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Tropes and Novum


Tropes are standard norms of a genre, such as characters, plots, themes and ideas that regularly occur within a specific genre, making it feel familiar.

A trope is simply a figure of speech through which writers intend to express meanings of words differently than their literal meanings.

In other words, it is a metaphorical or figurative use of words in which writers shift from the literal meanings of words to their non-literal meanings.

A trope refers to anything that gets used often enough to be recognised:

  • A child running around with a cape – superhero

  • A man with a long white beard and pointy hat – a wizard

  • Men dressed in black – bad guys


In science fiction and fantasy writing the novum refers to the thing you’ve introduced. Some element of the story that is not possible in our own current world. In sci-fi the novum is often the new technology introduced, while in fantasy the novum is usually some type of magic or extraordinary element.

A novum can be a person, place, power, object, magic system, or part of the environment. It is any inexplicable thing you wish your reader to believe in.

Common tropes include:

  • Magical powers and users

  • Magical objects and items

  • Mythical creatures

  • Mythical races

  • Portals to magical realms

  • Magical environments

A novum doesn’t have to be new. If it doesn’t happen in this world, but does in your fantasy world, it’s a novum.


  • What can the novum do?

  • What are its limits – what can’t it do?

Rules of the novum:

  • Know its limitations, restrictions, and what is considered the norm for that novum. This helps to avoid contradicting yourself, and maintain the “suspension of disbelief” for the reader. (You want the reader to believe in your novum).

  • Stick to the rules of the novum you create. You make those rules, but keep to them, don’t change them.

  • Think about the readers' questions – if you want your reader to believe in your magic and talking animals, you have to demonstrate a place in a world where this could logically exist.

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These links give examples of the written assessments that I've completed. I shall update this post and add further links. htt

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