Tropes aren’t bad. In fact, they are a useful and, at times, necessary shorthand that creators, particularly in the webcomic field, can wield to enhance their work. J Hillis Miller posited a trope as, “… the use of figurative language, via word, phrase or an image, for artistic effect.”
Every genre and sub-genre has their conventions or set of tropes that go on to define a work as belonging to that category. For instance, a science fiction story is expected to have a focus on technology, space exploration often set in the distant future where society has evolved be it for good or bad. The tropes for that genre might include the use of advanced technology (usually video phones), intergalactic governments, elaborate post-apocalyptic gangs, all the control rooms or even futuristic slang or colloquialisms. These tropes act as a shorthand, indicating to the audience a set of expectations.
You can even use tropes as a way to establish the groundwork for you to later subvert. For instance, say you are writing a comedy comic and you want to use the trope of two workmen walking across the road with a pane of glass that a car almost hits for comedic effect. You’ve set your audience up. They know what the gag is and how it plays out. TV tropes offers an entire list of way to subvert the trope, my favourite being, “If the car drives through the pane of glass, but it's the car that shatters (instead of the glass), it's inverted (and a very shoddily-built car at that).”
(Awesome example of subverting a classic superhero trope)
Once you know what genre and sub-genre you’re writing for, have a look at what tropes you can include and maybe even subvert. It can keep your work fresh whilst also providing a neat little shorthand to help your readers.
Don’t forget, we’ll be chatting about tropes on the Quackchat this coming Sunday evening at 5.30pm EST. Come join us on Twitter for the hour and let us know about your experiences with tropes. In the meantime, let us know what tropes you’ve included and possibly subverted in your webcomic in the comments below!
Till next time lovelies!
Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, June 8, 2018
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