Man Bites Dog Humour

‘Man Bites Dog’ describes inversion humour. I’ve also seen ‘hat on a dog’ describing the same category of joke, in which the audience laughs because the usual way of things is back to front. MAN BITES DOG IN JOURNALISM Journalists also use ‘Man Bites Dog’ to describe stories that are popular because they intrigue via……

How To Describe A Woman In Fiction

How to describe woman characters in fiction? There must be a handbook somewhere. The following tropes are so common they can be found throughout literature, including in stories for children. On the other hand, writers of children’s literature are also the most likely to invert established tropes. 

Humour Study: Overly Literal Characters

Humorous stories about characters who find themselves in strife after taking instructions too literally are old stock comedy fodder. One of the earliest recorded in Europe is the fairytale Clever Hans — an ironic title, because Hans is a fool. Hans does something stupid, his mother tells him to do it differently next time. But……

The Misplaced Importance Of Bloodline In Fiction

A ‘chosen one’ story stars a main character who is basically ordinary, but because of their bloodline, they are destined for great things. Harry Potter is the iconic example of a contemporary chosen one story. Harry Potter comes after a long tradition. At TV Tropes you’ll find that Chosen One stories are so popular there……

Hair In Art and Storytelling

Merida from Brave

It’s stating the obvious to point out that, in children’s fiction, a character’s hair maps onto personality. But in continuing to use hair-personality shortcuts, are writers perpetuating stereotypes? Canadian teen actor Sophie Nélisse plays the title role, a young girl in foster care who we know is not terribly well-off emotionally because her hair is……

Child Moves House Trope In Children’s Fiction

Edna Eicke New Yorker July 29th, 1950

Child moves house and starts at new school. This trope is hard to write well because it has been done so many times before. But it’s very useful, because many children’s stories are about friendship, and all stories about friendship must start from a point of loneliness. Everyone is lonely when they move to a……

Secrets, Liars and Lies In Storytelling

Charles Haigh Wood - Fair Deceivers

Liars are everywhere in stories. Stories themselves can be considered giant lies (which tell a deeper truth). The trope of the mask is a part of all this. Certain genres demand a ‘mask’, or, lying. That’s because entire genres are about finding out the truth: Detective Crime is all about deciding whose version of a story……