As someone who is an avid consumer of all things related to fiction–novels, movies, and television shows–I love to deconstruct the process of storytelling and analyze how stories are told. If you have a soft spot in your heart for fiction, then you probably know what I mean.
Across all forms of fictional media, there are certain similarities and archetypes that pop up time and time again. The damsel in distress. The flawed anti-hero. The wise old mentor. The pervasive evil mob of doom. And in my study of fiction, I’ve come across a wonderful site that documents all of the instances of these storytelling tropes.
The website? TvTropes.
What is Tv Tropes?
According to Know Your Meme:
TvTropes is a wiki devoted to the documentation of “tropes”, which are tools of the trade for storytelling in movies, television shows, literature, and other forms of media. These conventions and devices are used in all forms of fiction, and should not be confused with clichés.
For examples of tropes, click on the links that are in the introduction to this article. You’ll find the trope pages for the Distressed Damsel, the Anti-Hero, the Obi-Wan, and the Nebulous Evil Organization.
Every piece of fiction uses tropes. It’s only when a trope becomes overused and predictable that it becomes a cliché. TvTropes tracks and defines the thousands of tropes used in fiction through their Wiki-type website community.
But the thing that elevates TvTropes above just a simple compendium is that it has earned for itself a reputation for being a massive timesink. Browse at your own peril.
Using DroidTropes on Android
Unfortunately, it seems that DroidTropes has disappeared from the Android Market (now called Google Play). However, you can still install it onto your Android device through third-party app stores for free.
As you can see from the screenshot, the interface for DroidTropes is extremely simple. You’ve got six choices:
- Favourites: As you browse the various tropes, you can add some of them to your Favourites list so you can view them again later.
- Recent: A list of tropes that you’ve recently viewed, in case you accidentally close out of one or need to return to one that you haven’t saved.
- To Read: Keep reading to find out what this feature does and why it’s so great.
- Random: View a random trope. As there are thousands and thousands of tropes on the site, there’s a 99% chance that you’ll land on a trope that you’ve never seen before.
- Search: Use this to search for a particular trope. Simple.
- Exit: When you’ve been browsing TvTropes for 6 hours and realize that you need to make dinner for your family, this is the button you want to click.
Technically, you don’t even need DroidTropes to browse TvTropes on your phone. You can do it straight from a normal browser, like Dolphin. However, it’s the convenience factor that keeps this app on my phone.
Because DroidTropes is designed specifically for the TvTropes website, it formats everything so that it fits right into the device. Plus, when you click the links, you can choose to add pages to your “To Read” list.
Best Feature: “To Read” List
My latest hobby–at least when it comes to DroidTropes–is to browse through a single trope, and as I’m browsing, every time I encounter an interesting-sounding trope I’ll add it to my “To Read” list. When I’m done with the trope, I’ll go to the next trope on my “To Read” list and repeat.
It should be clear that my “To Read” list is ever growing and nearly inexhaustible.
Adding to your “To Read” list is sort of like opening a new tab in a browser for later browsing. And of course, the DroidTropes “To Read” list will save across multiple sessions. Very good for building up a giant list of tropes that you can read through in one go.
By the way, to add a trope to your “To Read” list, just long-press on a trope link and you’ll see a pop-up menu. Easy.
I love this app. It gets me through long, boring periods where I have nothing else to do. I don’t like browsing the Internet on my phone, but DroidTropes makes it easy to read through the TvTropes site. So if you want TvTropes on-the-go, then you should definitely get this app.