Let’s Look at the Life of Tropes
For me: The simplest way to define a “trope” is that it is a cliche and in the sense of literature, the cliche follows certain path to wind it’s way through to a predictive end.
Here are some examples: Bad Boy turns Hero; The Dumb Blond; The Shy Girl; The Butler Always Did it; The Angry Step Mother; …
You get the idea.
Osifo identifies the top five annoying tropes as
- Twins… the evil one and the good one.
- The bad guy who keeps coming back for more
- The “Plain Jane” who doesn’t realize any of her own potential until told by some jerk
- A gorgeous, fit, and wealthy commitmentphobe man who is lonely and falls for the everyday woman who probably doesn’t want him.
- In fantasy, where you have an old or ancient Being who is physically stunning and always falls for the young, often mortal, 20 year old.
Yup, I think I’ve actually read all of those a zillion times.
Here are my five top least fave tropes.
We find out at the end that the narrator is dead. It’s been done to death–yes, pun intended. Stop already and find a new direction to take.
The guy, who is a real jerk throughout the story suddenly finds some enlightenment and everyone forgives him, he gets the girl, and everyone lives happily ever after. Ugh…Ugh… and Ugh…
The girl who laments her own perceived short comings and sets out to be a sex pot only to be scorned by her friends and she falls for her best guy friend who’s always secretly loved her from afar.
The (usually woman) who is an alcoholic and witnessed something happen but then the whole narrative is whether she actually saw it, imagined it, or was in such an alcoholic stupor she is totally mistaken. It’s been done… again and again. Unless you have something new to add then move on.
I actually have a few more but will squeeze them in here. My fifth is probably the city slicker who inherits the family farm and dedicates himself back to the land and the farm girl that obviously follows. Like gag me.
The windfall. Either through winning, inheritance, or arranged marriage. The sudden wealth bestowed upon those who really need it. While it makes for a nice story, it’s cliche and boring.
Any, and all, love triangles….yawn.
…And the names given–especially to the alpha male– examples like:
Though I do sort of like Chance….
The fact of the matter is that literature and life can all be cliche and trope filled. We want the Happily Ever After and strive for a middle ground with readers.
If you’re a writer, try and mix it up a bit. Don’t be so predictable. You may surprise yourself and really enjoy writing something a bit different.
Tell me in the comments below, what are your favorite, and least favorite, tropes in literature?
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