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One criticism frequently leveled at the TV Tropes Wiki (and by extension applying to All The Tropes) is that what tropers do is nothing more than cataloguing -- breaking apart fiction into its component pieces and tallying them up. An apt analogy would be attempting to understand a pocket watch by taking it apart, piling all the parts that resemble each other together and sorting the gears by size. The argument is made that while these components might be identified and understood, it is at the expense of the larger structure. A story, regardless of its medium, is greater than the sum of its parts, and by looking only at those parts in relative isolation one misses the synergy that forms when they are combined by a skilled creator.

There is some truth to this criticism. Troping has, since the TV Tropes Wiki was first created in the early 2000s, focused almost exclusively on the "atoms" of storytelling while ignoring its "molecules" and other larger composite elements. This area of All The Tropes seeks to correct that. Here we will explore the means by which tropes are assembled into stories, and in the process become something more than just tropes.

The first thing that must be understood is that in the process of creating a story -- a good story, at least -- a trope such as The Hero or Celebrity Lie is, by itself, not a complete element. It is a beginning -- a bare-bones outline that is little more than a placeholder. A hack writer might take this placeholder, drop it into his story as-is, and think his work with it is done, but that's one of the things that makes him a hack. The good storyteller starts with a trope and then customizes it -- expanding, refining, even subverting it -- whatever is required by his vision and his story. The end result will always be an example in some way of the trope, but is never exactly and only the trope. The Hero is not Luke Skywalker, but Luke is recognizably The Hero.

(It may help some of our readers to think of this in terms of object-oriented programming. A trope, ultimately, is similar to an ancestor class or an interface. It is not a fully-functional story component by itself, only the framework on which one may be built. The skilled writer takes a trope and extends it, adding required elements and occasionally overriding features of the original to customize its function to the needs of the story he's creating. The result inherits most or all of the properties of the ancestor trope -- and is recognizably that trope underneath everything -- but is uniquely configured and implemented for the task at hand.)

Among other things, it is this crafting of unique instances of tropes that helps distinguish the successful storyteller from the hack. This section of the wiki is intended to explore the means by which this crafting is managed, and beyond that, how these "customized" tropes are combined into greater wholes. Some of the pages included here will be familiar, having already existed at All The Tropes and its predecessor -- in some cases for upwards of a decade as of this writing. Others will be new. This section will at times resemble a writer's guide, if only because the very explanations of the processes involved in successful storytelling are useful guides to a writer seeking to improve his work. As with everything else on the wiki, the goal is both to entertain and to inform.

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