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11/02/2019 16:06:57 •••

Tropes are Bad: The Series

Let me get something straight here. Tropes are neither good nor bad; like science, Tropes Are Tools that can be used, misused, abused, perused, etc. with varying results. It annoys me to no end when people say they hate a trope, call one cliche/unoriginal, or think that a work having a certain trope they dislike is a sign of bad writing. I'm sure these people are not necessarily stupid, but they are still fundamentally misunderstanding what a trope is and how it works. And that is why I dislike Terrible Writing Advice.

I know the creator of this series is a professional author with a critical eye towards storytelling, but the way he talks about tropes and other storytelling tools makes it clear he doesn't understand the true nature of tropes. I don't care if you hate love triangles or not, but guess what? It is totally possible to write a good love triangle as much as it is to write a bad love triangle! GASP! I know, shocking, right? Well guess what, that's real life, and like a lot of things IRL, no storytelling techniques are objectively good or objectively bad, rather they can only be subjectively labelled as such depending on their execution and the audience. The real quality of a storytelling technique should lie in not what kind is being used, but how it is being used - and even then, it's still all dependent on others' opinions. Terrible Writing Advice fails to understand that tropes are fundamentally subjective and thus comes off as a snob, which is strange because you think the creator, who is legitimately a good writer, would understand the non-objective nature of tropes better than some doofus ranting on TV Tropes like me.

Furthermore, I really despise his style of presenting his discussions on storytelling techniques. There are countless Youtubers who try to earn subscribers by using this snarky, edgy, cynical style when critically analyzing film, literature, etc. because apparently they believe the average person thinks that being mean and snide towards the things you review is comedy gold (the sad thing is that it works because many of these guys have thousands of subscribers). Well, it isn't! It's obnoxious, boring, and repetitive. The ONLY channel I've seen do this well is Overly Sarcastic Productions, and that's because their usage of it is minimal and doesn't get in the way of the meat of its content and the actually good stuff (see their video on the Rule of Three for example). Unfortunately, Terrible Writing Advice does not succeed at this, because sarcastic and cynical smartassery is the basis for the series' style. As a result, it actually makes the series look annoyingly smug, and not actually intelligent. Cynicism and sarcasm do not equate intelligence despite what everyone seems to believe; in fact, in my experience, those who are most arrogant and in-your-face about their intelligence are often not intelligent at all (it's like that "I am so smart! S-M-R-T!" scene on The Simpsons).

Overall, Terrible Writing Advice is absolutely nothing special, and really only enjoyable for those who think tropes can be bad (which of course means they don't understand how storytelling techniques works). Sure, the series' creator is a professional writer, but that makes his series' view of tropes all the more unusual - unless he's deliberately pandering towards people who don't understand the first thing about using tropes.

11/02/2019 00:00:00

It\'s not accurate to say the creator thinks Tropes Are Bad. He has a video where he discusses the fact that Tropes Are Tools and that the execution is what\'s important. In most of his videos he\'ll also include some genuine suggestions on how to use a trope in a more interesting way.

It\'s pretty clear to me that he doesn\'t view any of the tropes he discusses as being inherently bad. Now, I think a fair criticism would be that the layers of sarcasm can potentially muddle the message but it\'s incorrect to say he thinks Tropes Are Bad.

11/02/2019 00:00:00

I wouldn\'t go so far as to say that he thinks all tropes are bad, but when discussing tropes, he invariably makes them come off as poorly thought out, cliched and lazy as possible, sarcastically mocking them in the process. If he does mention how to use a trope in a more interesting way, it\'s often as a lead-in to how many writers fail to use that trope well. The rather blatant and excessive sarcasm is the main reason why this series comes off as overly negative.

Perhaps the creator is a professional writer, but seeing as how his videos mainly consist of second-guessing other writers, rather than making something of his own, I have to wonder whether he ever tried putting his ideas to paper. As a writer myself, I know that it\'s not only easier to criticize other people\'s writing (rightly or wrongly than it is to write something yourself*, but it\'s also easier to come up with ideas rather than to make them into workable stories.

  • Speaking of which, one other thing I take issue with is how the creator says that you\'re supposed to listen to criticism without trying to defend your work. While flying off the handle and insulting the critic is a bad idea, I personally think it\'s fair to express disagreement with your critics in a polite manner, as some fanfic authors have done with me.


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