By Gayle Carline
Trope: A common or overused theme or device (Merriam-Webster).
On Facebook, I have many more friends than in real life. (I suspect this is because they only have to put up with me in small doses and can hide me when they've had enough.) I've ended up with a lot of friends that were suggested to me, so I can't really tell you how we met. All I can tell you is, as a writer who wants to sell books, I hesitate to refuse anyone my FB-friendship.
I've only unfriended one person, a gentleman from Ghana who was lovely, but needy. Every time I checked into Facebook, he wanted to chat with me (via Instant Message). Nothing inappropriate, but it certainly felt like I was being stalked. Was he awake 24/7, waiting for my little green ball to indicate I was online? Of course, since I've unfriended him, I've discovered that when the Mayan calendar runs out and the Earth switches position in the Milky Way and all the poles reverse and geological havoc ensues, the only safe place to be will be Ghana. Damn.
But I digress.
One of the friends I did meet on Facebook is a man named Jim Thomsen from Washington State, who is currently a freelance editor and really funny. If you can find him, tell him I sent you. Unless you're a looney toon. Then, please don't even try to find me.
Lately he's been assembling tropes that weary him. One is the cops/lawyers/private detectives who are into old blues/country/jazz music and drive ancient, battered pickup trucks. Another is the sad-sack middle-aged male who is misunderstood by everyone except the hot, soulful, wounded woman in her twenties, who lures him out on a reckless, self-destructive adventure that refuels his narcissistic rejuvenation.
I concur. The hooker with the heart of gold, the incredibly smart, incredibly strong, incredibly damaged action hero, and even the stereotype of trying to turn a stereotype on its ear (let's make the blonde chick smart), are all beginning to bore me. Or maybe they're not beginning, they've already succeeded.
Here's the thing about tropes: How long does it take for one to go away? If you stop creating hookers with hearts of gold, at what point does that stop being a cliche?
What tropes would you like to put a stake through? And do they have a statute of limitations?