You’re in the process of writing your book, so when should you engage the services of a professional editor and what should you be asking them to do when? This blog post will consider when you might like to hire me for the different editorial services I provide.Continue reading “When to hire me!”
Tropes as tools
Tropes are essentially patterns and conventions that provide structure to your storytelling. Frequently unique to a particular genre, tropes such as a “coming out” trope or the “meet cute” in a romance novel.
Readers of that genre will be used to, and expect to find, that particular trope within your book. Taking time to understand the tropes of your chosen genre will help you to understand what readers want and expect when they sit down to read your book.
How to use tropes
Tropes are perfectly fine to use. Indeed, readers will expect to see them. But there are ways to do it well and ways not to do it!
The danger with tropes is that they become formulaic: readers can guess exactly what is coming next. That’s no way to write!
What you should be aiming for is a new way of using or retelling the trope. Challenge the norms, the stereotypes and find innovative ways to use the trope within your story. One good way to think of it is to “hide” the trope: use it in your writing but don’t signpost it for the reader.
You might also like to consider how you can blend tropes from other genres into your writing. For example, in your next big queer sci-fi novel, how can you use elements of the romantic tropes to build on your characterisation?
Clichés: Tired old tropes
While tropes serve as tools for writing, clichés only slow the writing down and make everything predictable for the reader.
Take, for example, the “tragic queer” trope. This trope perpetuates the idea that LGBTQ+ characters have to meet untimely or tragic ends. Like the “bury your gays” cloche, continually portraying queer characters in this way is harmful and problematic.
Likewise, a “chosen one” trope – such as you might find with the Lord of the Rings – can also be cliché: the readers know exactly who is going to win the day and needs telling innovatively to be used effectivly.
The problem with tropes that become cliché is their reliance on stock characters, predictable stories and inauthentic representation. This can easily lead to stereotyping and reinforcing expectations.
How editing can help
As a writer, you will be using the tropes of your genre to build your story. Take some time to explore those tropes as you write – your readers will be expecting to find them. Of course, as we have said, you have to steer clear of cliché and find new ways to present your tropes, but they need to be there!
A developmental edit is one way that you can be sure that your tropes are being presented this way and not straying into cliché.
Developmental editing feedback will ensure that your writing and story are original, innovative and are presenting your genre with a new and interesting twist.
As a developmental editor, I look for examples of the tropes in your chosen genre and, as I read your manuscript, ensure that you are steering clear of the clichés. I use feedback and comments in your manuscript to highlight this to you. If you want to know more, get in touch today to find out how I can support you.
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