The Greatest and Most Horrible Website Ever

Know that if you click on the link below it will take you to the most wonderful and most terrible website in the entire universe. Do you dare?  Oh, what? You want a little background first? Ok. (chicken)

Basically what the dastardly users of this site have done is catalog every single commonly used literary and dramatic trope they could find and illustrated them with copious examples. Stock characters. Standard plotlines. Common themes. It's all here and it's absolutely exhaustive. Seriously, you could spend days on this site.

Ready now? Ok, go here.  Keep in mind this link takes you only to the tropes for Post-Apocalyptic stuff, but you should definitely explore it all. Sci-Fi. Fantasy. Action/Adventure. Dive in!

Now, why is it wonderful and horrible?

Well, it is living proof that the struggle for a real honest to goodness original idea is more uphill than ever, heck it may not even be possible anymore. I know I found plenty of characters and situations in here that are in my book and I bet you will too. It's definitely a little disconcerting to see the product of your long hours of sweat and toil laid out with proof that all of it has been done before.

But the thing is, and this is what I think is wonderful about it, presented with such overwhelming proof that pretty much everything has been done is, well, it's sort of freeing right? You don't have to reinvent the wheel. If your favorite writers have used these tropes, and used them to great effect, then maybe it's all just about what you bring to it--how you mix and match ideas, play around with them, tweek them. Maybe a fun challenge is taking a tried and true idea, something that's been done a million times, and doing it in a way only you would do it. Maybe that's what originality is now.

What tropes have I got in my book? Well, I've got me a Depopulation Bomb and some Disaster Democracy . Oh, if you're looking for a couple good Armor Piercing Questions you'll find them in my book. I definitely have the Action Girlfriend.  Hmm, wait, maybe she's actually the Cute Bruiser...

Ok people. Take a look and cop to it in the comments. What tropes are in your book?  An Amulet of Concentrated Awesome perhaps?  Maybe the Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults?  Do your characters at any time have Tea with Cthulhu?


Unknown said...

This? Is brilliant.

OK, let's see...

I've got me a healthy chunk of Disaster Democracy, which came about after The Plague. A pinch of New Eden and Villain World. I've got one more trope in there....but it would be such a spoiler to post about it :)

Melody said...

What?! You mean all my stories aren't NEW?!? *sigh* :)

Jeff Hirsch said...

Ugh, Melody I know. There is nothing new under sun as they say.

Can't wait to see that last hidden trope Beth!

Angie Smibert said...

Yes, Beth, now I'm dying to find out what the hidden trope is.

My book isn't really apocalyptic. Tropes, yes, but I couldn't find the main one listed. So I'll make it up. I have Greedy Corporate Big Brother lurking in the background.

btw, If you've never read the Turkey City Lexicon--which the trope site links to under speculative fiction--go forth and peruse it. It's a classic list of things not to do.

Anonymous said...

I agree that reading these tropes is actually freeing. It's nice to know that the onus is NOT on me to think up something out of nothing. I'm merely following story patterns that already exist.

Which leads me to a rather philosophical question: do these tropes exist because someone invented each one at some point in history, or do they exist independent of the stories in which they appear and thus can be used by an author who has never before encountered them? I'd like to think that these tropes are just explanations of the channels along which we can think--that they weren't created so much as discovered.

But maybe I'm overthinking it.


Annette Lyon said...

That is a truly terrifying website. And freakishly true at the same time. I'm not sure whether to be relieved or horrified.

Jeff Hirsch said...

Hi Parker--no, I don't think you're over thinking at all. We could get all Joseph Campbell about things and say that there are a few basic archetypes that have been floating around since people began telling stories, that are somehow a part of us, a expression of how we think about ourselves and the world. We see these across all cultures.

I think it's possible that we started with these and we built on them, varying them (and then varying the variations) over time until we came up with the vast storehouse of tropes we see on this site. But they all have their roots in something basic in all of us.

I think those root types are available to all, though many of the variations are probably specific to a culture and a time.

How's that for overthinking?

Okie said...

That's very cool.

As a potential writing experiment, I like the idea of selecting a few intriguing tropes and trying to mash them altogether in a way that at least feels original.

Thanks for sharing.