Monday, September 7, 2009

Trying to Write for Television? Learn the Tropes

TV Tropes

"Welcome To TV Tropes!

What is this about? This wiki is a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction. We dip into the cauldron of story, whistle up a hearty spoonful and splosh it in front of you to devour to your heart's content.

"Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means "stereotyped and trite". In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are not looking for dull and uninteresting entries. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them.

"The wiki is called 'TV Tropes' because that is where we started. Over the course of a few years, our scope has crept out to include other media. Tropes transcend television. They exist in life, as we will be quick to tell you. Since a lot of art, especially the popular arts, does its best to reflect life, tropes are likely to show up everywhere...."

This isn't the ultimate writer's resource - but it's extensive, has a decent search function, and the content doesn't require more than the proverbial grain of salt now and again.

I use the search function more than the index, but that's a personal preference - TV Tropes' index is pretty decent. For example, under Narrative Tropes there's:
  • Applied Phlebotinum
  • Characterization Tropes
  • Characters
  • Characters As Device
  • Dialogue
  • Motifs
  • Narrative Devices
  • Paratext
  • Plots
  • Settings
  • Spectacle
"Applied Phlebotinum"?! You probably remember terms like "dialogue" and "narrative devices" from English class. "Phlebotinum" - not so much. It's something to make the plot go. Dr. Who's sonic screwdriver is an example.

This is a pretty good resource, I think, for writers - or someone who wants to have some fun reading about what makes stories work (or not work). It's a mob group effort, so the writing style is - eclectic would be a nice way of putting it. And many (most?) genres and styles are covered, from CSI to Seven Samurai.
A tip of the hat to irish_brigid, for the heads-up on this resource.

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