Kristina Busse

The Role of Genre and Tropes in Writer Creativity and Reader Engagement

Writercon (August 2009)

In a NY Times article Charles McGrawth describes

What we look for in genre writing … is exactly what the critics sometimes complain about: the predictableness of a formula successfully executed. We know exactly what we’re going to get, and that’s a seductive part of the appeal. It’s why we can read genre books so quickly and in such quantity, and happily come back for more of the same by the very same author. Such books are reassuring in a way that some other novels are not. [source]
What McGrawth describes here is a positive look at what usually gets dismissed as repetition and clichés. It is precisely those repetitions and clichés that I want to consider in this talk as they relate to genre. I want to suggest that the tropes found in genre entertainment figure centrally in our comprehension and pleasure. Moreover, I want to argue that while all of comprehensible communication—and literature in particular—is a balance between difference and repetition, we have a tendency to focus on difference at the expense of repetition. I’d like to propose instead that we shift our focus to look at repetition more closely and how it is necessary and functions in fan works in particular.

[GENRE] Traditional genre theory tended to focus on categorization and taxonomy, labeling genres and assigning certain qualities and identifying characteristics to them. For us as audiences genre is important because it creates a form of reader/writer contract: by placing a text into a specific genre, we are led to expect certain events and all but promised others. If I buy a romance novel, I expect to read about a love story, hopefully an eventual happily ever after, and nothing too scary or gruesome. As such, genres not only promise the inclusion of certain aspects but also the exclusion of others. We don’t expect aliens to land in the middle of Casablanca just like we don’t expect dragons in a Napoleonic Navy narrative—well, unless we’re reading Naomi Novik.

Genre categories thus offer both directions in choosing a text and in helping us comprehend it as we’re reading. They offer a shorthand that gives us a brief summary of what to expect and a framework in which to situate what we then read. Reading texts (and I use here the widest form of text and reading, including visuals and multimedia) is an incredibly complex interplay between memory and expectations, between anticipating and retroactively rearranging information and events.

To use two (hopefully) shared examples: 10 Things I Hate About You and Silence of the Lambs. The first one is a romantic comedy, a latter day remake of Taming of the Shrew. But even without that knowledge, few of us would enter the movie theatre not expecting to get a happy teen couple near the end. In fact, given that this film follows rather than subverts genre tropes, we can pick out easily the romantic central pairing. Silence of the Lambs, on the other hand, is a thriller that by its very generic definition is meant to keep us in suspense and guessing. And yet we bring generic expectations to the text here all the same. When the central victim stands in the parking lot by herself, we can be pretty certain that she will be kidnapped—just like we can be pretty certain that she will be the one victim to survive.

So genre is important for readers and viewers for a variety of reasons:

Interestingly these days genre more often than not confounds rather than fulfills our expectations. The first time the only person who seems innocent in a Whodunit is in fact the killer, audiences may have been shocked with glee. By the 25th film using that plot, that seeming innocent has become our new generically expected murderer. In turn, creators aware of that can only surprise us by defying our expectation. In fact, many recent popular texts engage yet subvert genre tropes. IMDB’s top movies for the 90s includes Se7en, Fight Club, The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense, all of which are noteworthy for their success in defying viewer expectations—expectations that are created by genre categories and the assumptions associated with those categories.

Rather than thinking of genre as a fixed taxonomical system, more recent approaches to genre theory have complicated these theoretical classification models. Rather than ascribing one definitive generic marker to a given text, genres are understood to be “cultural categories that surpass the boundaries of media texts and operate within industry, audience, and cultural practices as well” (J. Mittell, A Cultural Approach to Television Genre Theory). In other words, genre as a category is created by the text but also by readers, authors, and the culture surrounding it. What that means is that interpretation of texts shift with context and with readers, that personal and cultural context as well as industry marketing and circulation may indeed shape generic expectations. For example, the 2006 Pan’s Labyrinth surprised many US viewers: the trailer and marketing had promised a supernatural fairy-like fantasy when the film, in fact, was an allegorical political tale set in Franco’s Spain. Genre expectations created in the film’s paratext, i.e., the material surrounding the actual film, offered genre clues that were not fulfilled in the text itself.

