Thanks, everyone! (For the record, it's "he" and underage.)
Being aware of tropes isn't the problem. Famous authors obviously didn't obsessively catelogue every recurring thing in fiction, but they were generally well-read, intelligent, and fond of contemplating and discussing literature; they were still well-aware of recurring devices in fiction. That didn't stop them from writing organically.
The problem is that young tropers often come here, read this wiki, and think this really is the height of literary analysis - that all of fiction actually is best viewed as a collection of tropes, perhaps with various "Whatever-verted" qualifiers tacked on. They get the idea that this really is the best way of breaking down fiction - and, more importantly, that fiction ought to be built up in the same way. Lurking here, I've seen far too many troper writing projects begin by making a list of character names and describing them as a list of tropes, as if the best way to write a character were really to take a handful of trope names and splice them together. The result is that the characters are artificial, not organic; forced, not natural; derivative, not springing from a new seed. It's a phenomenon that results not from analyzing recurring trends in literature but from thinking making lists of things that happened multiple times in literature is really the end-all be-all of analysis.
That's why what horrifies me is just how many posts in that thread use metaphors like "tropes are atoms, works are molecules". They seem to believe that works cannot be built out of anything but tropes and that every work is merely a complex arrangement of tropes. And that's not a good way of reading or
edited 20th Apr '12 2:36:59 PM by ALibrarianofBabel
Never build a character piecemeal out of tropes.