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Author Topic: Favorite Tropes??  (Read 7853 times)

Offline Saraband

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Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2015, 05:17:49 PM »
I enjoy the underdog protagonist - usually a prince/princess that is so down the line of succession, he/she becomes careless about most things, or who simply are some sort of black sheep in the family. And these protagonists tend to be sarcastic, which I like a lot. Two examples would be Jalan (Red Queen Trilogy, Mark Lawrence) and Tyrion Lannister, from ASOIAF, George R. R. Martin.
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Offline tebakutis

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Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2015, 05:40:33 PM »
Quote
I also really enjoy the trope where the main hero and villain are forced to work together against another threat. You can get so many great moments and interactions between the two if done right.

Yeah, that's really fun. In the same vein, I absolutely love villain vs villain, especially if both villains are unredeemable (this is one of the rare cases where I'm in favor of a "pure evil" antagonist, like Sauron).

Unlike an antagonist (who is opposed to your protagonist, but sees themselves as the hero), a true villain in black/white fashion is someone you can almost never root for. When the villain runs up against a WORSE villain, however, all the sudden you can root for the person you'd normally despise.

To take the Sauron example, Tolkein doesn't give us any hints Sauron is anything but pure evil. So, we can't root for him. But what if Middle Earth was invaded by Voldemort and a bunch of Death Eaters, and Sauron was the only being powerful enough to stop him? Or vice versa? All the sudden, I can root for the villain (for real!)
« Last Edit: September 11, 2015, 05:43:17 PM by tebakutis »

Offline ClintACK

Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2015, 06:12:51 PM »
I Like]

The villain beating the good guys

Love this one.  Doesn't happen enough.

I think most authors (and publishers) see this as betraying the promise they make readers at the beginning of the book, so they shy away from it.

Offline DDRRead

Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2015, 06:19:54 PM »
I like it when we start during the protags late childhood/early adolescence then follow their progress to adulthood and  heroism. Even better if they make some key enemies during those early years.

Offline Eclipse

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Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2015, 06:21:17 PM »
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The villain beating the good guys

Love this one.  Doesn't happen enough.

I think most authors (and publishers) see this as betraying the promise they make readers at the beginning of the book, so they shy away from it.

I loved this books when I was younger

The Rise and fall of a Dragon King by Lynn Abby (Dark Sun)

I, Strahd: The Memoirs of a Vampire (Ravenloft #7) By P.N Elrod
King of the Dead (Ravenloft #15) by Gene DeWeese
Lord of the Necropolis (Ravenloft, #17) by Gene DeWeese
I, Strahd: The War Against Azalin (Ravenloft #19) by P.N. Elrod

and anything with Lord Soth in  :)

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Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2015, 06:59:24 PM »
I love anti-villains. They're some of the most fun people to write because they fill the role of the antagonist, but they don't always seem like such bad people.

Offline Rukaio_Alter

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Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #21 on: September 11, 2015, 07:07:36 PM »
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The villain beating the good guys

Love this one.  Doesn't happen enough.

I think most authors (and publishers) see this as betraying the promise they make readers at the beginning of the book, so they shy away from it.
Depends. Are we talking the villain beating the hero at the very end of the story or just partway through and leaving them to lick their wounds/get a second/whatever. If it's the latter, I can definitely get on board for that. That's a great trope. If it's the former... not so much.

To be blunt, unless you do a really good job with it and it fits perfectly with what has come before, having a sudden 'The Villain Wins' ending is probably going to make me fling the book at the wall. Why? Because it makes me wonder why the hell I wasted my time following these protagonists if they were all going to lose pointlessly in the end anyway. Having a sudden massive downer ending like that doesn't make your book any better or deeper or anything like that, it just makes it frustrating and makes you wonder why you bothered to get invested in these characters in the first place.

Don't get me wrong, the villain winning can work (hell, 1984 is a classic example of it working well) but it's really not something I think we need a lot of.

Speaking of villains and other tropes I love, I really like it when the villain is shown to genuinely care about the people working beneath him. Not only does it make a nice change from the common Bad Bosses who execute their mooks for the slightest mistake and generally make you wonder why the hell anyone would want to work for them, but it always makes the villain seem more 3-dimensional.
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Offline tebakutis

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Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #22 on: September 11, 2015, 07:27:56 PM »
Quote
Speaking of villains and other tropes I love, I really like it when the villain is shown to genuinely care about the people working beneath him. Not only does it make a nice change from the common Bad Bosses who execute their mooks for the slightest mistake and generally make you wonder why the hell anyone would want to work for them, but it always makes the villain seem more 3-dimensional.

