10 HATED Tropes I LOVE
(Or at least don't mind...)
A while back, I broke down the 10 super popular tropes I absolutely hate, and now I'm flipping the script! Sorta. I'm listing the 10 tropes and cliches that people drag through the mud, but I don't really mind them. You don't have to agree with me. In fact, you probably won't, but these tropes just don't make me rage.
For some of ‘em, I think the contention is kinda silly. They're not THAT bad. And there are other tropes on this list that I really like, and even love. And I'm not sorry about it! You just hate half these tropes 'cause the Internet told you to!
A quick disclaimer: Just because I enjoy some of these tropes doesn't mean I'm encouraging you to use them. Some of these tropes are cliches and it's generally not a good idea to include cliches in your writing. I'm just explaining why they don't particularly bother me. Now, on with the tropes!
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Number 1: The Orphaned MC
This one had to be listed first for a reason, because it's awesome! People hate on the orphaned MC trope. They say it's not realistic, which is just the dumbest shit I've ever heard. Do you think orphans don't exist? That parents just never die?
I've also heard that it's used a lot and yeah, it is, because it's perfect! For starters, it makes the main character instantly sympathetic. Being an orphan is fuckin' hard! Second, it gets the parents out of the picture. Parents screw up plot lines. They're always setting curfews, checking in on their kids, visiting for the holidays. They're always gettin' mixed up in shit. But you don't gotta deal with that if they're dead! I will stand by the orphan MC forever and always. It is a great trope, and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot.
Number 2: The Mean Girl
This isn't a trope I love, per se, but a lot of people hate the mean girl trope and I don't really agree with the flack. Sometimes people say it's damaging, that it pits women against one another, and I can agree with that if all the women in a book are written this way. However, if you got a mix of nice girls and mean girls, I don't see the harm. If anything, it's just realistic. Mean people exist. Some of them are girls. That's how the world works.
I've also heard that this trope is anti-feminist, which I completely disagree with. Feminism doesn't mean that all women are perfect, wonderful angels who fart out love and rainbows. You can believe in gender equality and still recognize that some women are assholes. I don't think the mean girl trope encourages women to be mean to one another. If anything, it's relatable and relieving to know that you're not the only one who has experienced bullying or harassment. If boys can be dickheads, girls can, too, and every gender in between.
Number 3: Soulmates
People shit on this trope because it can be cheesy, over the top, and of course, cliche. I used to shit on this trope, too, but now I say, "Give soulmates a chance!" I agree that soul mates can be extra cringe, especially if the writer is going with a toxic ownership angle or if they're utilizing insta-love.
But the concept of soulmates is so broad and open to interpretation that you could do really creative things with it. I've seen some soulmate concepts that were so fun and unique I wished I had thought of them! Plus, it's romantic. We all want to feel like we are destined for love and happiness. All I'm saying is I wouldn't be against writing soulmates in the future. I think it's fun and cute. Sue me.
Number 4: Plot Armor
There are situations where a character being spared is unrealistic. You gotta make it make sense given the stakes and the circumstances. What I don't understand is the widespread hatred when the main cast survives, period. Why do you want so desperately for everyone to die? Why is that the only source of realism for you? And I'm saying this as a bitch who murders the shit out of her characters. I have no problem kicking 'em off!
But I also have no problem reading books where the characters live. If I like 'em, I kinda want them to stick around. I think you guys may have read or watched a little too much Game of Thrones and you've forgotten that some people may not be gutted, or beheaded, or blown to bits. Survival does happen sometimes, I promise.
Number 5: The Mirror Cliche
The mirror cliche is when a protagonist stands in front of a mirror toward the beginning of the book in order for the reader to get their physical description. It is definitely overdone and should probably be avoided. However, outside of it being an overdone cliche, which it absolutely is, the flack this trope gets doesn't really make sense to me.
The first criticism I see is, "People don't actually do this. They don't study their reflection!" What the fuck do you think is the point of looking in a mirror? I study my reflection all the time. The features that I like, the features that I don't like. That's the whole point of looking in a mirror!
The second criticism is, "It's unrealistic. No one would describe their appearance to a random audience!" They also wouldn't describe their step-by-step movements through every occurrence throughout their life, but that's what you're writing throughout your entire story, because that's how narrative works.
