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Let's Talk Tropes

November 23, 2017

Hey guys! Sorry it's been a bit since my last post. I happen to work in retail, and gearing up for Black Friday and the holidays has taken a huge chunk of my free time lately. But don't worry! I've been coming up with some ideas for new posts as well as keeping up on my reading. I started The Power by Naomi Alderman last week as well as Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker and Raven by Marv Wolfman so I look forward to writing some reviews for you guys soon.

But in the meantime I have been wanting to write a post about tropes. There is a booktuber named Lainey who does a series called Top 5 Wednesday on her youtube channel youtube.com/user/gingerreadslainey and she has done a couple posts lately about her top 5 favorite tropes as well as top 5 tropes she hates. Quite a few booktubers that I follow have done the tag as well and I decided I wanted to weigh in myself. So I thought I would post both here for you guys. I will list off my top 5 favorite tropes first and my 5 least favorites next. So this should be fun. Let's get in to it.

 

Top 5 Favorite Tropes

 

5. Medievalism. Medievalism is when an author derives character names, creatures, spells, or even character attributes from European folklore. Examples of classic medievalism in fantasy are dragons, griffins, elves, dwarves, etc. This is a most commonly used device in fantasy literature. I love the fantasy genre and a lot of my favorite fantasy novels and series contain at least a little, if not a lot of medievalism. I mean, who doesn't love dragons?? 

Some of my favorite books containing medievalism are: 

 

 4. The Cliffhanger. Most of us readers know exactly what a cliffhanger is. It's that crazy plot twist the author throws in at the very end of the story or when the story suddenly ends without wrapping everything up with a neat little bow. I will admit that there are many poorly done cliffhangers out there or cliffhangers that drive me absolutely insane. Sometimes if a cliffhanger isn't done well, it can leave us feeling like the author only used the plot device to increase sales of their upcoming sequel. But when a cliffhanger is done well and the sequel picks up nicely, I absolutely love and respect the cliffhanger and I can appreciate when an author leaves me wanting more. 

Some of my favorite cliffhangers:

 3. Alternate Universe/ Realities/ Timelines. One of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy tropes is alternate realities or universes. I love reading about the origins of these realities, how the main character got to be there, the mechanics of the place and how they are different from the main characters home. Often times the alternate reality is vastly different than the one we are used to but came about from very small actions or inactions of the characters (The Butterfly Effect). The use of this plot device makes the adventure the character must go on a lot more complicated than your typical "take object/person from point A to point B". 

Some of my favorite alternate reality stories:

 

 2. Dystopia/ Utopia. Being somewhat similar to alternate realities, this is really commonly used in sci-fi/fantasy. Dystopia and utopia stories take a look at a future world (sometimes a distant future and sometimes a not so distant one) where things are different from the world we know in either a very very bad way (dystopia) or a very good way (utopia). This different world could have come about as a result of a lot of large scale decisions and differences to the world we know or very small ones. For example, in 'All Our Wrong Todays' by Elan Mastai, the extremely technologically advanced world our main character is from is a result of the success of an inventor who created a device that created limitless clean energy. And in the alternate timeline where the scientist failed, the result is the world that we know. Authors often use this trope as a cautionary tale to the way society operates in the real world. I love dystopia/utopia stories and will almost always pick up a book if the blurb mentions this trope. I think it's an entertaining way to study the flaws and accomplishments in our society. 

Some of my favorite Utopia/Dystopia titles:

 

1. Unreliable Narrator. This is hands-down my favorite trope to read. It can be found in almost any genre, but I love reading it in psychological thrillers and mysteries. It adds a whole new element to the story and really keeps the reader guessing. Sometimes the reader knows the story is being told by an unreliable narrator from the beginning, other times we don't find out until the end of the story or even part-way through when we just think we have the story figured out. It's one of those plot devices that never gets old to me because even when I see it coming or the author makes it evident the narrator doesn't have it all together, it still makes for an interesting story. 

Some of my favorite books with unreliable narrators:

 

Top 5 Tropes I Hate

 

5. The Gullible Martyr. This is when the protagonist of a story is always trying to do the right thing, but will never resort to tactics that will actually defeat the antagonist because of their need to maintain their moral standards. But in not taking those actions, they actually put their loved ones in danger or leave room for the villian to endanger them. The protagonist always thinks the villian will keep their word, hence the "gullible" martyr. This trope drives me crazy! It's so predictabe and unrealistic. Usually the  protagonist will go on and on about how much they love their family or friends, but then when they are in danger they won't do what it takes to protect them. When your loved ones are in danger, you put your morals aside and do what it takes to protect them. Just not a fan when the main character or hero in the story takes the gullible martyr turn. This trope is usually used along side The Chosen One trope which I didn't include on this list because Harry Potter ;) . 

 

4. Insta-love. I know I'm not alone in my hate for insta-love, so why is it still a thing that is used in literature? It just isn't realistic. Insta-lust is totally fine and makes sense but when a character falls in love at first glance, it's just so cliched and totally unrealistic. It bugs me that this is a really common trope in YA fiction as well. A genre of fiction with the largest following of young people needs to stop illustrating unrealistic relationship expectations. Like pretty much all the tropes on this part of my list, it is just lazy storytelling. Take the time to build a realistic romantic relationship please. Thanks.

 

3. Unqualified protagonist succeeds above overqualified or more capable supporting characters. This happens a lot in YA fiction. First off, there are a lot of times where teens or even children hold lofty positions in governements or militaries which is bothersome. But then we will have a main protagonist who will move up in ranking or get all these extra opportunities when there are plenty of other characters who are way more qualified for that position or would complete the task way easier, but because the character is our hero, he/she gets... that... position?... I don't know, it just doesn't work for me.

 

2. Miscommunication. This most often happens when the information being miscommunicated is essential to the story or plot. It drives me crazy because the whole time I am reading an instance of miscommunication I feel like screaming at the characters to just talk to eachother! So many problems or obstacles can be avoided if the characters who are arguing or ignoring eachother or just happen to miss eachother for some silly reason, would just talk to eachother! This is in my top 5 just because it is so dang infuriating to read. 

 

1. Number one spot for my most hated trope... The Plain Jane! In this absurd plot device the protagonist (usually a female) sees herself as nothing special in the slightest. She sees herself as clumsy, socially awkward, average looking or even unattractive, until a dazzling new love interest points out to her what makes her special. Only then does she actually feel like she has self-worth and gains some confidence. This bugs me for so many reasons, but mostly it is insulting. Why does the girl or woman need a man (or vice versa) to come in and make her feel like she has worth? This is a huge problem in society for so many people, we rely so much on others opinions of us to make us feel worthy. In raising my kids, I want them to gain confidence and self-worth from their accomplishments and what they contribute to friendships and relationships. I think this trope just makes for a weak character and I have such a hard time getting behind them and rooting for them when they are so helpless and only gain strength and power once someone tells them they are pretty or talented. 

 

 

 

I'd love to hear from you guys! What are your favorite and least favorite tropes? It seems that a lot of my least favorite tropes are more abundant in YA literature and is a big reason I'm not really into the genre anymore. What do you guys think? Is there a genre for you that has too many bothersome tropes for your taste? Leave a comment below or on the twitter post. See ya in my next post!

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