Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Figures of Speech ~or~ Figurative Writing ~~or~~ Fun with Words :-)

This post is for Readers and Writers.

Readers because it’s good to know that what you read might be saying more than you think it says.

Writers because it’s always good to know if your figurative language actually says what you intend to say.

Some folks call all words used in non-literal ways Tropes.

And, some tropes are used so often they become Cliches—“phrases that are overused or betray a lack of original thought”.

In just a bit, I’ll direct you to a Site that might be more fun than you imagine—some people have trouble imagining that studying words can be fun :-)

First, I’ll list a few types of non-literal use of words:

Now for some fun

There’s a Site called TV Tropes but it ain’t just about TV.

I’ll let them explain:

“This wiki is a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction.

“Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means ‘stereotyped and trite’. In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are not looking for dull and uninteresting entries. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them.”

And, they have a page that may have more about the meaning of “trope” than you thought you might want to know :-)

But I do need to quote from that page in order to be fair to the word “trope”:

“Above all, a trope is a convention. It can be a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom… you know it when you see it. Tropes are not inherently disruptive to a story; however, when the trope itself becomes intrusive, distracting the viewer rather than serving as shorthand, it has become a cliché.

“On this wiki, ‘trope’ has the even more general meaning of a pattern in storytelling, not only within the media works themselves, but also in related aspects such as the behind-the-scenes aspects of creation, the technical features of a medium, and the fan experience. The idea being that storytelling is not just writing, it is the whole process of creating and telling/showing a story.”

The first drop-down menu on the Site has these categories:

Welcome To TV Tropes
Ask The Tropers
Trope Repair Shop
Recent Discussions
Latest Reviews
You Know, That Thing Where…
Remember That Show?
Lost And Found
Works That Need A Summary
What Goes Where

I bolded Welcome To TV Tropes because that’s where they explain how to Contribute to the Site as well as how to Customize it for your own style of use.

I’ll leave you with a bit more explanation from the Site—an indication of why it might be fun to visit:

“We are not a stuffy encyclopedic wiki. We’re a buttload more informal. We encourage breezy language and original thought. There Is No Such Thing As Notability, and no citations are needed. If your entry cannot gather any evidence by the Wiki Magic, it will just wither and die….We are also not a wiki for bashing things. Once again, we’re about celebrating fiction, not showing off how snide and sarcastic we can be.”

If you do visit, it would be great to hear what you think in the Comments :-)
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
* Google Author Page

6 responses to “Figures of Speech ~or~ Figurative Writing ~~or~~ Fun with Words :-)

  1. deadeyescribe December 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Oh how I **love** to trope-alop along! I love this post also, and as I remember Barthes wrote a chapter on tropes in one of his books…


  2. Barbara Blackcinder January 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    My question to you Alex, is what do you think of Barthes theories on all authors being relegated to nothing more than scriptors? it seems to me a bit ‘deterministic’, and maybe more than a little cynical as well? but I’m only familiar with the small article in Wikipedia, so it’s surely not authoritative, qualitative or quantitative? Just curious what your opinion of it is?


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