Tropes are for Chumps
So, I have lots of English-major friends, who do all sorts of English major things. They sit in coffee shops and enjoy reading Don Delillo novels and they like to talk about crazy shit like scansion and New Criticism and dramatic conventions. They like fancy lattes and pencil skirts and putting their hair up in chop sticks or whatever. I’m not skinny enough to wedge myself into a pencil skirt, and I don’t like Don Delillo, so when I tell someone that I’m an English major they just kind of look at me like I must be pulling their leg.*
I have one particular English major friend who keeps going on about tropes. I will say, she’s the only person in the world who treats me like an actual English major. Unfortunately, I don’t want her to stop thinking of me that way, so when she starts talking about something that I’m absolutely clueless about, instead of asking her to explain it, I just nod enthusiastically and wait for the whiskey to make her sleepy long enough for me to duck out of the room and look up whatever it is she’s been talking about.
“It’s so strange,” she’ll say to me, “watching television now. I can’t do it without pointing out all the tropes.”
I’ve made a lot of guesses at what, exactly, a trope might be. Here’s a list of things that tropes are NOT.
- A type of mushroom
- A species of South American frog
- Part of a combustible engine
- Anything to do with the trajectory needed to escape the Earth’s atmosphere in a rocketship
- A part of the human ear
- A part of a Vulcan’s ear
Guys, I Google’d this. I looked it up in my Handbook to Literature. I Wikipedia’d this crap, and you know what? I only barely know what a trope is.
But I’m going to try and explain it to you.**
I think – I think – that they’re cliches. The only reason I have any doubts about this is because, if… if they are cliches… why don’t they just call them that? Why is there a new, more pretentious-sounding word? English majors already have enough problems avoiding – or failing at avoiding – pretentiousness as it is.***
So, that’s my adventure with tropes. It went a lot of strange and fantastic places, but my princess was in another castle.
Help a gal out?
* Also I play Dungeons & Dragons and I own more Iron Man tshirts than anything else, so I’m sure that doesn’t help my case.
** This is part of the reason that I quit being an education major. If our children are the future, I do not want the future to be run by people who think the way that I talk.
*** I seriously almost punched a guy in the face one time in a workshop of one of my manuscripts because he told me that I reminded him of Jack Kerouac. I understand that, to the rest of my fellow English majors, that’s a compliment,† but to me, them’s fightin’ words.
† Actually, I’ve only really received two really awesome compliments as far as my writing goes. A fiction prof told me that I write like William Faulkner (whom I do like; see As I Lay Dying), and a classmate once said that, if Jim Butcher and Kim Harrison had a love child, it would be me.