Cooking the (Right) Books — Ignoring Trope-ish Cliche

Origins of the Term

The first usage of the term trope finds its origin in Greece, though it was not first noted as anything literary in nature. Rather, at its inception, the term tropos was usually coined as a “turn, direction, or way,” though there is the occasional nod to defining it as an “alteration” or “change.” In its youth, a trope was a pillar of classical rhetorical strategy, described sometimes as a twist or turn utilized by orators across the political spectrum.

The idea of trope rose out of the desire to classify effective arguments, to understand the finest way to bridge the gap between creator and consumer. The idea of cliche rose out of the desire to spoon feed where the consumer should be expected to digest for themselves.

The Imitation Game

Modern tropes are obvious, boring, exhausting. The good guys wear white, the bad guys black. The reluctant hero who never wants to get involved until a house is burnt down/a family member is hurt/a beloved animal is kidnapped. The con man with a heart of gold.

Writers on Roads Less Traveled By

But literary creators need not use such obvious roads. In an art form that does not have hard limits, there is no need to lean on easily digestible imagery or shortcuts to tell a good story.

The Error in Seeing Writing as a Recipe to be Followed

In recent memory, I stumbled across a Medium piece written comparing the art of writing to that of cooking. On its face, I understand the approach of seeing writing as taking two cups of characterization and mixing it with a few ounces of theme (so long as you add dashes of humor to taste). It demystifies the matter, repackaging something that is daunting and terrifying and recasting it as an approachable nibble.

Cooking Well

The idea of trope rose out of the desire to classify effective arguments, to understand the finest way to bridge the gap between creator and consumer. The idea of cliche rose out of the desire to spoon feed where the consumer should be left to digest for themselves.

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Kurt Avard

Kurt Avard

In search of a digital soapbox, I am here to entertain you with my thoughts on writing, my perspective, short stories, and more sprawling narratives besides.