For our purposes as fans and fan scholars it is this definitional shift to a more collaborative understanding between creators and audiences that makes contemporary genre theory so exciting. After all, our audience responses, our conversations about the shows we love, have become part of the generic discourses that surround these shows and affect not just the terminologies and definitions but also interpretations and analyses. I’d like to pick a recent example (hopefully without spoiling it entirely): the recent short third season of Torchwood, a 5 day miniseries, was received quite ambivalently within fandom. While some viewers hailed it as Russell T. Davies’s best work to date, many Torchwood fans felt utterly disenchanted, depressed, and angry. One reading of the diverging reactions (and especially the negative responses of Torchwood fans) is to include the generic expectations viewers brought to the miniseries. Torchwood had been conceived and presented as a more adult, sexier, yes darker but also campier version of Doctor Who. In fact, both the premise and the execution looked a lot like fan service; I’ll limit myself to mentioning the James Masters’ guest starring role complete with Buffy shoutouts and long gay kissing scenes. So when the miniseries created a more serious traditional science fiction scenario, it effectively betrayed many of its fans’ expectations. The change to a darker tone delighted many (often more casual) Torchwood viewers and many sf fans while it shattered others who were emotionally invested in that particular aspect of the show they’d been watching the previous two seasons.

What the Torchwood example indicates most clearly, I think, is the relationship of expectation and response. We as viewers rarely look at a text without any previous information. We don’t all that often flip channels and start watching something with no knowledge of the story, the actors, the time or country of its making. And all these things function as indicators similar to and connected with genre. John Wayne showing up in a movie gives us certain impressions that are unlike those we get from the presence of Frank Sinatra or Katherine Hepburn. Likewise, setting offers quite explicit indicators that allow us to create certain expectations which may or may not be fulfilled. We process most of these clues unconsciously, but their centrality becomes very obvious when we don’t understand the cultural referents. I’m watching Buffy with my boys right now, and it’s fascinating to see what the older one can pick up that the younger one completely misses, simply because he hasn’t seen and read enough to properly understand certain generic indicators.

To illustrate genre and generic conventions in regard to fan works, I will show a vid that purposefully plays with genre conventions and our understanding of genre. ***At the Movies*** Ash’s “At the Movies” quite consciously plays with the way our shows play with genre. By picking particular scenes, and adding music and other features like decoloration, Ash succeeds in creating scenes that are clearly from SPN but show a variety of other genre markers. SPN already combines various genres: it’s a teen TV show about horror that at the same time focuses on strong familial themes. Yet in this vid, the genre boundaries become even more fluid. We can look at the vid as creating various AUs, in a way—so that rather than interpreting and analyzing the source text, as many vids do, it’s instead creating entirely new narratives.

We start off with The Good, the Bad and the Evil (Sergio Leone’s 1966 spaghetti western The Good the Bad and the Ugly ): close up shots, tense atmosphere, cowboy boots walking over dusty roads, the colt and, of course, the original soundtrack; Slice clearly evokes the aesthetic of slasher movies such as Saw with exceptional sadistic mental and physical torture. The movie poster shows Sam spread and bound and the film clips focus on dark abandoned houses and rooms and then on bloody knives and torture instruments. Screaming and running women and scenes of torture, including Sam being sliced open and the Saw theme music. The focus and close ups on the screaming faces, the horrified eyes is especially central.

This Gun For Hire (1942 film noir) casts Bela and the rumored famous crossroads deal-making Blues player Robert Johnson as the central characters. The black and white clips, the atmosphere, and the music all contribute to a particular noir aesthetic with Bela clearly depicted as the femme fatale. Bad Bros 2 ( Bad Boys 2) actually has a movie poster with similar placement and coloring as the movie it references and plenty of chases, gun battles, shattering glass, and explosions. The other films/genres referenced are Splendor of the Fall (Legends of the Fall) with its focus on the familial and the dramatic, showing extended conversations and dramatic arguments with the original soundtrack, The Winchesters Running Scared, a black&white screwball comedy—which may indeed be the most surprising aspect, laying bare the often hidden humor and slapstick that can be part of the show.

What the vid does is reference fairly stereotypical aspects of all these genres, thus allowing us to recognize them within only a few seconds and connecting these SPN excerpts to an often large tradition of film making. As such, the vid works from an approach to genre theory where every genre is sufficiently and comprehensively defined via one film—for example, Saw stands in for any and all sadistic horror slasher movies. The drawback to this approach is that by choosing one exemplary text which functions as a shortcut, these examples can only focus on the clear and legible aspects of the genre they have been chosen to illustrate, thus erasing or ignoring the more contentious and complicated components of many genre texts. In contrast to that, the following vid doesn’t apply clearly and easily named genre category so much as plays with various aspects of genre.

