Tropes!

Tropes are fun. I know some of the bloggers have decided to talk about why they’re okay to use, so I’ll leave that up to more eloquent people. Let me tell you about the tropes I’ve used in my writing and why.

A Curse!

Lisbeth and Adrian exchanged glances. “We are Avialies,” Lisbeth said, “and all that have our blood have the power to change shape. Those with purer blood have stronger powers, but that’s beside the point. There is a group of men and women who regard us as dangerous. Although our family has always had enemies, this group formally came to be known as the Protectors forty years ago. Ten years ago, they used the magic of the Thieran family to curse the Avialies. We cannot have children.”

She paused for just a moment, and Grace asked, “You’re infertile?”

“That would be too kind,” Lisbeth said. “Woman can get pregnant, but no pregnancy passes three months. The fight occasionally takes the life of the mother as well.” She half-glanced at Adrian, who had his gaze on Grace intently. “The Avialies haven’t had children for ten years.”

Why?
The series is essentially about the struggle between the Avialies and the Protectors, and I wanted there to be a very real result of such hatred. I wanted there to be something that the Protectors had taken from the Avialies. By searching for a way to break the curse, they’re rebelling against the people who had the political power.

A “Chosen One” Prophecy!

“Three years ago, I had a vision,” Lisbeth said. “The gift of prophecy occasionally comes to Avialies late in life. I saw a woman, one who wasn’t an Avialie, breaking the curse.” She stood and put her hands on Grace’s shoulders. “You’re that woman.”

Why?
Well, I needed a way to break the curse! This may be a very common trope, but I think it works because it makes your main character special. It gives her a purpose in life and a goal for the book. It also gives the author a chance to deal with destiny versus free will.

A Love Triangle!

Here, Grace is eavesdropping on Dar (her past lover) and William (the prince, who she just said yes to a courtship to)
Grace closed her eyes as the night breeze whispered past her hair. She gripped the flower in her hand, imagining their faces as they spoke. Their guarded expressions, Dar’s dark hair, and Will’s fair features.
When Dar said nothing, the prince continued, “I’ve asked her for courtship, and she seemed eager.”

“I hope she’ll be happy with you.”

“You’re not going to be any trouble?”

“No, your Highness, that’s why I left. I know my family is still searching for something to break the curse, but I’ve come to realize the only ways to do so will bring more death.”

Why?
At first, I just wanted William to give Grace a little bit of a distraction from Dar, then I realized he’d probably be interested in something more. In the first book, William is kind of representative of her normal life and Dar represents the unknown, the exotic other world that she’s trying to figure out. It’s another way to show the choice that Grace faces.

A Quest!

Sierra looked around again, then met Grace’s eyes. “Did she tell you about how Evan wants to find the ancient texts?”

Grace nodded. “She mentioned it. I don’t understand, though, what exactly are they?”

“They’re a bunch of storybooks. Some people say spell books, too, but it’s been years since anyone has seen them. Evan’s set on it.” She fidgeted. “We’re leaving tonight. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but he’s not very strong, and I can’t leave him to the Protectors.”

“Do you have any idea where they are?”

“Not really,” Sierra said, her gaze on the path ahead of them, “but he’s not in the mood to listen to reason.”

“And he thinks the ancient texts can break the curse somehow?”

Sierra nodded.

Why?
I thought, ‘Well, the curse needs to be broken, but how?’ And the characters believe the answer can be found in the ancient texts. Conveniently, these have been lost for a couple hundred years. A quest sent my characters on a mission — across unfamiliar lands while the Protectors pursued them. Another common trope, but it’s probably because it’s so fun to write!

So, when you read Promising Light, there are some very familiar fantasy tropes. But I hope that these conventions feel new because of dynamic characters the reader will grow to love (we have a married couple reuniting after two years, a spoiled, determined noble, and a quiet shape changer) and a plot that keeps them turning the pages. I hope to take the reader on an adventure they didn’t expect, even if it has a few road posts people recognize.

Emily Ann Ward is the author of Passages, Beyond Home, Finding Fiona, and The Protectors series. One of her first stories featured a young girl whose doll came to life. The rest is history. When it comes to fiction, she writes mainly young adult, contemporary, and fantasy. She also writes nonfiction, ranging from stories of her travels to thoughts on God and the Bible. Aside from writing, she’s also a content editor for Entranced Publishing. She loves reading, traveling, sociology, religion, and Reese’s sticks. Currently, she lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband Chris and their crazy cats.

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