Literary Tropes: What are they and should you stay away from them?



Are they good or bad?


First off, let’s ask ourselves, “what is a trope?”

The term trope is used in a figurative sense, i.e. irony, or a reoccurring theme in a story, i.e. forbidden love. The previous statement kind of has two different definitions of what a trope is. In this blog, I will be referring the second part (the reoccurring theme in a story) In the writing community, the term trope is thrown around a lot, and when I was starting my writing journey, I had no idea what the term meant. The only thing that it did to me was turn me off from interacting with other writers because of my own lack of writing terminology.

So, we have answered what a trope is…still confused? Oh, no worries. I was so confused that I had to have many different writers explain to me what it meant until they gave me examples. So, below, I have listed some examples of literary tropes, and hopefully these examples will help you.

Examples of Literary Tropes….ONLY A FEW EXAMPLES

Forbidden Love

Evil Queen

Evil Sorcerer

Abusive Parents

Love Triangle

The Unlikely Hero


Now, here is the next question…should you stay away from them? And here is another question, is there a way to stay away from them?

Here is another heated debate whether or not a writer should stay away from using an overly used trope. My opinion, I say no. If you have an idea for a story that is the “Unlikely Hero” trope…go for it. Humans are creatures of habit, which includes reading novels with the same tropes. I love unlikely hero stories because it brings me to a time in my life when I felt so bad about myself, and I never thought that I would ever mount to anything (oh teenage angst. I don’t miss it.)

To be a successful writer, I truly believe that you MUST stand by your story…your writing style. If someone says, “oh don’t write that story because it’s too close to another or “oh that trope is overly used” screw them. They aren’t being supportive or useful. Stand by yourself. Because these people may not see the vision you have, so as a writer, it’s your job to bring them the story.

My opinion: Tropes are AMAZING and FUN

So, we’ve learned what a trope is AND I insisted that you make your own mind up about your story. I hope you find these helpful. There are numerous resources on tropes and writing on skillshare (Jenna Moreci has GREAT videos on it).