Like “At the Movies,” Obsessive24’s “Climbing up the Wall” recontextualizes particular scenes in order to redefine (or refocus) genre codes and to tell a particular story. In a way, of course, most vids refocus our attention—be it on characters, a pairing, or a particular genre aspect of a show. In “Climbing,” however, the vidder purposefully and consciously uses generic markers that both support and complicate the story she’s telling.

***Climbing Up the Wall*** The vid connects three different fandoms (SPN, Heroes, FF) and tightly aligns the relationship of the three sibling pairings that we love to ship: Sam/Dean, Peter/Nathan, River/Simon. It traces the move from love/care/protection of the older sibling for the younger to the point where this intense emotional bond becomes so tight and exclusionary that there is nothing and no one outside of it, the place where the love shifts from familial to erotic, the relationship from loving to sexual. The vidder chooses one facet of all of these source texts (namely, the familial bonds and the way they’re fucked up in complicated ways across all three shows) and uses clip choice, pacing, coloring and, of course, sound and lyrics to create and connect these three claustrophobic and oppressive storylines of sibling love gone wrong and both siblings’ inability to escape. The most pervasive images, that also open the vid, are those of broken mirrors, spattering blood, and separating bars, suggesting in turn identity concerns and doubling, violence and familial relations, and prohibition and imprisonment.

The vid visualizes a particular reading of the source text in which incest is not only possible but has become inevitable. In fact, the tragedy at the center of the vid is not the antithesis but the very result of the sibling love. In focusing on the negative repercussions for both the younger and the older sibling, both internally, between the two, and in respect to the rest of their families and the worlds at large, “Climbing” offers a subtle yet unrelenting commentary on fandom’s generic expectations with incest narratives. In all three cases, the siblings are often (and all too often unproblematically) linked romantically and the vid forces us to confront the realities of incest. It draws from a variety of generic horror tropes in order to expose that potentially abusive and in most cases tragic scenario that ends up harmful for all parties. And yet by using these particular well-liked pairings and using images and manip strategies more commonly connected to slash and romance, the vid is less invested in critiquing the source text and more in forcing us, fangirls who read and write and love these pairings, to acknowledge the dark underside of our desires. Ultimately, the vid argues that the tragedy is already part of the romantic relationships we tend to embrace in ways that we resist acknowledging exactly because it may lie dormant there.

“At the Movies,” uses well-defined genre categories and shows how SPN draws from and participates in these genres; “Climbing” in turn comments on the generic discourses surrounding these shows as it as it focuses on one particular aspect in these shows (and our readings of them) and uses the vid to foreground that facet. In a way, then, most vids do something not dissimilar: if we take a sci fi show or a procedural and pull out the slash pairing set to a romantic love song, we’ve effectively changed the genre and, more importantly, have suggested that part of the romance is already in the text. We do that by assuming shared knowledge of generic codes such as long looks between characters, song choices, soft lighting, etc. In a way then, we could argue that many transformative works—whether vids or fanfic—engage in genre recoding, especially into romantic tropes.

[TROPES] In narrative theory, we mean by tropes the recurring themes or imagery that allows a sort of shorthand and creates a frame of expectations. In a way, the trope can thus be seen as the value-neutral equivalent to cliché. If this talk is meant to do anything, it is to make us reconsider these negative connotations and make us see the usefulness and function of tropes and repetition.

I am interested in two things here. On the one hand my general focus is more theoretical and foundational, namely the value we as a culture have placed on authenticity, originality, and difference. At the same time, I want to point out how tropes get used, how repetition is central not just to the texts we use as our base material and building blocks, but also to the way fan writers engage with the material.

Tropes, of course, are not only central to our viewing the source texts but also in reading and writing fan stories. In fact, I want to argue that fan fiction is a field which epitomizes the kind of genre conventions and expectations I've been talking about, because it relies on a web of contextual information. In addition to shared narrative tropes, we use things like headers, recs lists, and delicious tags to create a contextual web of generic information. If we look at the way we ourselves often approach fan fiction, we notice that we have created a shorthand and almost formalization of how to categorize stories. Headers are the most obvious (and perhaps the most contested) site of such category negotiations: title, author, show, rating, pairing, genre, warnings, summary tend to be used in most fandoms with more or less consistency. Many of these categories are also used in central archives to search stories by type, though tagging has recently become more popular.

