The Hidden Hero: Tropes & Clichés

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I get it.  You’ve seen that trope a million times.  You are sick of it.  “Can we please have another type of story?”  The same characters, situations, and conflicts appear over and over.  So, you write an insightful blog or article that instructs all current and future writers that this topic is done.  “Stop,” you say.  “It’s all been said, again, and again, and again, and again…”

I have two words for you.  SCREW YOU!

Here are some more words.  Not everyone has read the same books as you. Or been to the same movies, or watched the same TV series. Not everyone is from the same culture as you, or has the same privileges.  Not everyone has had the chance to be represented as the hero of the story because of their gender, skin color, sexuality, beliefs, etc.

The “Classics of Literature” have been set in place by a small sub-set of humanity. We have barely started listening to the point of view of other voices, and we are already shutting down whole topics?  Really? The writers of the past have already had their say.  Now, it is our turn.

Yes, we should be aware of cultural shifts and language drifts.  Words and phrases come to mean something different over time. Yes, we should be evolving, both as people and as writers. Only an idiot tries to stay the same, birth to death. Yes, we should be aware that there are topics that people don’t want to deal with, but catharsis is an important tool for recovery.

Take back the freedom to write about everything that makes you uncomfortable. It is on the edges of the hard topics that you find clarity.  Rape and consent.  Gender self-identification and sexuality.  Xenophobia and colonialism.  Privilege and classism. Morality and justice.  In fiction we can take these topics apart–tropes and clichés included–and put them back together in ways that make them easier to understand.  We are searching for hope among the debris.

Right now, on this planet, there are cultures that still force women and men to dress in gender significant ways.  Force!  As in legal and physical punishment. The trope “girl dresses as a boy to gain freedom” is still relevant.  So is its opposite.  Maybe YOU don’t require that story to be told to you, but someone else does.  Stop insisting that stories cater only to your specific needs.  You are tired of it?  Fine.  Avoid it.  It’s not that common.  Meanwhile, stop attempting to put limits on writers and storytellers.  Don’t expect every story you encounter to explore your particular set of circumstances.

Writers, I’m begging you, stop trying to conform to every “How to write” article you come across.  Some of them are pure bunkum.  Write the story you want to read.  You are not so unique that your story can’t be enjoyed by someone else.  You will find those who want the story, maybe even need it.  If you can’t help but read those articles from curiosity (like me), remember that it is someones OPINION, and everyone has one, just like… bellybuttons.

Seriously, why is there such an effort to micro-manage future storytelling?

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7 thoughts on “The Hidden Hero: Tropes & Clichés

  1. Oooo, this is GOOD. It took me (more than) a minute to “get” tropes. Now I see them as the rules that make the game interesting–you gotta touch all three or it’s not a home run.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for providing me with two such powerful tools today.
    This is the part that I am going to quote to others: “Stop insisting that stories cater only to your specific needs.”
    This line I’m going to use to motivate myself: “We are searching for hope among the debris.”
    Well said. (In fact, you’ve got me so motivated that I’m going to break a BIG rule and use some adverbs.)
    Extremely and profoundly well said.
    Gosh, that felt good. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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