Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tvtropes is fun, but it really changes the experience of reading, especially of reading series long enough that I'm spending several days or even weeks putting the books down and coming back to them. The Codex Alera, for example. I've been ambivalent about the series for a while. On the one hand, it's by Jim Butcher and I love his Dresden Files series, but on the other hand it looks like yet another overwrought, cookie cutter, high fantasy series that drags on and on. I got an e-book reader in December and decided that the Codex Alera series would be good to start with. I'm glad I did, I'm liking it.

What does this have to do with tvtropes.org? Well, it's a wiki of character and narrative devices. Sometimes users coin clever names for common devices and it lists devices used in all kinds of media and stuff. More than once I've learned about something there and my interest has been piqued and I went out and read it, and it's fun to read about a book or TV show I like and see all the other stuff that has used its tricks before, and stuff like that.

The thing is, as I'm reading the Codex Alera books, there's almost nothing that I don't know will happen, partly because all kinds of spoilers are on tvtropes.org. They are printed in a white-on-white font so it's easy to not read them, but who can resist never reading any spoilers? I highlight just three words, they can't spoil that much, but the full name of a character doesn't have to be long to give away a lot, you know how it is...

I have no idea how much in these books I would be surprised by if I hadn't read any of tvtropes. Like I've said, it's usually pretty obvious whether the hero will get the girl, and the best friend almost definitely won't die in Act Two or whatever. If a main character is an orphan and a teen or younger, then of course his or her parents will have been important people, right? In which fictional work is that not the case?

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