More interesting still is the way we ourselves choose to categorize fiction not our own on rec lists, etc. We can see how popular genre-based reading patterns are by the vast collection of thematic rec lists. Delicious, in fact, functions primarily via tags and shared categories including genre and trope. What is interesting in the examples here is the way we have general tropes that often come from our shared cultural context, but we also have fandom specific tropes, as the delicious genre categories for Merlin example shows. Having specific names and abbreviations (whether mpreg or AMTDI) further codifies these tropes. And, in turn, such generic tropes are used to create new fic in challenges.

Giandujakiss’s multifandom vid “Hourglass” plays with a trope that is clearly popular in the media as well as in our fannish responses. ***Hourglass*** The vid draws from multiple TV shows (many of which spawned large fandoms; some of which we might not even know* f we weren’t in fandom, like the sadly short-lived Blood Ties). The film, of course, has become so popular that Groundhog Day has become a metaphor for any type of time loop scenario. Groundhog Day/Time Loops are a common device in literary and filmic texts, esp. science fiction. Beyond being a popular trope that is used in the shows as well as in our stories, the vid also foregrounds the very content of the trope. Time loops are about repetition but repetition with a difference. Every morning the character wakes up to exactly the same scenario, but the narrative progresses through the subtle changes and shifts, both in the protagonist’s perception and understanding as well as in their changing actions.

I’d like to argue that repetition is a really central aspect of fannish experience. On the simplest level, part of fannish engagement with a text is repeated viewing. We re-watch our favorite show to get to all the nuances and subtleties, but we also re-watch simply because we enjoy the repetition, like to spend time with our favorite characters. On a more crucial level, fan works are forms of repetition. In our interpretive and analytic encounters, we often return to the scenes of the shows, repeat certain moments and events. We always return to the characters even as we reshape them. Fan fiction, then, is repetition in the way the same crucial moment in the text can be revisited again and again, every new story pleasurable both in the way it repeats what we already know and changes it. Just like genre, then, fan fiction offers a framework of repetition and difference that relies heavily on the former as it plays with the latter.

If we recall my earlier list of how genre functions for viewers, all of these aspects fit the way we engage with fan works: knowing the source text and other text and conversations circulating in fandom allows readers to understand and situate new stories, to anticipate events and characterizations and enjoy both the familiarity of these events coming to pass or the surprise of expectations being subverted. Moreover, using Mittell’s genre definition that focuses on a negotiation of ideas and definitions among industry, audiences, and cultural practices is all the more appropriate within a community where readers are writers and writers are readers and the cultural constraints are created within and by the community itself.

I’ve made this long excursion through genre and tropes, not only because they are used in the shows we tend to be fannish about and because we employ them in our works, but also because the very structure of fan creation mirrors the cultural logic of genre tropes. In other words, if genre tropes shape cultural productions, fandom and its fan creations are an almost exemplary case study where production, dissemination, and reception is shared and negotiated via tropes and reshapes our approaches to genres in turn. Thus, when “Hourglass” picks the trope most characterized by repetition with a difference, it illustrates the central function of not only this trope but all generic tropes for fan creation. I want to offer a couple of close readings of fiction to show the role of narrative tropes in particular.

It’s hard to closely analyze fiction in a presentation, but I want to try with a story that is exemplary for what I want to argue. I want to start with a brief excerpt. In James Walkswithwind’s “The Many Faces of Radek Zelenka,” Stargate Atlantis’s physicist Radek Zelenka accidentally ends up in an alternate reality after a technological mishap. Parallel universes being what they are, in this story a number of Radeks have ended up in the wrong universe.