Yup! That's why I almost never write a villain as "evil" - I write them as an antagonist (as you should write them) which means they simply have a goal opposed to the protagonist's.

Best example I can think of is Thrawn from the (now non-canon) EU novels. There's a great scene in there where a tractor beam operator almost captures Luke, but loses him due to an exploding shell ship gambit. The tractor beam guy thinks quickly and almost recaptures him, but fails.

So Thrawn walks down and everyone's like "Oh hell, the tractor beam guys gonna get forcechocked." And Thrawn calmly asks him what happened, finds out what trick Luke used, sees the beam operator thought of a quick workaround that didn't quite work, and so on.

Then Thrawn CONGRATULATES and promotes the dude for thinking so quickly, rewarding him for showing initiative. At that moment everyone on the Star Destroyer bridge is instantly team Thrawn - not because they FEAR him (like Vader) but because he's actually shown himself to be a good commander. He earns their respect.

It was such a great moment in those books, which goes to your point about a "villain" caring for his people. Thrawn was ruthless with his enemies, but took care of his own.

Offline JMack

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Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2015, 07:33:03 PM »
Quote
Speaking of villains and other tropes I love, I really like it when the villain is shown to genuinely care about the people working beneath him. Not only does it make a nice change from the common Bad Bosses who execute their mooks for the slightest mistake and generally make you wonder why the hell anyone would want to work for them, but it always makes the villain seem more 3-dimensional.

Yup! That's why I almost never write a villain as "evil" - I write them as an antagonist (as you should write them) which means they simply have a goal opposed to the protagonist's.

Best example I can think of is Thrawn from the (now non-canon) EU novels. There's a great scene in there where a tractor beam operator almost captures Luke, but loses him due to an exploding shell ship gambit. The tractor beam guy thinks quickly and almost recaptures him, but fails.

So Thrawn walks down and everyone's like "Oh hell, the tractor beam guys gonna get forcechocked." And Thrawn calmly asks him what happened, finds out what trick Luke used, sees the beam operator thought of a quick workaround that didn't quite work, and so on.

Then Thrawn CONGRATULATES and promotes the dude for thinking so quickly, rewarding him for showing initiative. At that moment everyone on the Star Destroyer bridge is instantly team Thrawn - not because they FEAR him (like Vader) but because he's actually shown himself to be a good commander. He earns their respect.

It was such a great moment in those books, which goes to your point about a "villain" caring for his people. Thrawn was ruthless with his enemies, but took care of his own.

Welllllllllll... unless they were little aliens who just wanted their planet to not be diseased and stuff. They thought they were Team Thrawn, but... not so much.  ;)
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Offline Yora

Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2015, 09:13:29 PM »
Much of the best writing I've seen is when stories directly point out that some common cliche or another is completely unbelievable or a classic piece of uplifting advice is actually terrible.

But there are a few exceptions:

Possibly my most favorite is a hero being put into a position where he has to chose between two bad options but refuses to go with either because the situation is much more complex than anyone makes it out to be and there are other options that could work once you start looking beyond the traditionally held truths.

Also very nice are heroes who don't want the power and wealth of the villain they defeated as they reason they got into the whole thing was that they simply wanted to be left in peace. Getting rid of the tyrant is great, but the burden of being a king can go to someone else.

(One work that does really well with old cliches is the videogame series Metal Gear Solid, which is a bit of a blend of the most ridiculous 80s action movie and the sillier James Bond movies. Someone once described it wonderfully as "Metal Gear Solid plays all the overused and cliched tropes so incredibly straight that they curve back onto themselves and become actually as cool again as they originally were.)

Offline tebakutis

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Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #25 on: September 12, 2015, 02:04:33 AM »
Quote
Welllllllllll... unless they were little aliens who just wanted their planet to not be diseased and stuff. They thought they were Team Thrawn, but... not so much.

Didn't Thrawn inherit that whole mess from Vader, though? It's been awhile since I've read the books, but I swear I recall that Vader was the one who lied to the Noghri originally (getting them to join the Empire) and Thrawn was basically saddled with it when he took over managing them. So really, he just inherited a mess from his predecessor and made the (reasonable) decision not to mess with the status quo.

