When we see the words “trope” or “cliche”, our first response is usually to point and scream.
I do point and scream at a lot of others things besides cliches and tropes. Usually those things are lettuce, responsibilities, or the idea that life without chocolate is liveable. BECAUSE IT’S NOT LIVEABLE. I have so so many issues with being told chocolate is not a staple to the human life. It is literally the only thing keeping this planet (and me) together.
Also this post is actually about tropes, not chocolate. Unless you want to talk about chocolate chips in cookies in which case, I will join that conversation.
Today I’m listing some popular tropes and deciding if I like vs hate them!
The inspiration for this post comes from an instagram challenge I’m doing called #BNDTPNov17! It’s hosted by wonderful bloggers including @books.bags.burgers and @journey_thru_pages! So definitely go check out their hashtag. Anyway their November theme was TROPES! And I wanted to spin it into a post. I’m also adding in other tropes I’ve thought up because why not.
Not all tropes are bad! It’s how they’re executed that makes all the difference. A well-written trope can be the absolutely greatest thing, just like chocolate.
Wow I need to move on from that.
1. LOVE TRIANGLE (OR SQUARE OR PENTAGON OR DODECAHEDRON)
✓ I actually don’t mind a well-written triangle! Usually I loathe their guts out when a protagonist is all “oh oh who should I choose” and is wishy washy and IRRITATING. But when the triangle exists because of complexities and ALL three characters are developed?!? It’s interesting!!
Basically: no manipulation and leading people on. If it doesn’t go into that then we can work with this.
2. CHOSEN ONE
I’m reeeeally tired of Chosen Ones. I love powerful wild kids, but I don’t like it when the FATE OF THE WORLD RESTS ON THEIR GOOD SHOULDERS and blah blah etc. It’s very boring for all of us. Only you have the cure for the disease! Only you have the key to the world! Ahhh. No.
So yes I still love A Darker Shade of Magic and Harry Potter but…I’m really tired of Chosen Ones. ✗
3. ALL POWERFUL CHARACTER
UGH YES I LOVE IT. ✓ GIVE IT TO ME ALL THE TIMES. This is a favourite of mine to write too. I particularly like all-powerful characters who TERRIBLY underuse their powers or are just huge dorks about it: see Percy Jackson series.
4. FRIENDS TO LOVERS
Again! A solid YES.✓ Because there’s always such depth around this and you honestly close the book and feel like it’ll last, right?! You know the romance is built on two people actually KNOWING EACH OTHER.
Plus there’s less of the: “I would take a bullet for you, my love!!!”
And more of: “If you don’t get out of the way of the bullet, I will slap you because I love you, stupid adorable idiot.”
5. ENEMIES TO LOVERS
Haha hah HAHAHA…yes.✓ The chemistry is real. If two characters start fighting, well you just accidentally generally start shipping them. I didn’t make the rule.
✗ NO to when two characters instantly believe they are all that’s in the world. It is only the most lazy writing.
✓ YES to when one character falls in love instantly but has to still convince the other person. Because this is super cute, still includes character development, and isn’t irritating as sticking toothpicks in your eye.
7. ABSENT & DEAD PARENTS
This one is haaaaard. Because I do understand it’s easier to have a teen making terrible decisions and BREAKING THE WORLD by themselves. Adults can ruin a plot by being sensible. Sheesh, no one wants to get a full night’s rest, Mum, when we could be overtired and making bad decisions.
However good wholesome families and parents that care about their kids?! Be still my beating heart.
I say ✗ NO because I’m tired of it.
But it’s a soft no. There are many many books I love with absent parents.
8. DAMSEL IN DISTRESS
✗ NO! ALL THE NO’S. AT LEAST 20 NO’S!! Look, girls are extremely capable!! We are not weeping cabbages!! Of course girls can ask for help, but enoughhhhhh of books where the girl CAN’T DO ANYTHING unless a boy is there to hold her hand.
9. TYRANNICAL GOVERNMENT
I do need to climb onto a very small box (because I am very small) and clear my throat and announce gravely that dystopian did get me into reading YA. I think I must’ve ate 8001 dystopians in a very short space of time and therefore forever killed the genre to me.
So ✗ NO. I’m so tired of them you could literally say “tyrannical government” and I would say “please go talk about America somewhere else.” *
* HAHAHA JUST KIDDING…you’re not a President Snow level yet but holy heck, what are you doing, America.