"OK, it's obviously the same technology as the quantum mirror," Dr. McKay said, several times over in large, nearly identical labs. "All we have to do. . .Is dial the right universe and send Radek home." "How do we know what's the right universe?" Sometimes Weir asked, sometimes Sheppard asked. … Rodney shrugged. "We might have to just ask. All the universes differ, some slightly, some by a greater degree. …." … Each Radek moved forward and began looking over each group. One moved quickly to stand beside the pregnant Teyla. Another very obviously female Radek walked over to the group with the female Rodney. Another spotted the only John Sheppard wearing a mustache -- to the obvious amusement of several other John Sheppards -- and went to stand there. … Finally there were only two left. They looked back and forth between the two remaining unclaimed universes. Through gestures and clearly mouthed questions, they determined that there was no partner waiting, to decide who belonged where. The Rodneys grabbed clipboards and began writing -- they each held up a brief summary of life so far for the Atlantis team. The summaries were identical in content. … There was no discernible difference, and by this time the other groups were starting to hold up signs, offering suggestions. … Finally one Radek got a thoughtful look on his face. He … stood there, holding [a] glass of water until he was sure he had everyone's attention. Then he threw it on himself and turned into a penguin. One of the other Rodney's grabbed a beaker and splashed himself, and there was another penguin. Everyone else stared, until one Rodney wrote the note they were all thinking. "You thought that was *universal*?" (http://gila.faking-sanity.net)

I especially like this story because it not only plays with the classic science fiction AU trope, it does so by referencing actual stories and story tropes within the Stargate Atlantis fandom. In fact, the alternate universes which comprise the story might as well be a collection of the many universes in which fans have placed their various stories. More specifically, the alternate universes this story references actually include a variety of the author’s own stories. Thus, in a way, this story creates a fictional story space that encompasses all of the writer’s stories within it.

Moreover, the conclusion is particularly funny within a fan community that has all but appropriated penguins as alternate versions of the characters. Spawned by one story, several other writers picked up the idea, which quickly became a fandom-wide trope, probably in varying parts encouraged by the fact that the series began in Antarctica, the success of several penguin films, and the recurring mention of same-sex penguin couple in debates on homosexuality at the time. Thus, including a penguinverse acknowledges the actual stories that transform SGA characters into penguins and the general discourse surrounding penguins in the fandom.

In a way, this story is a metonymic representation of various tropes within the fandom. It relies on readers’ abilities to recognize these references; this adds another layer of meaning onto the stories themselves at the same time as it comments on the state of the fandom at the moment the stories were written. However, even if unfamiliar with the SGA verse, a well versed fan fiction reader thus may easily assume that penguin stories must have been “a thing” when reading James’s story, for example. Employing multiverse narratives or multiple points of view mirrors the way fans actually experience fandom most of the time, reading stories and analyses and commentary side by side, often on the same page when using LJ’s flist aggregate. This complementary if not mutually contradictory account, created collectively and often collaboratively, is the fannish archive par excellence, merely mimicked in these stories.

[REPETITION AND DIFFERENCE] Throughout this talk I have spoken of repetition as a valuable aspect of creating narrative, which of course on some level goes against everything we as writers are told. As a community, when we discuss writing, we tend to emphasize the new as we celebrate originality and difference. And yet, I hope to argue through my focus on tropes and genre that there is indeed value in repetition and that it is that very repetition that drives much of our pleasure in reading and writing fan fiction, in being part of media fandom.

Repetition often is regarded as bad and inferior (not unlike the way fan writers again and again are challenged to do “real” writing, thus belittling their passionate fannish encounters) and I sometimes think we can singlehandedly lay the blame for that at the feet of William Wordsworth. Wordsworth is the epitome of a particular approach to writing which we often simplistically shorthand as Romantic, a particular aesthetic approach often connected to the concepts of the true artist as original genius. It thus represents a specific aesthetic theory that has remained influential upon many widespread understandings of creativity. Thinkers of modernity in particular often privileged originality and artistic genius as they laid the groundwork for a value system that still affects the landscape of contemporary popular culture. Accordingly, Wordsworth proclaims the originality of the individual author: “Every Author, as far as he is great and at the same time original, has had the task of creating the taste by which he is to be enjoyed” ("Supplementary to the Preface” 1815).

In actuality, of course, literary theory is in constant flux between these two extreme positions—neither of which by itself is ultimately useful. Difference and repetition are both required to create. Rather than trying to separate out one from the other, they’re mutually interdependent: one can only be understood and perceived in relation to the other, and both are always necessary.