The physical description isn't them literally saying, "Hey guys! Here's what I look like!" It's a narrative tool. Like I said, this technique should be avoided because it has been done to death, but don't tell me it doesn't make sense, 'cause it does!
Number 6: The Damsel in Distress
Hear me out! The damsel in distress usually sucks, because nine times out of ten the damsel is incompetent, which is fucking annoying. However, if you removed this element–if the damsel is a capable, smart, strong-willed woman who just happens to be in a shitty situation, then I have no problem with a hero swooping in and saving the day. It's romantic, and swoon-worthy, and inspiring!
And who says the damsel has to be a woman? I think a lot of people regardless of gender like the idea of someone they love being there for them in their greatest time of need. Isn't that something that everyone kinda wants? As long as our damsel has her shit together, I'm fine with a heroic rescue. It gives me all the feels.
I think a lot of people regardless of gender like the idea of someone they love being there for them in their greatest time of need. Isn't that something that everyone kinda wants?
Number 7: Dream Sequences
It's typically considered a cliche to open your book with a dream. Especially if dreams are not a recurring theme throughout the book and that's the only dream readers are gonna get, right at the beginning. This would be considered a fake out. It doesn't make sense, because you're opening your book with something that's not plot-centric.
However, some people hate dream sequences in any form and in any situation, and I'm not here for that shit! I've heard people say that dreams aren't relevant because they "don't matter," they're "just dreams." Dreams have been analyzed throughout history philosophically, religiously, and scientifically. They matter! A lot!
Some people believe dreams have meaning, that the images and symbols are subconscious messages. And even if you don't believe this, dreams can reveal a lot about what you're going through mentally and emotionally. In general, be careful of stepping into cliche territory, but when done right, I love books that feature dream sequences because I find them fascinating.
Number 8: Pretty People
I'm the first person to say that unless you're writing erotica, your characters shouldn't be 11s out of 10s. But I'm sorry, I like reading about pretty people! They don't have to be perfect or flawless to be hot.
"But Jenna, it's just not realistic to write pretty people! You should be writing 'real' characters."
Hold up. Pretty people aren't real? Then what are they?
I agree with the push for body diversification in fiction. However, I don't know if you know this... Pretty people can be disabled. Pretty people can have stomach rolls. Pretty people can have vitiligo. There is beauty in so many different types of people, and I don't think you need to paint your cast as homely in order to be realistic. If anything, celebrating the beauty in their uniqueness is a lot more appealing.
Number 9: Resurrection
I understand that the overuse of resurrection in a story will eliminate the stakes and start to look like a scapegoat. I absolutely do not recommend that you use resurrection willy-nilly. However, as a reader, if I love a character and you kill them….
I don't care how you do it. I don't care if it fits the plot, or it's random as fuck, or doesn't make any sense at all. I will love, and adore, and appreciate you if you resurrect them! I just want them alive! I don't care why or how!
This is one of those tropes that comes down to reader mentality and writer mentality. As a writer, I am very reluctant to resurrect a character. But as a reader, I'm all for it! I just wanna read my faves. However you gotta make it happen, I support you!
Number 10: “She let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding.”
I'm gonna start by saying that this is a cliche. It has been overdone to death. It is terrible. It is cheesy, and you should absolutely never write it! Do you hear me? Never!
I don't like it because it's a cliche, especially in young adult and in fan fiction. Every time you read it, you're just like, "Ugh." Grab a YA book and flip to any page and you will probably find this exact line with no deviation.
However, I'm going to say something so controversial, yet so brave. I've heard people say this line sucks because, "It's not possible! You can't not realize you're holding a breath!" That's a lie! This is a sign of anxiety. It's not universal, but many people who suffer from anxiety–especially if they carry it in their chest–will unknowingly hold their breath. Again, I am not encouraging you to write this line because it is laughable how often it's been used. Don't do it, for the love of God! I'm just saying that it is an actual thing that actually happens. Sincerely, an actual person with actual anxiety.
So that's all I've got for you today!
These are some of the tropes that most readers genuinely can’t stand, but I don’t really mind. Some of them are cliches, some of them have been overdone, and some of them can be found on any given page of any given YA novel. Am I sorry? Not one bit.
How about you? Are there any generally hated tropes you don’t mind?
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