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A really cool online tool (part 2)

November 4, 2013

A few weeks ago, we told you about the TV Tropes website. TV Tropes actually started out with television tropes. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary a trope is “a word, phrase, or image used in a new and different way in order to create an artistic effect.”

According to the website, “Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means ‘stereotyped and trite.’ In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are not looking for dull and uninteresting entries. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them.”

Although the site is called TV Tropes, its examples include a number of media including literature.

But the website also includes two incredibly unique tools. The pitch generator gives very quick descriptions of potential stories, crossing one trope with another. For instance, Immune to Drugs meets Screw Destiny. Immune to Drugs is someone like Jim Ignatowski on Taxi, Johnny Fever on WKRP, or Keith Richard in real life. They should be dead because of the drugs, but they aren’t. Screw Destiny is someone who decides with ferocity that destiny can kiss their butt and they’ll do what they want.

The pitch generator might be useful for themes.

The story generator might be useful for stories. It lists a setting, plot, narrative device, hero, villain, character as device, and characterization device. In other words, it helps you frame how you’re going to write your story.

You can also use the random trope link at the top of the page if you want to trust your storytelling to, uhhh, destiny.

One Comment
  1. Elizabeth Ressler permalink
    November 4, 2013 12:40 pm


    Let me begin with a disclaimer to my comment below. I have no knowledge or have read anything about your blog topic. I arrived at my thoughts from “sleeping” on the elusive “How to Get Paid for Writing” theme that is posing an ever-changing moving target for the industry. And I do appologize for possible wordiness.

    Would my cross-linking two FWA blog posts–one about the R-word, the other about Free Content–make this a trope: FEE ME! Please note that I sometimes get the answers to Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy before the contestants, but most of the time I don’t.

    An art class exercise many years ago required me to pick an object and find 100 different ways to use it. Since then, I’ve practiced writing with an exercise called Morning Pages. Today, as an FWA subscription member, I read the daily blog as a practive writing exercise instead of having one decided for me on Wednesdays. Doing one of those would be like jumping off a bridge…I would have to think about it too much before doing it, which would end in not doing it.

    It’s very helpful to connect and learn on this blog. It’s also helpful to see a topic that speaks to me with an unrelenting urge to comment without hesitation to see my FINAL POST on-screen thus giving me concrete evidence of my skill level, in the hopes of having stated and written words worth remembering or possibly generate a reply in the process.

    At some point I will accumulate enough hours writing to have my work appraised or think about paying a Ghost Writer. I went through the process of learning how to “show” my AKC purebred, standard Longhaired Dachshund and finally paid a Dog Handler to Champion my bitch because I wanted to clone her for succesive Best in Shows, which, perhaps, translates into further recognition and $$$ the same as for a writer.

    My desire to become published has it’s own truths: I will keep at it or move on. As another Real Wannabe Writer, I will be satisfied to achieve the same as a friend who made the 2013 FWA “unpublished” Literary Winner List…the same work she informed me that was kept under the bed when I inquired as to whether her book was finished and ready for sale.

    Thanks for sharing your cross-connection as a way to invent a trope of my own with the option for others to use for free: FEE ME. If not a trope, perhaps it can be called a new grass-roots movement.

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