To make the point a bit clearer: language can only ever be meaningful if it is recognizable, i.e., if it is repeated. That is true on the level of the letter, the word, and the sentence but it is true even on the level of narrative itself. Tropes function only because readers understand what writers are saying. We can in fact understand genre categories as a contract between the reader and the writer insofar as genre conventions allow readers to establish certain expectations in which to read and understand a narrative. Just like pure difference on the linguistic level would resemble speaking in tongues, a story that does not engage any recognizable narrative (either by following—or even by defying—a genre) would create a story that is very difficult to parse for the reader, since all familiar and recognizable narrative conventions are removed.

Strangely enough, when talking about quality, however, much fan discourse resorts to rhetoric more familiar to high modernism than the postmodern environment of which fandom is a part. Stories get praised for their originality and use of familiar tropes is more often dismissed. Just as an example, here’s the headline for one of the essays on a Harry Potter archive, advising writers to become better: “This essay includes some helpful tips for avoiding fandom clichés and keeping your story fresh. Original plots and ideas are held on high here at MuggleNet Fan Fiction, so browsing this essay is an especially good idea” (fanfiction.mugglenet.com). The valorization of originality, of the role of inspiration and muses pervades fannish discourses on writing even as the practice often looks quite different, with a focus on interaction and collaboration and a heavy reliance on tropes and formalized story telling.

To see that difference, we have to look not at fans theorizing their aesthetics but at their actions. Some of the liveliest communities generating enormous amounts of stories tend to be shared universes; generic stories are often collected and requested on search communities; and some of the most beloved stories (if we go by delicious.com link patterns and comments on the stories) are highly generic and quite predictable. I’d argue that their appeal is not in spite of but because of that predictability. Some of the most popular types of stories include Harlequin challenges and movie fusions, where the show characters play out the plot of a movie. The appeal of such stories depends on how well they balance the two intertextual sources, but clearly one of the central appeals here is indeed the familiarity of knowing the film or the Harlequin trope and enjoying both the comfort of sameness and the small noticeable moments of difference.

And again, I’m neither suggesting that all fan fiction functions that way nor that all readers read in such ways. But I want to suggest that there’s a certain split between what we see people read and enjoy and the more public discourses on what makes “good” writing, with the former more heavily on the side of repetition and the latter more heavily on the side of difference. Affect and pleasure are a result of repetition and the familiarity it creates. My interest continues to be the individual emotional responses (especially to particular tropes and types of narratives) and the way these resonate and are shared within fan communities. In all of these cases, however, it is clear that reception and the reader’s responses are central as opposed to attempts to establish transcending objective modes of establishing evaluative criteria.

Fan writers and artists can be understood in an aesthetic framework of challenging themselves to create within firmly established boundaries, reworking and reshaping popular texts, emphasizing and foregrounding their intertextuality. So repetition can serve a variety of functions that may indeed be necessary for creative works and their reception:

Fanfic, then, is forever caught between the Scylla of familiarity and the Charybdis of originality. At its heart is a love for familiar tropes coupled with a simultaneous desire to find new ways to tell these same old stories. Change too much, and the story stops being recognizable as fan fiction; change too little, and it becomes a mere retelling. So unlike most other writing, in which originality per se may not be mandatory but can be a good thing, fanfic is predicated on a certain need/desire to return to familiar ground, to (re)cover territory where we've already been. At the same time, this repetition with a difference also opens up multiple potentialities of meaning and plot in ways that stories that understand themselves as original do not.

I don’t want to suggest that we replace the value placed on difference with one that emphasizes sameness, but to rather acknowledge and admit (in theory and possibly practice) that one cannot exist without the other, and that it might behoove us to occasionally shift from studying and analyzing one to looking at the values of the other. In the end, then, it’s never clear where repetition ends and difference begins. What I do know is that in a genre such as fan fiction and fan vids, where we play with and thrive on generic tropes and their meaningful repetition, we should remain aware of how important tropes and repetition are—both to the sources we use and to our own work.

I want to finish with another vid, this one mostly for fun (though considering the Children of Earth miniseries, we might want to think about a more serious reading of the vid in terms of queerness, reproductive ideology, and immortality). I know every one of us can list dozens if not hundreds of examples for any trope imaginable. Sometimes the use is purposeful as in the most recent cliché bingo. Other times authors simply resort to familiar tropes that they know from other sources (scifi plots, romance tropes) or that they’ve grown to love within fandom or this particular fandom. So with this vid by Greensilver and Fan Eunice, I want to focus on one of the most popular if derided tropes in fan fiction: mpreg. Jack’s keeping his baby! Thank you! ***Papa Don’t Preach***