The Trope Dilemma

There’s a conflict I often feel between writing something new and staying loyal to the tropes of a genre. There are readers who will roll their eyes at tropes, while others eagerly await them.

If the characters are well developed and relatable, a story can transcend genre. I feel a special kind of satisfaction when someone is not a huge fantasy reader, but appreciates a fantasy piece I’ve written. I like the idea of making a fantasy novel accessible to those who are not hardcore fans. But there’s a balance I want to strike. There are readers who love fantasy for the quintessentially fantasy elements– the evil force waiting for vengeance, the powerful magic relic, the medieval setting, the secret heir, the chosen one, a friend showing up just in time to save the hero.  Nevertheless, it’s important to make these things feel new, or else readers who enjoy these elements may also tire of them. 

Sometimes this means including a trope by allowing it to unfold, but then changing the outcome. The trope will trigger an expectation from the reader, which means, as the writer, you can surprise them. 

Another option is acknowledging that an element in the story is a trope. Something might be so cliché it can break the reader’s suspension of disbelief, so you have to acknowledge it in some way. 

And finally, a trope can’t be included for trope’s sake. It can’t stand alone as a plot point. It has to serve the story. A dragon shouldn’t be there just because it’s fantasy. If any given trope is well incorporated into your specific story, it should have a unique and new element to it.

This is what I’ve aimed to accomplish. I want to write the best story possible, to entertain and also spark reflection. But ultimately I know I can’t please everyone. If I write a story that speaks to just one person, that warms my soul. 

For those of you who read fantasy, what are you looking to read next? Is there anything you’re tired of reading?