Results of the “Trope Outline”

If you read my Tropes Outline post, you know that I’ve been working on an outline that follows the main tropes of my story. There was a bit of delay in my posting about the results of it, mostly because Camp NaNoWriMo hit and now I’m focused on writing the thing the outline is for vs. the outline itself.

And now I’ve finished writing the thing I wrote the outline for. I don’t really think I got the lesson that was supposed to come out of writing the outline… because I’m looking at the tropes I put to the outline and they don’t seem to be showing up overwhelmingly in the story.

Okay, let me back up.

Writing this thing, I basically did this:

Here’s a scene. What trope best fits it? * research research TV tropes research* Ah, that seems best. Plunk, there it is, right in there. I did it for every major scene, for each character, and occasionally two character’s interactions if they were important to the story.

It’s all very nifty looking and cool at the end. But I didn’t necessarily use it while writing it.

And, as my partner pointed out when he asked some questions, I also didn’t do a before and after trope: or where I started and where I want it to end.

Would that have helped? I don’t know. I also don’t have much practice following an outline (versus having the story flow out in my head and then I write it down just for reference if I can’t remember what happens next), so I probably didn’t utilize the thing as much as I should have.

Writing the outline did help me focus, but I did my usual stunt of getting really excited about writing and mostly forgetting I had an outline and just going with it.

On the other hand, this is just a first draft. And I deliberately let myself go and pushed away my inner editor in an attempt to get it all out. I’m wondering if the trope outline may be more helpful in the editing phase, when I really start honing down what this thing I’ve created is actually doing.

Also, on a different subject, the novella is 2k more than the word count limit for the contest I’d like to enter. So I need to be cuttin’ some words… or enter it in an alternate magazine I’ve found. Or do both. (Which I actually think isn’t nice so I probably won’t do that).

If nothing else, this experiment is making me think about things in different ways. My brain is already trying to apply this exercise to my 117k manuscript. Even though it’s technically completed, I think it would be really good for me to delve into the core themes from this perspective. If nothing else, for another hone down session.

Editing is a never-ending process anyway, and who knows — maybe I’ll see an element I didn’t even realize, that I can use in my query. Highlighting common tropes can point out similar books (or movies) that you can use for queries (to do the X meets Y kind of query). Or, it can at least show another way to quickly sum up your manuscript, highlighting the common thread and the twist you’ve added that makes it new and refreshing (and thus efficiently and elegantly showing why it is desirable).

So what do you think? Have you had any adventures with tropes recently? Or a writing experiment in general?

About R. K. Brainerd

I've been writing since my pre-teens, mostly in the realm of fantasy and sci-fi. Taking interesting concepts and dropping complex characters into fantastical worlds is my jam. I also raise dairy goats and herd cats, the evidence of which can be found on my Instagram. Welcome to the adventure. View all posts by R. K. Brainerd

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