Tuesday, 17 May 2016

TOP 10 LITERARY TROPES WE LIKE

As TvTropes will be quick to inform you - not all tropes are bad. This is due in part to our differing opinions on what we like and dislike to see in a narrative, and in part to the fact that absolutely everything is considered a trope nowadays. A Lawful Good protagonist - trope. An ambiguous protagonist - trope. A supervillain mastermind protagonist - also a trope. A protagonist Just Like Us™ who finds him/herself in over his/her head? You guessed it - trope.

So in this overwhelmingly trope-y world where so many storytelling devices have been recognized, it's impossible not to actually harbor a (not so) secret fondness for some tropes - and to shamelessly seek them out in the books we choose to pick up.

You know you have them. And these are ours.



1. Friendship squads


Picked by: Lexie

As a reader, I like nothing best than being mindlessly tortured. You know what it's like - it's not enough to just like a book and marvel at its complexities and intricacies. Rather, I like to actually suffer once a book is over and resort to re-reads and panegyrics on its behalf and miss its characters like I would actual friends if they abandoned me. And this is hands-down the easiest with the books that feature friendship squads.

They band together to fight, or wreak havoc, or cause mayhem. From time to time, they also band together to have ice-cream and party. They're all a little bit in love with one another, and they're fiercely loyal, protective and trustworthy - but only with each other. When they fight, they shatter hearts (and sometimes buildings).

As seen in: Six of Crows, The Raven Cycle, The Unexpected Everything



2. Bad-ass female characters


Picked by: Natalie

You can't deny that reading about a strong, badass female is the best thing ever. Meeting, becoming and stepping into the shoes of a tough girl who suffers no fools makes a book so much more interesting. No longer do we want to read those girls who rely on a man, we want those girls who have to save their sorry behinds, showing who the real boss is and not having a hair out of place while doing it. And if they do? They certainly don't care. They got the job done.

As seen in:  Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The Murder Complex.




3. Grey and gray morality


Picked by: Lexie

If you are at all frequent around these parts, you'll have seen this one coming. To the newcomers - welcome aboard! We play in the morally-gray areas here. The bad side kind of has a point, and the good side has its problems. The villains are sassy and the good guys are morally ambiguous, and absolutely everyone is some kind of gray.

Most prominently - the anti-hero. (Who, in these stories, nearly always takes the cake. Any cake. Every cake. Pick a cake - but be quick about it, or the anti-hero has taken it.)

The end justifies the means for most - it's just the nature of said end that diverges... slightly. The bad guys want chaos and mayhem. The good guys want contained chaos and mayhem. And oftentimes it's anyone's guess as to which guys are the former, and which the latter. Let the morally-questionable actions begin!

As seen in: The Song of Ice And Fire, Vicious, This Savage Song



4. Cheesy HEA endings (Happily Ever Afters)


Picked by: Natalie

Not going to lie, I love a happy ending. Whether it's cheesy or even kind of unrealistic and predictable, I want the characters to live the life they wanted in the end. It's also important to me that the character who has been through so much deserves to have the happy ending with a partner and children. Why not? Let them have the life they've suffered for and have the 9-5 routine. Haven't they been through enough?

P.S. I am also an eternal defender of the Harry Potter epilogue. Cheesy or not, let Harry be happy!

As seen in: Anna and the French Kiss, Thoughtless, Slammed.



5. Unreliable narrators


Picked by: Lexie

It's just a lot more fun when a protagonist is lying to you. (What, that's just me?) Whether the protagonist has amnesia/hallucinations/a mental disorder, or whether they're outright lying to amuse themselves and take the reader for a ride, unreliable narrators guarantee that said ride will be chockful of twists and turns.

As seen in: The Mara Dyer trilogy, Made You Up, We Were Liars



6. Love/hate relationships


Picked by: Natalie

We all know these kind of relationships in books. The characters constantly argue to hide their true feelings, even though it's 100% obvious how they feel. Aren't those the best kind to read about? We're kept on our toes, as are the characters, and the banter and flirty chat is always so entertaining to read. It's also the question of 'will they, won't they?'. And often it's the opposite of instalove, which we all dislike with a passion. Keep writing these!

As seen inThrone of Glass, Obsidian, The DUFF.



