May 30, 2020, 07:15:37 PM

Author Topic: What Would an Anti-Trope Fantasy Novel Look Like?  (Read 476 times)

Offline abatch

What Would an Anti-Trope Fantasy Novel Look Like?
« on: January 02, 2020, 10:52:35 PM »
Would it work so hard to avoid tropes that it would become self-conscious and annoying? Would it be unrecognizable as fantasy?

Your thoughts?

Offline Peat

Re: What Would an Anti-Trope Fantasy Novel Look Like?
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2020, 11:11:26 PM »
Would be very difficult to call without seeing it but when you consider how many things are tropes, I'm kinda curious as to what's left.
This is the blog of Peat - http://peatlong.blogspot.co.uk/

Offline Matthew

Re: What Would an Anti-Trope Fantasy Novel Look Like?
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2020, 11:41:12 PM »
So avoid;

Talented older mage
Prophecies
Any kind of chosen one
Mentor student 
Any kind of too rapid progression of talent / power
Dark Lords
Enchanted jewellery / swords
Dead parents / family
Eurocentric medieval setting :)
Love triangles / cliched falling in love because they're the protagonists
Quests
Saving the world
Dragons :(
The noble thief / broken warrior
'Traditional' races (dwarfs in chainmail with hammers, so you know Tolkien's creations).
Anything Cthulhu
Multiverses
Time travel paradoxes


There are a lot more, but I just counted and think Harry Potter hit at least 14 of those.


To go specifically anti-trope, you'd have to not only avoid those but also counter them in some way.

Thinking some more about this, I had a few ideas. Some of them are off the top of my head, others I've seen mentioned elsewhere on this forum, and some from books but not used enough to be tropes.

Maybe the older mage could be incompetent or just a useless drunk,
The prophecy could apply to more than one person and lead to chaos,
Meaning there are hundreds of chosen ones,
The student has an incompetent mentor (the useless drunk),
The protagonist struggles with magic failing his final exams or test because he had to basically train himself,
The Lords could all be good and pure and because of that totally ineffectual at controlling spread of evil,
Enchantments don't exist or burn out super quickly,
Parents still alive and totally loving and non abusive,
Any other setting,
Hero falls in love with the villan,
Etc,
Etc,
Etc.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 11:51:02 PM by Matthew »

Offline Peat

Re: What Would an Anti-Trope Fantasy Novel Look Like?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2020, 01:25:22 AM »

To go specifically anti-trope, you'd have to not only avoid those but also counter them in some way.

Thinking some more about this, I had a few ideas. Some of them are off the top of my head, others I've seen mentioned elsewhere on this forum, and some from books but not used enough to be tropes.

Maybe the older mage could be incompetent or just a useless drunk,
The prophecy could apply to more than one person and lead to chaos,
Meaning there are hundreds of chosen ones,
The student has an incompetent mentor (the useless drunk),
The protagonist struggles with magic failing his final exams or test because he had to basically train himself,
The Lords could all be good and pure and because of that totally ineffectual at controlling spread of evil,
Enchantments don't exist or burn out super quickly,
Parents still alive and totally loving and non abusive,
Any other setting,
Hero falls in love with the villan,
Etc,
Etc,
Etc.

Trope inversion is itself a trope and honestly one I'm probably even more frustrated with than actual tropes, because at least nobody's pretending they're clever and original. Incompetent mentors, drunken wizards, prophecy confusion... yup, seen them. Most of the more truly original settings I've seen this year have a good old dose of Eurocentric fantasy in, possibly because they spend their time thinking of actually wild and original ideas to add to that, rather than relying on myths and history that a lot of people are at least passingly familiar with.

Offline cupiscent

Re: What Would an Anti-Trope Fantasy Novel Look Like?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2020, 03:04:32 AM »
I saw an older discussion on here that reminded me of this... but I would still love to see a fantasy novel where the Chosen One gets accidentally killed in the first five chapters and the rest of the crew are scrambling to manage the saving of the world for the rest of the book. (I remain open on whether this means rules-lawyering, Weekend-At-Bernies-ing, or some other shenanigans.)

Certainly agree with Peat that half of the trope-subversions or -inversions are basically tropes within themselves. (Hero falls in love with the villain, for instance. Big damn trope.)

I will say that teasing a trope subversion and then double-twisting round so you actually hit the trope dead on is the least satisfying thing in the world, yes, I'm looking at you, Rise-of-Skywalker...

Offline Yora

Re: What Would an Anti-Trope Fantasy Novel Look Like?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2020, 09:55:39 AM »
When you have a novel that has none of the conventions of fantasy, it won't have any traits of fantasy. It probably would be a book of a depressed middle aged men looking out the window in Sweden.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Matthew

Re: What Would an Anti-Trope Fantasy Novel Look Like?
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2020, 09:20:14 PM »
Just because something has been done before doesn't immediately make it trope though.

I would struggle to define the difference if I was being forced to, but I sort of feel something is a trope once it feels overused.

As to trope inversion, I can't say I've read much of that myself. I guess there are lots by the way people have responded but I can't really think of many myself, at least any that turn multiple tropes around in an attempt at lampooning them.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 09:23:06 PM by Matthew »