Yeah, everyone hates tropes, right? I don’t mean literary tropes like allegory and simile, but the StereoType Trope — The cool dumb guy with the Harley, the awkward girl who comes out of her shell to discover she is great at something, the fat computer nerd who always gets bullied but is able to win the pretty girl by listening to her heart… we see them in a million books and movies and yet… we still see them.
Like favourite snacks book Tropes are old favourites, an old pair of slippers that wouldn’t feel the same if they were imported from China, shrink-wrapped in the low-cal low-sodium soy diversity of zero offence.
If a character doesn’t offend anyone they are probably not worth reading about because they never defended anything important. Or is that a trope too? The edgy writer trying to be cool and do his own thing to win the minds of the public and thus make more sales… yet secretly likes kittens and gardening… or are we all tropes?
Really, how unique are we? We all wear clothes, we all listen to music even if we claim the subtleties are different, we all have access to similar information… aren’t stereotypes and tropes useful lenses to define ourselves and characters in books?
Maybe what we think is a trope is only our interpretation of the character. Maybe the dumb cool guy with a Harley also doesn’t understand why people think the world is round, maybe he doesn’t have any gay black female friends and this makes him who he chooses to be not what is expected of him. Perhaps when awkward girl hit that kid with her car it would leave a scar on her that underlines every relationship she will have. You see, tropes are a container for a more complex palette. Fat nerd is like Prussian Blue, you mix it with other tropes or colours in infinite combinations and create something that contains the original colour, but is also new and interesting. Or maybe a mess, depends on your strokes. Or maybe a mess is abstract expressionism, depends how you look at it.
I think tropes are a good place to write from because they mean you have to understand a character and find out what makes them identifiable, not only what makes them unique. A character who is truly unique can only be an outcast, an outlier, and that is also a trope.