7. Pets! Dragons! Magical creatures!


Picked by: Lexie

As a general rule of thumb, you either like fictional pets, or you're a soulless demon who rose from the pits of Tartarus. (Possibly there's a third option, but hey. We never promised to be unbiased. Except when we did. But we're ignoring that now.) I am both an avid pet-lover and a former Tartarus-dweller, so it all works out well for me.

Why more authors refuse to add pets and magical creatures to their stories is probably closely related to the (in)famous Absent Parent(s) trope, rampant in YA. It's difficult to add a snuggly little furball into a chaotic, dramatic, oftentimes warring world and have them live through it all. (Because if you happen to introduce a lovable pet and then kill them down the line, there's no either-or: you are a soulless demon from the pits of Tartarus, and - dishonor on you, dishonor on your cow. You know the drill.)

But that is no excuse, dear authors. Because in a world where tiny, vulnerable pets run a high risk of death, dragons, wyverns, and blast-ended skrewts don't. So pets are always possible, and always appreciated, and they'll buy all kinds of goodwill with us.

As seen in: The Scorpio RacesHarry Potter, Throne of Glass



8. Comic relief sidekicks


Picked by: Natalie


A lot of the time, the protagonist has a best friend who is the one always cracking the jokes. I, for one, never have a problem with this. They're there to lighten the mood and to give us a rest from the constant negative attitude from the main character and story, which is definitely what we need at times. Not only that, but a lot of the time, the sidekick ends up becoming an underdog and secret badass who in the end does something that is incredibly helpful to the good side winning in the end. We all love humour and the lovable sidekick, so I'm absolutely fine with them in every book.

As seen in: Shatter Me, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Gallagher Girls



9. Role reversal


Picked by: Lexie

Prince-Charming-turned-Big-Bad. Villain-turned-awkward-friend. Enemies-turned-lovers. Lovers-turned-enemies. Contract-killer-with-a-redemption-arc. A-mentor-or-sidekick-with-a-dark-twist. Basically, any sort of role reversal qualifies.

In the case of epic betrayal (usually a 'good' character revealing to have been working with the dark side due to all their fabulous cookies), this trope comes with an added bonus of a plot twist. In the case of a character from the wrong side of the conflict slowly turning over a new leaf, meanwhile, it's incredibly endearing to watch them struggle (and sometimes fail) to appeal to the good guys. 

This trope plays well with the morally-gray trope, and for that it gets an extra dark-side-cookie.

As seen in: A Court of Thorns and Roses, Lord of the Rings, Shadow and Bone



10. Yet another trilogy


Picked by: Natalie

See, this I don't mind. If it's done right. We all hate it when they try and drag out three books out of a short story, but it's only good if there is story to fill it all. There is nothing worse than finishing book one and saying to yourself 'um, the story is done?' but that's not always the case. Finding those series that are so jam-packed full of thrilling adventure and excitement, and finishing the first book remembering that there are two more books to go: yes! The more story, the better. We're not ready to leave the characters just yet!

As seen in: Unearthly, A Court of Thorns and RosesAngelfall





Embrace the trope! Love the trope! Everything has been deemed a trope anyway, so you have no choice. (And if you feel let down by humanity for this, please welcome yourself to one of the tropes listed above for an idea as to what to do about it.)

Or, even better, let us know what your favorite tropes are in the comments below (and which books correspond to them)! We're always looking for more to channel in our reading and our writing lives.



12 comments:

  1. I can't say I don't love these tropes. Unless I'm lying. Then I can totally say that. Also, I have some of these in my current WIP. But none of the bad tropes. #yayme

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    1. I PURPOSELY put friendship squads as #1, partly because I just finished ACOMAF, partly because you and I have discussed Six of Crows so much lately, and partly thanks to your WIP. SO THERE!

      These tropes are basically 'hooks' for us - promise us any, or multiple, or ALL of the above, and HOOK. LINE. SINKER. US.

      So your WIP is basically being mentioned in a perfect place.

      - Lexie

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  2. YES TO ALL THESE TROPES. (Except maybe the happily ever after? Sorry, I'm sadistic.) But role reversals and gray morality are some of my favorite things.

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    1. Oh, same, Katherine! 3:) I'm a teeny tiny little bit (by which I mean - a lot) sadistic, so a cheesy HEA does very little for me. Thus the gray morality and role reversals on my end. But Natalie is a much better and more stable person, so we balance one another out.

