How DO you write tropes, cliches, and Mary Sues?

Because it only took Viking-Sensei three years (and the approaching end of Errant Story) to come up with a better name for "General Discussions"

How DO you write tropes, cliches, and Mary Sues?

Postby emo samurai » July 26th, 2011, 12:21 am

I couldn't go to Ikasucon, but I am very, very curious about that one title.
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Re: How DO you write tropes, cliches, and Mary Sues?

Postby Imp-Chan » July 26th, 2011, 4:06 am

It's not really something we had considered putting into article format, the chief attraction of the panel is that it's a very interactive discussion. That said, the underlying principle is that tropes etc. make the audience feel safe and smart, but written badly they also leave the audience bored. There are many ways to write them well, but the easiest is to write them with a twist that is unexpected, a new perspective on a tried and true plot point. Not like Shyamalamalamalamalama twists or anything, which are a trope unto themselves, more like breaking a fairy tale down into component pieces and then using them to make something new (some new twists on fairy tales are also tropes, such as just swapping the genders, but that's the fun of naming tropes).

For example, how do you tell the story of Sleeping Beauty in a way that the audience who knows the story will still be engaged in the ending? Well, one option might be to choose to emphasize a specific plot element in a new way. Maybe going to sleep for a hundred years has other purposes for the story, such as strategic value for a neighboring country looking to invade, or maybe there's a specific treaty with the land of fairies that rests on the sleep, or maybe it's all just bullshit and the hundred years of sleep is actually an evil princess's way of regaining her youth at the expense of her people. The hundred years sleep trope becomes a structure for a bigger story, rather than being the story in its entirety.

Obviously, two paragraphs do not a panel make, but if it's any consolation we do this particular panel at almost every convention we attend, and we are definitely looking to do it again next year at Ikasucon. The panel's constantly evolving and growing, so I think it'd be a neat discussion for everyone here.

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