Today’s Top 5 Tuesday is ‘tropes I don’t want more of’. Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by the super lovely Shanah over at the Bionic Bookworm. You can visit her here, and join in for Top 5 Tuesday by checking out all the amazing topics we have coming up!
I am absolutely cheating this week. I had a whole week off the blog last week because I was preparing myself for a job interview, but now it’s time to get stuck in! So, because I very much wanted to do last week’s theme (top 5 tropes I want to see more of), I thought I’d do a double post this week. And the themes are opposites so it still works! (Also, I am trying out gifs in this post, so please bear with me!)
So, top 5 tropes I DON’T want more of:
Poor kid who was secretly rich
Blegh! I think we’ve all had enough of this. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Harry Potter was amazing (although I’m deliberately not rereading it because I’m scared that as a now ‘mature’ adult I’m going to keep having more issues with it), but if I read one more story about a poor, abused, neglected kid who secretly had fortunes stuffed away in a vault (or marrying the richest person ever, ahem Feyre in ACOFAS) I’m probably going to vomit. A lot.
Love at first sight
Please excuse me while I vomit a bit more. Look, if you want to talk about lust at first sight, sure, I am all for that. Bonk until you get it out of your system. Hell, create a whole magic system around it. BUT, do not tell me that characters can fall ‘in love’ with a single meeting of eyes… across a room… *runs to toilet*
Dead, abusive and/or neglectful parents
I mean, seriously? Can we not do this again? I could name ten books off the top of my head that fit this category. Don’t get me wrong, some of them have been done VERY well, but many of them fall into the exact same pattern. This is not a trope that needs to be repeated. Characters can still face hardship without having a super sad history. Just saying.
Why me? I never asked to be the hero!
Whatever happened to the saying ‘be the hero you always wanted to be’? Why can’t these kids just step up and stop with the whining? Yes, you’ve had a hard life, but now you’ve got your secret powers and you’re secretly rich because your dead parents left you lots of money, so stop complaining and be the hero this story needs. Someone take a page out of Bruce Wayne’s book (the Marie Lu Batman: Nightwalker one) and get in there!
And they all lived happily ever after…
This will be a super unpopular opinion, so I apologise in advance… Also spoilers for ACOWAR. Vague mentions of The Illuminae Files and The Wicked Deep right at the end (have made text white so highlight if you want to read). Sorry, I was ranting.
PLEASE! For the love of all things. If Sarah J Maas ends Kingdom of Ash like she did ACOWAR, I will never forgive her. There’s like 20 characters, and if they all end paired off and happy I will never read another book of hers ever again. ACOWAR seriously annoyed me – they go to war, and everyone miraculously makes it out alive with all their loved ones (and the only character without either a confirmed or probable lover is the only LGBTIQA+ character? F*** you Maas). I would have liked it better if Amren had remained dead. You know, I can forgive Jay and Amie for The Illuminae Files ending because I cried so hard in Gemina, and they still had a lot of death. Jay kills of characters ALL. THE. TIME. Hell, if JK can do it, Maas can too. Also, The Wicked Deep? Perfect, until those last chapters. Bloody sugar coated endings ruin books.
And, top 5 tropes I DO want more of:
Enemies to lovers and/or slow burn romance
YAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSS!!! I am all about this. Captive Prince epitomised this perfectly. All of the tension and ‘will they, won’t they?’, ‘OMG WHAT IF HE FINDS OUT?’ and everything else that had me read this entire trilogy in a week. I will never get enough of this type of romance. The burning hatred, the grudging respect, the absolute surprise as it turns into passion. Ahh… ?
I do not mean the current fixation we seem to be enduring where we get the villain’s origin story so we can understand why or how they became evil. No, no. I mean a pure redemption story. Like Zuko in Avatar: the Last Airbender. A true villain redemption comes from our (the reader’s) initial hatred of this character. They are PURE evil. They do bad things because they think it’s their right / destiny / redemption. Like, really mean things (like hunt the avatar down to get their honour back). They might kill or hurt people, regardless of the consequences. They might be trying to please someone else who is also evil. They might just quest for world domination or want to watch everything burn. Whatever their motivation, they’re bad. And then they have a turning point. They realise (possibly with the help of an amazingly wise uncle *cough* Iroh *cough*) that there is potentially a different way to do things. And they change. But not only do they change, they have to convince their former enemies that they are really good – that they made a mistake. And now they want to help. *sniffles* *cries* *secretly bawling*
Also, if you haven’t, you should totally watch Avatar: The Last Airbender. Greatest anime series ever. I will fight you on this.
A main or significant character dies
KILL THEM ALL! No, not really. But, you know, kill some of them. There is a reason that Order of the Phoenix is my favourite HP book. It’s because I realised for the first time ever, that when someone you are absolutely rooting for is killed, you experience real grief. Well, like a mini version of grief anyway. Because they mean something to you. (Yes, EVEN THOUGH they are fictional.) Killing characters that the reader is attached to makes the book that much better because you have a higher level of emotions when you read. If Sirius hadn’t died, then we wouldn’t have felt so justified when Molly killed Bellatrix. If Sirius hadn’t died, then maybe Harry would have felt he had something to live for and wouldn’t have sacrificed himself. If Sirius hadn’t died, then maybe Kreacher would never have helped them to find the locket because he would still be treated badly. There are often more reasons than just providing the reader with grief, but grief is real and it’s one of the things that really bonds a story with me. Writers out there: don’t be scared to cause your characters a lot of pain (and death).
Ahhh, what would a fantasy novel be without a reason to drive the plot forward? Whether it’s to destroy the ring, kill the bad guy, or make good defeat evil once and for all. I also like the ponderous question: if there was no quest, would they all have gone their separate ways or would they still fight on? I’m also a big fan of prophecies (when they are done well).
Morally grey characters
This is absolutely my favourite trope ever. All the best antiheroes are morally grey. Mia from Nevernight, Jude from The Cruel Prince, Celaena from Throne of Glass, Laurent from Captive Prince, Alosa from Daughter of the Pirate King, Lira from To Kill a Kingdom, Asha from The Last Namsara, Isabeau from The Witches of Eileanan, and Kaz (and the rest of the gang) from Six of Crows. None of these characters would ever fit the ‘pure of heart’ trope. They’re all killers, and I bet they would do it all again. Well, Mia especially. I mean, you don’t go to assassin school to learn to crochet. Regardless, they all have their own motivations – be in someone lied to them, they lied to themselves, they want revenge because they had an injustice done to them; whatever it is, that drives them. It shapes who they are. Without it they are nothing but an empty shell of the burning person they were. And that is absolutely part of what they have to overcome once they have enacted their revenge.