We all know this topic since I touch on it from time to time. For those who don’t know, tropes are things that are used very often in a genre. They are similar to clichés, but not always seen as a negative. Yet, the two words tend to be used interchangeably these days, which is part of the reason for the post. Best examples are the ‘Chosen One’ and the ‘Tower Princess’. Both are getting their own post this week.
So, where does perspective come into play? At first, you may think I’m talking about the readers. If a person has limited experience with a trope then it won’t appear to be stale or overdone. Not until they run into more often. Younger readers will find these common characters and plot twists as amazing while older ones will be annoyed. This is one reason why many authors seek to avoid using them. They’re targeting the older demographics even though you have members of those groups who may not read the genre often enough to be over the tropes. Anyway, that’s not the perspective I’m talking about.
I mean the way a trope is presented by an author. Not turning it entirely on its head, but coming at it from a different direction. The character or object will still have the same purpose it always does. You’re just seeing it from a different angle. This can change the entire story too. Some tropes that people think show weakness can be demonstrated as strong. Those who are amazing can be seen as weak or pathetic. Again, it’s all about perspective and how we show these things to the reader. The author has full control over this, so take advantage of the god-like status.
Best example, which has become a trope itself, would be showing that the evil villain isn’t as evil as people thought. Instead of the pure evil character like older stories, you see things from their perspective. It could be that they’re still doing evil, but now you see the reason. It could wrong and not how any sane person would do it. May even be downright messed up. Yet, you now have a trope that has been altered enough to stand out among its peers. In fact, each new reason for doing evil can be seen as a change of perspective enough that you can always keep the ‘evil villain’ trope in some form.
Doing this isn’t easy. You can go too far and lose the trope entirely, which isn’t bad. It just means you may have to alter other things that depended on it. You may not go far enough, which will show and bring about the using braying of ‘cliché’ from those who read books like their lives depend on it. To be fair, it does in some cases. This is why I think one has to be careful with altering the perspective of the trope. You need to make it clear that you’re using one and clear that it’s different. Go too far in either direction and you’re left with a mess. Good luck.