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The Periodic Table of Storytelling
The Periodic Table of Storytelling, a non-exhaustive list of tropes compiled by James Harris from examples on the TV Tropes website.

Tropes are recurring themes, motifs, or devices that are commonly used in storytelling to convey a particular idea or create a certain effect. They can be literary, visual, or aural, and they can be used intentionally or unintentionally. Tropes can be an effective tool for creating a sense of familiarity or expectation for the audience, but they can also be overused or misused, resulting in clichéd or unoriginal storytelling.

Here are some examples of good and bad uses of tropes:

Good Use of Tropes:

Bad Use of Tropes:

Tropes can enhance writing and storytelling when used effectively. They can help establish a sense of familiarity or expectation for the audience, which can be useful in building a connection between the audience and the story. Additionally, tropes can be used to subvert expectations or to add layers of meaning to a story.

Here are some common tropes:

Every story or narrative genre contains certain cliches, certain archetypal themes that occur time and again and whose presence defines a genre.

If, to give a ridiculous caricature of an example, a story features an alcoholic ex-detective renting a grungy office, whose hired by a glamorous blonde in furs and high heels to check on the wealthy husband she has a loveless relationship with, you know that's a Crime Noir story.

In writing science fiction (or science fantasy, or whatever the case may be), certain tropes are used, and again, the types of tropes determine the type of science fiction (space opera, time travel, cyberpunk, steampunk, parallel worlds, post-apocalyptic, etc). In general, tropes have to be of a technological or pretend-technological nature for a story to qualify as science fiction rather than fantasy. If for example, there are spaceships, it's science fiction. Dragons, it's fantasy (however it is sometimes possible to have both and still be science fiction)

The following is a partial and highly biased and incomplete list of tropes that feature that are commonly found in space opera type science fiction. See the Periodic Table of Tropes for more

When using tropes, it is important to be aware of their potential implications and to use them intentionally and thoughtfully. Additionally, it is important to avoid overusing or relying too heavily on tropes, as this can result in unoriginal or predictable storytelling.


TV Tropes - a vast and highly addictive website, featuring just about every trope known to man, and then some.

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