Embrace the TROPES: The Puzzle Plot

A rare and a daunting trope, the Puzzle Trope requires just the right storyline. As its name entails, the Puzzle Trope is a series of puzzle pieces. The writer feeds the reader mere crumbs of the story and its actual facts, never giving the reader a full picture. Or in the worst case scenario (or best, depending how you view it) the writer gives the reader just enough of a picture that the reader makes incorrect assumptions. Plenty of mind-screwing potential here. The best writing is when other puzzle pieces are laid bare for the reader but are missed in the complexity until the final reveal.

When played out to its best, this offers the book and/or novel series re-readability. I guarantee that a second reading of a series that utilizes the Puzzle Trope will not read exactly as the first. You will see the puzzle pieces that the writer gave as well as the pieces that the writer left hidden along the way.

Fan theories are often plentiful, and this trope works ridiculously well in series formats. Not just relegated to the Mystery genre, I feel that the best novels that utilize this trope are those outside of the Mystery genre. Perhaps the best example would be Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy. I promise, reading this series a second time through will leave you wondering how you did not notice some of the details.

Examples in other popular media forms include video games Kingdom Hearts and Bioshock. In TV series there is the ever popular Once Upon a Time, Lost, and Heroes.

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Embrace the Tropes Part 4

Today’s topic: The Heroic Idiot

I LOVE this trope. I love this trope so much that I made my main character Maxine based off of this trope.

The Heroic Idiot is the person that you probably don’t want to ever come save you, but somehow they are probably the first ones who will. The intelligence level is low but they often have some sort of belief that they want to aggressively hold onto.

Most of the time their saving grace comes in those final moments when all of their friends’ efforts have failed – they find the answer! Or, sometimes they are the ones who have created the problem in the first place and have thus triggered the story (nice job breaking it, hero).

I give you my favorite examples of this trope: Percy Jackson from Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. Harry Potter from J.K.Rowlings’ Harry Potter was this too. There’s also my favorite Althalus from David Edding’s Redemption of Althalus (yes, he is an intelligent thief, but let’s be honest: in everything else he is just dumb).

Video games are rife with this trope, too. Sora from Kingdom Hearts would be my favorite. And just about every main character in the Tales of series.

It is the classic trope used in Middle Grade and Young Adult as well because, let’s face it, kids are idiots (unless you are Hermione Granger, in which case you are in a class of your own).

The pros of the trope, though, are also its cons. It’s an easy trope for a writer. We get to create a character who is “dumb to the world” which gives us writers a chance to explain things to him as a stand-in proxy for our readers. We do not have to get too terribly creative with how we present our information to our readers. We can avoid that awkward situation “but my character should know this” and thereby forced to be more creative.

Because our character is an idiot we get to make all sorts of creative (or rather, non creative) solutions for their problems. Writer’s dilemma: I need my main character to press the button but he has no reason to! -Insert Idiot Hero- Writer: Oh great, my character will just press the button because he has ADHD and he thinks “oooh what does this button do?”

It is also the easiest way to create character development. As the story progresses our main character is usually expected to have graduated from an Idiot and the writer gets to build that intelligence scene-by-scene.

But let’s be honest: our readers will only take so much of the Idiot before they start to expect a certain level of maturity and honesty. If in the final finale, unless it is for comedic purposes, it is best to not resolve the final conflict with a stupid blunder. The readers will just feel cheated. (I feel much of the final book of The Maze Runner, Death Cure, was full of this.)

So, while I love this trope, there are a few cons so writers please – PLEASE – use responsibly.

I chose this trope not because it was easy but because I am using an anti-hero. My character is a delinquent who might just destroy the world herself. Her idiocy plays into that. She is also the reincarnation of a deity and is expected to have a certain level of morality.

Plus I want to prove that book-smarts are not everything. That even the most worthless seeming person has worth. Just because they do not make good grades in school has no reflection on their true intelligence. By being dumb my character is actually – uhh, well, I’m starting to give away some subplot points so how about I stop here.

Embrace the Tropes Part 3

This is slowly turning into a really good article series that I’m very interested in continuing. I hope you all are enjoying it, too. For today’s article I’m going to focus on the trope that I’ve pretty much built my whole book around. It’s my third favorite, but don’t let that fool you.

For today’s trope, we are going to discuss: God is Flawed.

Being the firm and devout Christian believe that I am (though I will confess I’ve yet to step foot into a church… being a Navy brat and having life uprooted every three years deprives you of a few luxuries)… But still being a devout Christian believer, I believe in an all-powerful supreme being that is perfect, merciful, but still very judgmental. I must strive to fit in His image every waking moment of my life.

