The Edit911 Blog

How to Use Common Tropes in Fiction and Reimagine Them

Tropes are a fundamental element of most stories. Unfortunately, writers have been conditioned to believe the use of tropes translates into poor story writing and they must be avoided as much as possible. Did you ever think, though, that with the right dose of creativity, you can also reinvent these old and hackneyed tropes?

Let’s look at some of the most common fiction tropes and how they can be reimagined.

A trope is a theme that reoccurs throughout literature. Most writers believe that tropes can reduce the weight of their writing and make the story more predictable. As a result, they decide not to use them.

Nice Guys Finish Last

Since the beginning of time, we have been made to believe that one needs to be an alpha/macho personality to be successful with the ladies. Harrison Ford, Chuck Norris, and Pierce Brosnan have all played the Alpha male who ends up getting the girl.

Such tropes have led us to believe that women are wired to fall for strong and powerful men, who can both provide and protect. However, that isn’t everything they look for in a man.

If we reimagine this trope, the best example that comes to our mind is that of Peter Parker from Spiderman. Peter is a nerdy yet kind, responsible, and respectful person. He doesn’t drink, nor does he cheat in relationships, except for that one time when he was possessed by an alien entity.

Even though he doesn’t have the stereotypical alpha traits, he is one of the most well-loved superheroes adored by women and children alike.

The One and Only

This is one of the most popular tropes that has been used repeatedly. In most cases, the protagonist has the weight of the world on his shoulders and the capacity to save the world.

Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible, and The Matrix are some examples of movies that revolve around a single character that must save the world.

The Harry Potter series reimagines this trope in a very interesting way. While the series establishes Harry as The Boy Who Lived, it also explores how in an alternate universe, it could have been Neville Longbottom. In doing so, Rowling presents several interesting arguments on the burden of destiny and how it’s our choices that make us who we are.

The Dark and Morbid Antagonists

A lot of antagonists are written as dark and morbid with a poor sense of humor and a complete lack of fashion sense. However, you’ll find that the most interesting antagonists can be loud and eccentric while still being just as dark and morbid.

The Joker and Moriarty from the Sherlock series that aired on BBC are great examples of this. They have a psychotic sense of humor and are often scarier and more fascinating than their dull, overtly serious counterparts.

As far as attire goes, we also have the example of Saruman from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Unlike most villains that wear black, Saruman wears white and is known as the White Wizard. He is the embodiment of all things evil, but his character obliterated the age-old stereotype of associating the color white with all things good and pure.

The Strong and Tough Female

When we talk about the tough female protagonist, the first thing that comes to our mind is a fearless warrior woman that can ride a horse, engage in combat, and can handle weapons as well as men. The Black Widow and Trinity from The Matrix are the perfect examples of the tough female. However, it is not necessary for a strong female to be in a tactical role all the time.

If we reimagine this, the best example that comes to our mind is that of Katarina Stratford from the 1999 coming-of-age film 10 Things I Hate About You. Kat is a high school senior who flaunts her attitude wherever she goes and doesn’t let anyone cross her boundaries. More importantly, she does this without having to carry a firearm or wearing a superheroine costume.

The Final Word

These were some of the most common tropes that we see every day. If you are in the middle of a novel, and it is inevitable for you to use a trope, get in touch with Edit911. We are a team of professional editors and proofreaders, specializing in novel editing services. As far as fiction goes, we can help you find flaws in your plot while enabling you to develop characters. If you want to benefit from our services, feel free to contact us today.

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A Guide to Academic and Scholarly Writing

Guide to Academic & Scholarly Writing

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How to Write a Dissertation That Doesn’t Suck

When I was living in that dread land of ABD (all but dissertation), I could always spot what poor fools around me weren’t going to make it. If I had wanted to be punched in the face, I would have given them these five tips to help.

1. Have an Actual Opinion

You can gather all the data you want. You can survey 15,978 institutions with a 90% response rate. You can figure out how to interview your dead grandmother. If you don’t use it all to arrive at an actual opinion: It. Doesn’t. Matter. Even better, your opinion should be interesting. It should shed light on something unknown, promote a new idea, disprove a myth—something!
But you should at least have one.


2. Don’t Write Crap Just to Show You Did the Research

It’s been years since you’ve seen the sun. Your children don’t recognize you. In fact, you don’t remember having children. You just know you’ve been staring at your computer so long your eyelashes have cobwebs. Now you’re writing up the Literature Review section, and you’re going to make damn sure each and every book, article, blog post, and bubblegum wrapper you ever so much as looked at is going in there. No one will be able to deny your thoroughness, your pain, or your lost youth. And no one will care, either.

Showing your research should be part of your argument, such as showing there’s a real gap in the literature or demonstrating that your opinion is different from what’s come before. Anything irrelevant must go, even if the article in question were only acquired through an inter-library loan and buying your own microfiche machine.


3. Stop Repeating Yourself! (AKA, The “Argh!” Rule)

It doesn’t matter how many fancy words you’ve learned, how often you change your syntax and tone, or what lovely tables and charts you have. The reader can tell when they’re being told the same thing over and over.

Don’t believe me? Well, the audience for your paper is able to identify the recurrent appearance of the same content multiple times. Moreover, people notice when you repeat yourself!
Say it once, say it correctly, and move the hell on.

4. Write a Dissertation That Makes You a Good Hire

Oh, you found it fascinating that fruit fly genitalia can be counted more readily using the Accu-Scope 3088 Rechargeable LED Monocular Microscope than with the Labomed Sigma Monocular Microscope? Wow. And you wrote 2,432 pages on it? That’s major winner right there.

And now tell me just who you think wants to hire someone who spent a year of their life figuring that out? All that dissertation will get you is a job as a lab minion.

Pick something you can talk about at your interview that makes you sound smart and topical, cutting-edge and valuable. Or lets you fake it.


5. Don’t Plagiarize (AKA, The Dumbass Rule)

Most grad students have figured out by the time they’re doing the dissertation that they must cite even when they paraphrase, must put everything in quotes that’s not their own work, must slavishly follow the writing style down to the last comma in their references, and must refer at least twice to something their professor wrote if it’s even remotely on point.

But remember that the all-holy dissertation is supposed to show you can perform original thinking, or at the least create an original thought, however small.

Be absolutely certain that your whole idea doesn’t revolve around what someone else said. It can be inspired by it, or you can have the idea to disprove it, or you can expand on it in an original way. But if it’s really just a restatement of another’s work, someone on that panel of professors is going to all but kill themselves proving how superior they are to their peers by haughtily revealing that they already read your so-called opinion right here.

Seriously, in academia, it’s better to be new and pointless than incredible but repetitive.

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Editing a Dissertation: How a Professional Editor Finds & Fixes Comma Problems.

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