Trope means to turn, to direct, to altar, or to change. Today the word also means the device or ploy of a particular genre. Movies, as well as books, have tropes. Horror movies are a good example, and the Scream series have taken this to a new high, giving the tropes rules and evolving the series through an ever twisting set of rules, constantly upping the anti of what is expected for the new serial killer in horror movies.

Dr Who has several of these ‘tropes’, so does science fiction in general, and fantasy. I noticed one the other day that I thought was cool, one that I noticed it, and two, in how well it has evolved Dr. Who in similar ways to the horror genre. The Trope: have a character that regenerates into a different character every time he dies. It not only allows for new story lines and cliff hangers, it allows the producer to get rid of an actor and replace him with another tall skinny, weird-guy if there is a problem. Which leads to another trope, the sidekick. used for comic relief, emotional support or just plain fun in a script, play, movie, or book. Karen Gillian is the current favorite of Dr. Who. Well warranted in my opinion, she makes him better. So did Billie Piper. It also gives viewers two different heroes to identify with. The storyline of the first episode in the new season, is based on this very trope, not because I think they’re writing out the main character, but because it turns that particular device on it’s head. Again.

Showing a gun in the opening scene of a book is a trope. It means the character is going to use it in some way. It sets you up for it and lets you know all in the same moment. Jim Butcher use a fantasy trope in his Harry Dresden series of books. The wizard with a staff, only the book is set in Chicago, in modern times, and no one believes in magic. It was well done. Not to let Jim Butcher go, he has another series of books – The Codex Alera. It has, at the heart of it, the premise of a Roman Phalanx that has disappeared as it’s trope, and it was subtle and brilliant in it’s execution.

Tropes are everywhere in movies and books, it’s a trick and when it’s done right it’s masterful.

Jim Butcher is one of my favorite writers and anything he writes is worth a read. Twice.

Be kind, often you don’t get a second chance. It might be God on the bus seat next to you; who knows what he’s really asking for.