But, even as a child in middle school I found this philosophy downright taxing, but I won’t get into that here. I’ve already talked about what feelings eventually evolved into (stay flawed, remember?). So, the moment I came across the Greek and Roman mythologies the idea that there were hundreds of pagan Gods that were very much not perfect was astounding.

I have always been attracted to these old mythos. I love the idea of a God that is just as pathetically normal as me. I don’t need to fit some image. I’m already in that image. And let’s be quite blunt about it: most of the heroes of the old mythos had better values than those Gods that they served.

The old mythos still do the same thing. They teach a concept known to the Greeks as sophrosyne. Walking the middle line between “hubris” and “complacency”. From stories such as Icarus and his ill-fated wings from flying too high, to even Athena vs Arachne in a weaving competition.

Stories that follow this trope are so far and few and in between. It is perhaps one of the things that has even appealed to me for my favorite writer David Eddings. He, too, portrayed his Gods as wise and all-powerful, but still so human – and quite likable for the most part.

In my own story I am very careful to never use the word God – that’s not what my pantheon is created around. However, they are all very human. I believe in the concept that we should strive to be the best that we can be at all times. We must always strive to attain the higher ground, turn the other cheek, etc. But at the end of the day I still want it recognized that for all of my effort I am still me, and I am still human. It’s just fun to think that sometimes Gods can be human, too.

Embrace the Tropes Part 2

So you might recall the earlier post that I did about Embracing the TROPES. That time I talked about “The Chosen One.” Today I’m going to talk about my second favorite and one that’s a bit more controversial. “The Damsel in Distress.”

Let’s start out with talking about Twilight. I enjoyed the books first book even though I think Stephanie Meyers has some serious flaws as a writer (but hey! I’m unpublished and she has millions, who am I to criticize?). I hear recently she has actually published a Twilight in reverse. Life and Death. With a male protagonist and a female vampire. All to strike back at the witch hunters slamming her for the “damsel in distress”. (The book has so many flaws, I think D.I.D is the least one of them.)

But… w-wait?! I LOVE DAMSELS IN DISTRESS!! Call me old fashion, maybe a bit old school, but I like the story of the girl being rescued by the guy. What’s wrong with it? It’s romantic if nothing else. The damsel locked away in the tower and the male that can’t get to her until he’s overcome insurmountable odds (like slaying a dragon).

Seriously, most males are like…guy-staring-main

So to hear of a guy going to a few great lengths is highly amusing to me. After all… “face the fire breathing dragon or… just find another hot chick?” That’s a weighted choice, don’t you think? Very admirable of him.

Personally one of my favorite movies (as old school and laughable as I’m sure it is) is still Krull. And, you know, because I’m a Disney fanatic, I still think one of the most beautiful scenes is the waking of Sleeping Beauty. Snow White, too, has her moment.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with balancing out the trope. A bit of Princess Leia Star Wars flavored damsel-in-distress works, too. Of course Meg from Disney’s Hercules.

There’s a charm to having a guy saving a lady. I still appreciate a good damsel that is just a meek and mild tiny thing. Not EVERY BLOODY GIRL has to be strong. Guys can be the strong ones while the girls get to remain the thinkers and enjoy the safety of a guy’s arms now and again.Tamaki_and_haruhi_huggs

Though I think the best sort of stories are the ones like Beauty and the Beast. They save each other in equal parts.

Embrace The TROPES

Is there anything more delicious than tropes? Now, don’t get me wrong. I know. There are some tropes that are just downright boring and overused (Cinderella life change story for one). But there are those tropes that no matter what others think or how over used they are, they get you super excited.

For me it will always be the trope of “The Chosen One”. Be it a super hero with a mystical gift. Or that special boy that no one realized would be special. Or maybe even just a Katniss Everdeen who was a “The Chosen One” without ever trying to be and through no solid fault of her own other than her incredible desire to survive.

These stories fascinate and excite me. The moment the Wise One steps in and reveals The Chosen One’s destiny and suddenly they are thrust to the forefront of the fate’s battleground.

A million people came before them, but somehow they are that special chosen person.

David Eddings had some of the most incredible “The Chosen One” reveal moments. Though I think my favorite will always be in the movie The Neverending Story. The moment that the Empress reveals that it’s Bastion who has to save everyone. That it’s more than just a story. Aww, perfect, exciting. THRILLING!

I find it ironic that in my own novel I would choose to write about a character that’s actually the exact opposite, the antithesis. Maxine isn’t told you’re “the chosen one.” She’s told she’s “The Fallen One.” …How did I mess up my own favorite trope. You would think in my own story that I’m writing I would embrace my own FAVORITE trope. *sigh* Where did I become so confused?