Last night, I took a baby story idea to critique group and had them brainstorm with me the way we did for Giles when we were guests on the Roundtable Podcast. I walked away thinking "wow, I'm such a trope-y writer!" In this rough synopsis, I had the Chosen One trope, the Surprise Evil Mentor trope, the Storming Out in Anger trope, and about five or six more that got pointed out over the evening. Needless to say, I wasn't exactly thrilled that I had let myself fall into all those writing traps.
But after some time to think, I realized that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Sure, I don't want the final story to be quite so chock full of over-used tropes. But letting myself use them as a building block, a foundation, let me get a basic, malleable outline on the page. Knowing as I was typing that this story was all sorts of cliche and terrible allowed me to keep writing and planning instead of worrying about making everything perfect. And that's important, especially if you're any shade of perfectionist.
I've had moment when I'm halfway through a manuscript and realize that I've hit the "oh, goodness, everything is tropes" moment. That's when I really start to hate my work. A lot. I'm glad that I took a friend's advice and tried actually planning something for once--maybe I'll be able to avoid actually using most of those tired old plot devices that are in the current synopsis.
But if the tropes are what allow you to get an outline or a draft down, use 'em as much as you need! Just don't be afraid to go back and change them up, see what happens if you push your story in a different direction (and don't be surprised when you realize you need to). The most important thing is to keep writing, and if that means falling back on a Chosen One now and then--well, there are definitely worse things.
Emily is attempting to evolve from pantser to planster (you know, a mix between planning and pantsing) and subsequently shaking up her writing routine. Mostly, she just wants an excuse to write on fancy paper with pretty pens.