1. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    Tropes others are allowed to use, but not me

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rick n Morty, Sep 9, 2016.

    Alright, so this has been bothering me for awhile.

    There is a lot of tropes that people keep telling me NOT to use. However, there are other works that have used these tropes, and were well-received despite this. Let's give some examples.

    • People tell me that villains have to have a believable motivation, and be somewhat three-dimensional. Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a good example. But what about Maleficent? (From the original 1959 Sleeping Beauty, not the crappy reboot film.) Her evil acts were just the result of not being invited (either that, or just for fun). Despite this, she's one of the most popular and beloved Disney villains.
    • I'm also told not to have my characters be one-note archetypes. But the recent Nickelodeon series The Loud House has been well-received despite all of Lincoln's sisters being common archetypes we've seen in many previous cartoons. (Like the creepy goth girl, the science nerd who talks with a lisp, the polar opposite tomboy and girly-girl twins, the bitchy teen, the ditzy teen, the comedian who tells bad jokes, the rocker, the sports-lover, etc.)
    • Also, The Book of Life used a BUNCH of Disney-style cliches like the love triangle, the rebellious teen who doesn't want to do what their elders tell them, the girl who does things women aren't allowed to do in this society, etc. Despite this, the film is really well-liked, and I can't figure out why.

    So, is this a sign that tropes are just tools, and not inherently good or bad? What did these works do that made them work? Am I allowed to use these tropes if I do something similar to what made them work here?
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Don't pay any attention to anyone who says you can't do whatever you like, including use of tropes. The end product will determine whether you used then effectively or not, and that's all that matters.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    In The Leftovers there is a "magical negro", up front and in full form, another trope we are warned against. The show even goes to the length of having another character (Patti, who is a ghost or something like one) comment on the presence of the "magical negro" when she confronts Kevin and says: ""A magical black man who lives in a shack told you to kill yourself? That's damn near racist."

    I agree with @Steerpike. Be careful as regards taking the word of people who speak in an assertive and assured tone as unquestionable truths. People have a real need to treat their opinions as facts. You already note that there is empirical evidence that would seem to make their statements false, or at least not always true. Go with empirical evidence. ;)
     
  4. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Something can have a really poor usage of a trope in it and still be otherwise quite good, or at least have one really great feature that tends to outweigh its faults (think Avatar; it's Pocahontas in space, sure, but it's so pretty that most people didn't care at the time). You also have to keep in mind that older works (like Sleeping Beauty) might have come around before a trope was very widespread, or even be its originator. I'm sure the first love triangle was amazing, but after the ensuing five million of them, it's a bit tired.

    It's not that other people are allowed to use tropes and you aren't. It's that not relying on tropes or purposefully trying to fulfill them makes it more likely that your work will seem more original. And maybe spawn its own tropes ;)
     
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  5. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    The replies so far have been really helpful. Thanks.

    The stuff you pointed out is the reason I prefer to write what I like, not what other people like.
     

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