trope takes an extra step and makes the best friend the best romantic partner. Like Tan-Tan and Melonhead from Midnight Robber, Percy and Annabeth.

A side note: Seriously, read Midnight Robber and you ship those two so hard. Melonhead is Tan-Tan’s only friend and he’s so in love with her though she doesn’t really know what love is. And for most of the book Melonhead is this awkward geeky guy. I didn’t notice it during my first read-through, but as I was writing my paper on Midnight Robber and I found this when Tan-Tan shows him her camp:

Tan-Tan had told him how she slept snuggled next to Abitefa for warmth and he’d [Melonhead] said sweetly, “You don’t have to do that tonight, sweetheart. I here.”

Melonhead you smooth piece of sh*t.

Magic. Just magic. And/or time travel.

How about inventive interpretation? Like the prophecies in PJO that have unexpected twists in their outcome, or how Neville might have been Harry Potter?

Is Leo Valdez a trope? That brilliant character with the tortured backstory and the jokester attitude? Can that be a trope?

Check out more posts on the BookBlogWriMo 2014 Master Post!

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