PubCrawl Podcast: Fictional Tropes

This week Kelly and JJ start a new series about TROPES IN FICTION. What makes a trope cliche? How do you subvert a trope? Also, HAMILTON MIXTAPE.

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Show Notes

  • Tropes are the most basic storytelling element: you can have plot tropes, character tropes, premise tropes, etc.
  • Tropes can be written “straight” or subverted.
    • Just because a trope is written in earnest, if it’s executed well, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cliche.
    • Tropes exist because humans gravitate toward recognizable patterns, and that includes in our fiction.
    • The difference between a well-executed trope and a cliche is complexity.
    • Cliches happen when the tropes become shorthand, e.g. when we’re expected to know what a character is like just based on their trope, rather than the writer taking the time to flesh out the character
  • Subverting tropes is harder than executing them straight.
    • You need to know the rules in order to break them.
    • Subverting a trope just for the sake of subverting them doesn’t work.
    • Properly subverting tropes means that you need to build up expectations before subverting them.
    • Starting from the trope is a quick way to laziness.

What We’re Working On

  • Kelly is still a post-election funk.
  • JJ is still working on book 2.

Books Discussed/What We’re Reading

Off Menu Recommendations

What You’re Asking

We’re paraphrasing this week’s question because it contained specific information about a book and author, but the questioner wanted to know how to get physical copies of self-published books into bookstores.

The honest truth is that this is very, very, very difficult. We’ve mentioned in previous episodes about the sales force in traditional publishing houses, and the function of the buyer at different retail accounts. The buyer at these retail accounts is responsible for stocking the physical bookstores, and they may choose not to carry or carry in limited quantities copies of books. (For a variety of reasons, including but not limited to: they didn’t like the cover, the title, the premise, or they were having a bad day, or something.) Publishers are very keen to maintain good relationships with these buyers, and it’s not often these buyers establish connections with anyone outside the traditional industry.

That’s all for this week! Next week we’ll be continuing our series on tropes with TROPES WE LIKE. YES, WE’RE GOING TO BE SUBJECTIVE ABOUT IT. As always, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments, or reach out to us on Twitter with the hashtag #askpubcrawl.

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