      You're NOT alone, though. It's not quite MY type of series if I can't go BWAHAHAHAHAHA along with the character(s) at least once.

      - Lexie

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  3. Totally completely agree *nods* Especially Grey and gray morality, Pets! Dragons! Magical Creatures! and Role Reversal. To be honest I have almost all of them, in 2 of my WIPS. Spread out of course, but still. Except for number 4, no true HEA's for my characters. But close enough. :3 and 10, because those 2 WIPS of mine are...... just not a trilogy :P

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    1. Y E S. Even if you never sit down to consider what your favorite tropes are, somehow they'll still end up in all your writing projects. Until this post, I never gave it any serious thought, but now in hindsight - THE CHANNELING OF SAID TROPES IS STRONG IN THIS ONE. (Or, rather, in this one's past projects.)

      Except, no true HEAs on my end, either. 3:) But, hey, close is good enough.

      - Lexie

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  4. OMG YOU JUST READ MY MIND, HONESTLY. I've just been thinking about tropes I like lately. XD I did a post on a few of them a while ago and fajdkslad I LOVE SO MANY TROPES. They aren't bad! I think the only thing you need in a book is to be an excellent writer and create complex, deep characters. Then you can get away with any kind of trope. ;)
    I ADORE unreliable narrators, hilarious BFF (as long as they have their own lives and don't just rotate around the protagonist), and morally grey characters. Loooooove the morally grey ones. <333 AIDAN. Ahem. (Does he even count? IT, I mean....hmm. I have a computer crush.)
    AND I ALSO LOVE LOVE LOVE tiny spunky girls! Like Zuzana from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. And loveable dorks, like Percy Jackson. <3 And I looove whimsical vague characters, like Finn from Bone Gap or Luna from Harry Potter.
    SO MANY GLORIOUS TROPES! *flails tropishly with you*

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    1. I SHALL LOOK SAID POST UP NOW THAT I HAVE MY LAPTOP BACK AND I SHALL AGGRESSIVELY NOD AT EVERYTHING. (I mean, I don't know this yet, but... I know this yet.)

      SO, SO AGREED on the real substance being in the nuance and the layers, rather than an active avoidance of every possible trope. EVERYTHING IS A TROPE, ANYWAY, IT'S A FOOL'S ERRAND. (Which is probably the name of at least two tropes, in and of itself.)

      I SHARE YOUR COMPUTER CRUSH, AS YOU WELL KNOW! MY SWEET, MURDEROUS CHILD! LET ME LOVE YOU, AIDAN! <3

      TINY SPUNKY GIRLS AND WHIMSICAL, VAGUE CHARACTERS AND ADORABLE DORKS! HOW COULD WE FORGET? *INCLUDES POST-FACT*

      I've just descended into Caps now. It's time to end this comment. *flails tropshly into infinity*

      - Lexie

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  5. YES TO ALL. I love friendship squads and pets and morally grey characters and role reversal and...well, you get the idea when I say "ALL." In fact, pets and friends feature heavily in the book I'm writing because 1) there's an animal sanctuary and 2) friends. Obviously.

    AND UNRELIABLE NARRATORS YES. Dangerous Girls is my life.

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    1. I MUST READ THIS BOOK, EMILY! I've heard talk of this glorious WIP, and NOW THAT THERE'S A PET SANCTUARY AND FRIENDS...!!! *signs the f up*

      I PURPOSELY didn't mention Dangerous Girls, because I couldn't decide if the mere inclusion of that book in that trope would be a spoiler? But MINE, TOO. YAAAAS.

      - Lexie

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  6. Yes to these. YES TO ALL OF THESE!!!! Oh my, yes. I will never get sick of any of these. I will defend the HP epilogue too!!! <3 I liked seeing that all my favourite characters were happy. Love an unreliable narrator, makes for such interesting reading. Love/hate relationships are awesome too, I love the sass that it brings. And friendship squads are the best!

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    1. In fact - if someone could write a love/hate relationship within a friendship squad, narrated by an unreliable narrator, wherein all parties get a happy ending - THAT MIGHT BE YOUR FAVORITE BOOK! (Take note, authors!)

      Thaaaank you for stopping by, Charnell! I've been remiss in blog visitations and I miss yoooou!

      - Lexie

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