#InkRipples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation.
What's all the fuss about? HALL WAYS TALKS TROPES.
When the word "trope" started showing up in all kinds of book reviews, I was initially confused. Grammar geek that I am, I couldn't understand why people were complaining about tropes being used. After all, in my learning, a trope is a literary device and with few exceptions, I think figurative language enhances writing. Why the complaints? But alas, language evolves, and there is now an additional definition where trope has a negative connotation and represents a theme that's overly common, overdone, or becoming cliche.
As I put this newer definition in my thinking cap, I made a quick list of the tropes that I've noticed:
- deus ex machina (fits BOTH definitions of trope)
- the special snowflake
- opposite sexes can't have platonic relationships
- the love triangle
- the clueless, dumb, or absent adults (especially in YA)
- the just discovered royal lineage
- the forbidden love
- the quirky best friend
- the special powers/gift not realized or not triggered until age 15/16/17 (49??)
- the bookish/bookstore/book seller/library/librarian hook
Now, I'm not saying that all of the above are deal breakers for ME. Deus en machina usually is -- come on -- but the bookish hook works on me pretty much every time. SUCKA. Author Kai Strand doesn't see the use of tropes as necessarily a bad thing, and I get that! She's right -- readers want to escape into the feel-goods of fiction. Plus, readers want to see their own situations play out differently than they might in real life: the underdog is victorious; the unpopular girl is loved by Mr. Popular; the bully gets punished.
Here's the thing: I am not a writer, but I have the utmost respect for writers. They not only have stories to tell, but they are brave enough to put them in writing and share them with the world. How hard that must be! No one has a patent on any one theme, so as long as a writer puts his or her own spin on it (and produces a mostly error-free, cleanly edited story -- I digress), I am good with it.
If a reader is tired of reading about an underdog who comes out on top of the world, then that reader needs to expand his or her reading universe and find some other story line to read; there are plenty to choose from. And hey you, reader who is complaining: quityergritchin' unless you can do better. (Then prove it and send me an ARC. My review guidelines are on this blog. heh heh.)