Hahah, either way, it was a good play until it wasn't. :0


Offline ArhiX

Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #26 on: September 12, 2015, 11:42:29 PM »
How about Pyrrhic victory? When everything that protagonist worked for wasn't quite worth it. Yes - you have The Magical Sword of Fighting - but your best friend is now dead. Yes - you have entered The Lands of Doom of Big Bad Boss - but 90% of your army bites the dust. Yes - you were able to kill Big Bad Boss - but you lost your arm, and propably soul. Yes - you saved the princess... but she has herpes (and now he has it too). We are satisfied - after all Hero managed to do everything he wanted to, but in the end we are like... "Maybe it wasn't THAT worth it? Maybe he should have stayed on the farm to feed pigs with potatoes to this day?"

My two favorite examples are from Malazan - Memories of Ice - Heroic defence of Kapustan (this name gives me giggles because in my language it can be translated as 'cabbage town') and a desperate battle of Koral.
Also pretty much every victory - even little personal ones - in a "Song of ice and fire" feels like it ie. War of Five Kings.
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Offline Hedin

Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #27 on: September 13, 2015, 01:20:54 AM »
I Like]

The villain beating the good guys

Love this one.  Doesn't happen enough.

I think most authors (and publishers) see this as betraying the promise they make readers at the beginning of the book, so they shy away from it.
Depends. Are we talking the villain beating the hero at the very end of the story or just partway through and leaving them to lick their wounds/get a second/whatever. If it's the latter, I can definitely get on board for that. That's a great trope. If it's the former... not so much.

To be blunt, unless you do a really good job with it and it fits perfectly with what has come before, having a sudden 'The Villain Wins' ending is probably going to make me fling the book at the wall. Why? Because it makes me wonder why the hell I wasted my time following these protagonists if they were all going to lose pointlessly in the end anyway. Having a sudden massive downer ending like that doesn't make your book any better or deeper or anything like that, it just makes it frustrating and makes you wonder why you bothered to get invested in these characters in the first place.

Don't get me wrong, the villain winning can work (hell, 1984 is a classic example of it working well) but it's really not something I think we need a lot of.

I think the trick is to make the villain interesting enough of a character.  If they are just a one-dimensional background baddie and actually give them depth and clear motivations and desires beyond destroying everything.  If an author could pull that off I don't think I would be upset that the good guy lost.

Offline cupiscent

Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #28 on: September 13, 2015, 10:26:37 AM »
I am super-heaps fond of lady characters who have strength and power in traditional (for our society or their society) feminine roles - basically, ladies who have been raised and trained to be "proper ladies" who nevertheless move and shake. It's a powerful subversion of the idea that there's no power in lady-business. The best example I can think of right now is Clara in Daniel Abraham's Dagger and Coin books, but Guy Gavriel Kay's work is also full of great examples.

I'm also exceedingly fond of wry, jaded, bitter rogue types. From Eddings' Silk through to Locke Lamora, I'm fond of bitter men hiding genuine pain under whimsicality, and the shades of grey they have in their moral pathways.

Possibly relatedly, another favourite character trope is the hero who's been heroing long enough to rub the shine off it, and who knows it's all just mud and blood at the end. Basically, give me an older chap who's embarrassed about his own heroic legend and complains about how his knees hurt, and I'm probably halfway to sold. (Which is why it surprises even me that I didn't enjoy The Name of the Wind, but to my mind it didn't really deliver this trope.)

In terms of plot tropes, I must admit to loving a plotline where a hero has to do something bad in order to avoid something worse happening. Bonus points if no one ever knows the why, and it just looks like he's gone villainous.

Offline Eclipse

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Re: Favorite Tropes??
« Reply #29 on: September 13, 2015, 01:51:05 PM »
Possibly relatedly, another favourite character trope is the hero who's been heroing long enough to rub the shine off it, and who knows it's all just mud and blood at the end. Basically, give me an older chap who's embarrassed about his own heroic legend and complains about how his knees hurt, and I'm probably halfway to sold. (Which is why it surprises even me that I didn't enjoy The Name of the Wind, but to my mind it didn't really deliver this trope.)

Sounds like you would love Legend (Drenai) by David Gemmel
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