Twisting Tropes

Wikipedia defines a trope as: something recurring across a genre or type of creative work.

Essentially tropes are elements or themes that are used (or overused) throughout a particular genre. Using these elements isn’t, in and of itself, a bad thing. Especially if you find ways to twist those tropes to your bidding.

My Griffins & Gunpowder Universe is not immune from dipping into some of the more common Fantasy-genre tropes or conventions, but I’ve made an effort to make them not so conventional.

One of the most common conventions of Epic Fantasy tends to be the medieval or pseudo-medieval setting. While this is increasingly being challenged, it has very nearly become one of the things that identifies Epic Fantasy. From JRR Tolkein and CS Lewis to George RR Martin, the medieval/pseudo-medieval setting has been explored extensively.

When I was originally building the Griffins & Gunpowder universe, I had envisioned a world that was very medival. But then I started developing my idea of what the world of Zaria would be. I settled on a semi-medival world, where castles and feudal lords were slowly being replaced by sprawling towns and railroads.

Keeping the semi-medieval setting allowed me to maintain a connection with the familiar settings of Epic Fantasy, while adding my own take on it.

The use of “other races” is another Epic Fantasy convention that I decided to bring into my world and make some adjustments to. In the world of Zaria, I’ve already introduced elves and orcs are on the docket for later.

My elves aren’t all your typical tree-dwelling, archery and nature loving hippies. Some of the elves are the elder-advisor type, but there is an entire segment of elves that are swash-buckling sailors, devoted to building and commanding the fastest ships.

The orcs of Zaria are vastly different than the brutish, mindless orcs that are typical of the Epic Fantasy genre. I decided to split my orcs into two different factions. The first faction is based off of the Native American tribes. They live in the plains, hunting and gathering as nomadic tribes. The second faction is a group that has assimilated the lifestyle of the elves and humans around them: they’ve built cities and roads and live more in line with the other races of my world.

My elves emerged organically; they just sprouted from the nations that I had designed. The orcs, however, were created specifically to counter the orcish stereotype.

So what tropes do you hate to see? How would you like to see those tropes twisted?

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One comment on “Twisting Tropes

  1. I’ve personally never liked the “Always Chaotic Evil Race” trope. In my series, “The Star-Runner Chronicles”, I’ve used my knowledge of the real world history of racial and cultural interactions, prejudices, and misunderstandings to deconstruct that trope and give a more even-handed interpretation of the various peoples of my world.

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