On Creativity – Tropes and why we love them

A ‘trope’ is a recurrent literary theme, motif, or structure of a plot when it comes to writing novels and stories. Most tropes are presented by authors again and again, in differing formats and story-lines, and yet, though readers generally recognize them and sometimes even preempt certain happenings and resolutions, they still continue to prefer the same type of story-line and continue to read and enjoy such books and stories again and again.

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Most tropes are over-used, and yet, they still sell. Why? I must admit that I myself find that I tend to gravitate towards reading familiar tropes, especially when I’m in a certain mood where I need a nice comfortable reliable story… and yet… is writing a novel and basing it on this much-recycled outline acceptable? I mean – where is creativity?? And what about originality?

Take for example the Rags to Riches trope – here the main character is usually a young unknown person who, through some circumstance or other, ends up becoming rich and famous. Some well-known examples include Cinderella, Pretty Woman and Slum Dog Millionaire.

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Another well-known trope is the Love Triangle – this one actually needs no explanation does it? Everyone enjoys a good love story, but throw in some unrequited love, a couple of misunderstandings, a pinch of jealousy and heartache, and there it is, the usual popular T.V drama series cocktail!

A third trope, which never gets old, is what I call the Ugly Duckling story-line. Think about My Fair Lady, The Princess Diaries, Miss Congeniality or The Devil wears Prada, and you have it. Basically this kind of story also usually ends up becoming a ‘moral lesson’ = Unkept girl has a make-over and transforms into a beauty, then realizes that looks are not everything… but she still looks pretty now anyways.

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Want another one? How about the Unknown Hero who saves the World trope? I guess I don’t even need to give examples for this one… *cough*Spiderman*cough*Superman*cough*Marvelingeneral*

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And what about all those post-apocalyptic dystopian teen-movies which seem to add up all of the above?! The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent, The Giver… ugh! I read the books before there was even a hint of any movie, and I realized early on that they were all the same, and yet I still gobbled them up! Why!?

I guess we all love the familiar, we all dream of becoming rich, popular heroes and that never changes.

Yet, artists, BEWARE. Writing/creating something familiar while portraying it in an entirely new and creative manner is one thing, re-writing the same thing over and over and over again, is another. ‘Familiar’ is a tricky word, since it is most often dangerously close to ‘mediocre’, not to mention ‘boring’. 

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Round-up of Books read in February

It’s the first time I’m doing this, but I think it’s a fairly good idea to summarize both my ratings and my thoughts regarding the books read during each month. The books here are the ones I FINISHED during the month of February. This does not necessarily mean that it’s the first time I have read said books.

So here they are, by the order (date) in which they were finished, that is, read by me ;p I keep my goodreads account as updated as I can. There are 9 of them in all. Not bad, considering I spent a week abroad this month too (I took some books with me ofc).

1. The Death Cure – James Dashner – Maze Runner #3

2 Stars – Whether it’s because these dystopic novels all seem to end up the same, or whether I expected something more, I’m not sure to be totally honest. Suffice it to say that I was kind of dissatisfied by the way the trilogy ended. Thomas’ relationship with Teresa was cloudy and unrealistic to say the least. His whole character left something to be desired, and not just because of the memory loss (gods how I hate that too-facile writer’s construct). Also, the last ‘scene’, reminiscent of Kevin Costner’s movie ‘Waterworld’ was too good to be true, not to mention simplistically explained.

The_Death_Cure2. Coraline – Neil Gaiman

4 stars – I just love Gaiman’s style. He does not write books ‘for kids’, HE IS one of them! Apart from that, his plot-lines are so full of different layers and psychological innuendos that even when they are aimed at children, you know that there are things only an adult will realize too. Each book is a real treasure. WE WANT MORE!

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3. The Lady of the Rivers – Philippa Gregory – The Cousin’s War #3

4 stars – Philippa Gregory’s recount of British history is mesmerizing. Weaving a coloured tapestry made up of real known historical events, mashed with the imagined account of individuals’ everyday emotions and passions, her writing-style is a very interesting blend of magical motives and the intricate psychology behind human nature.

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4. The White Princess – Philippa Gregory – The Cousin’s War #5

4 stars – I had purchased all the Cousin’s War books online, unfortunately they didn’t arrive all at the same time, so I ended up reading some books before others, and not in their intended sequence. This is not as bad as it sounds, since the narrator of each novel is different, so the plot-lines, though interlocking, still make sense no matter which sequence you read them in. That being said, like the rest of the series, I loved the political yet individualistic tribulations.

download (1)5. A Wheel of Stars – Laura Gilmour Bennet

3 stars – This wasn’t the first time I had read this novel, though quite some years had passed since I read it first. I took it with me during my trip to France as I knew I would be visiting various Cathar Castles, and since the novel takes us back to the Cathar crusade, I knew it would be quite interesting to read in that particular setting. That being said, the writing is ‘okeyish’, as are the characters, nothing more.

download (2)6. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

3 stars – I already wrote my own review of this novel in details https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/the-unbecoming-of-mara-dyer-michelle-hodkin-book-review-spoilers/

download (3)7. The Evolution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

4 stars – Wrote a more in detail review of this one too here https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/book-review-the-evolution-of-mara-dyer-michelle-hodkin/

download (4)8. The Retribution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

3 stars – And for this one too https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/book-review-the-retribution-of-mara-dyer-michelle-hodkin/

157684099. Daughter of the Blood – Anne Bishop – The Black Jewels #1

3 stars – I had kind of forgotten this series, even though I had bought them ages ago. Was curious to see whether I would evaluate them differently now that I am older. The fact that unlike most books, the main character is not the narrator is very freshening. There are multiple narrators, all of whom revolve around the main ‘heroine’ however we only ever see her through other people’s eyes, and never actually hear her own narrative voice. This is very original, yet can be frustrating too!

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Anyways, there’s the haul! Next month will probably continue Bishop’s series, as well as a couple of more Philippa Gregory Books. Also have got a brand new copy of Gaiman’s ‘Good Omens’ waiting for me and calling to me sonorously from my sitting room table ^^ So much to look forward to! ❤

Book Review – The Retribution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

Personal Grading – 4 stars

Considering how cheesy and ultra-‘Twilighty’ this trilogy was when it started, I’m glad to say that it did not continue to play out that way. As I wrote in the book review to Book 2, the story evolves, the characters develop, and in Book 3, we are finally presented with a specific explanation and ending. I am not sure I am totally satisfied with the ending itself, however one could easily think that Michelle Hodkin could be thinking about writing a continuation, so I’ll let it lie for now.

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That being said, I loved the veiled references to the Goddess Maat, not to mention the various jokes and innuendos referring to various movies and books. Michelle, I like your reading list! ;p

Strangely enough perhaps, it’s the character of Noah which I like less. He is too perfect, too hot, too awesome at anything he does and is. I get it – he’s the HERO, but really… I’d have preferred Jaimie. With his weird-humored t-shirts, his badass remarks, his assholish behavior at times, his unswerving friendship and loyalty, not to mention his smartass attitude – he’s so much more realistic and present than Noah – with his neverending litany about courting death, for absolutely no reason that the reader can fathom.

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That being said, I really liked this book, though again, I think it was too short and abrupt. But then, every good novel is ‘too short’ isn’t it?

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