10. LOVE CURES ALL
✗ Oh wow this is literally the W O R S T. If this trope got burned off the face of the sun, the world would be a better place. In fact, I’m even going to list for you whyyyy this trope is so problematic:
- First of all, the people getting “cured” don’t need to be cured! I am very much against cure culture. You need help and support but you can have a mental illness + a happy and fulfilled life.
- Love and support CAN save your life, in the sense that being cared for and helped is so uplifting when you’re struggling…but it won’t solve the problem. It can help you get through a problem, but books usually skip to the: “OMIGOSH NOW YOU’RE BETTER BECAUSE HERE IS A BOY!!”
- Teenage boys can’t cure anything!! They are annoying and smell and are still gathering their braincells because they are not born with them!! I have a brother!! I can attest!! IT’S JUST NOT EVEN REALISTIC.
- If something is so easily “fixed” it diminishes the problem. Putting this into books is literally telling teens all over the world who have depression that they can “get over it” if only they tried a bit harder.
- Also it’s putting like ALL this pressure on your crush/partner/boy/girlfriend and that’s SO unfair to them. They are people with needs too.
11. MENTAL ILLNESS MELTDOWNS AS THE FINALE DESTRUCTION.
✗ Ugh the levels of problematic here would rival the Eiffel Tower in height. This happens so much and while it can be done right, it’s usually done so wrong.
Look if the book is about someone’s spiral downwards —> it makes sense to have the climax have something to do with their disability or mental illness reaching peak.
HOWEVER. If the character is a secondary character or their mental illness isn’t the crux of the book?!?? DO NOT MAKE THEM INTO DRAMA SCENE FOR YOU TO LOOK AT. It is not a sideshow! This is not a zoo exhibit! It’s so so demeaning!! I literally open a book and see a character has bipolar and am like: “Ok well, the climax is going to be them doing something dangerous and manic.” Even if the book is, like, about surfing! Or art! Or mystery solving! Yes please talk about a mental illnesses lows…and yes often it is tragic and dangerous and sad. Put that in the book. But don’t make their entire character arc a meltdown unless that’s all the book is about.
12. HEROES DO A TERRIBLE THING AND VILLAINS DO A GOOD THING.
✓ I LOVE THIS SO MUCH I WILL TURN IT INTO A PIE AND EAT IT! Um…yes that did sound better in my head? Never mind. The fact is: intense appreciation.
I love it when things get turned on their head like this!! It makes my little heart beat faster. Also it (a) makes characters more complex, (b) everyone is morally grey! morally grey for you! and you! and you! and (c) you never know who to love and who to hate! You have to doubt yourself about everything.
Who doesn’t love that kind of trauma?!? It’s so much fun!
Unless you are Bourne and arguably really good at shooting things and being a ninja (which makes up for a LOT of other failings) — then it’s a ✗ from me to amnesia plots. I find them soooooo tedious.
A few books have done it brilliantly!! And I will cheer them forever (WILD BEAUTY I’M LOOKING AT YOU) but generally if you sneeze “amnesia!” you will only see the edge of my flapping cloak as I run far far away.
14. ALPHA MALES AND AGGRESSIVE BROODY DUDES.
Reading about these dudes is basically like making horrible soup out of stinky fish and then tipping it over your eye. It’s not right. ✗ NO to everything in this trope. This trope only exists because of chauvinism and guys being aggressive and domineering like they have “ownership” of someone else is romanticised.
Reading about super masculine guys is fine! It’s just when it crosses that line to where they act like a god given gift to the world and abuse people and are cruel / rude. It’s not sexy, peoples.
(WHY CAN’T WE HAVE MORE SMOL SOFT HUFFLEPUFF BOYS.)
(HEY, GUESS WHAT I’M WRITING.)
I have mentioned this recently but✓ I really adore small freaky kids with terrifying powers. AKA why are more books not like Stranger Things. #TheGoldenQuestionOfTheWorld There’s nothing worse than something being cute and terrifying, examples include (A) cats, (B) hedgehogs, (C) a single lego on the floor, (D) that small little screen popping up on your laptop saying “FILE CANNOT BE FOUND” when you’re trying to start writing for the day, and (E) me.
I want to be Eleven when I grow up. Or, um, grow down? To be fair, I’m already incredibly small so I just need a pink dress and less hair and way more waffles.
We’ll make it work.