I don’t have an amiable, fun intro for this. Here’s a definition. A trope is a commonly used theme, device, or character type throughout books, television, and movies. Now have some snark.
1. Instalove- You know how when you meet someone you just instantly fall in love with them? Me neither. Because it doesn’t happen. You’ve known each other for two days, calm down. Maybe have an actual conversation before you decide you want to sacrifice your life for this person. Just a thought.
2. Invincible, godlike hero- Is it a combat method? They’re a pro. Not just a pro, they’re the best. No one can beat them because of course not. No one else is as good as them, therefore they are unrelatable.
3. Girl is only badass if she’s physically strong or has a power- Because physicality and magic are the only things that could possibly do this, right? Not brains or courage. Not self-esteem or the strength to overcome. Nah, she needs a wand or a sword.
4. Love triangle- AKA the thing that never happens in real life. Ever. You’re never in love with two people at once. Those feelings are never reciprocated by both people. Your decision on which one to choose is never life or death. Literally no one cares but the three of you. Unless it’s polyamory. Then that changes everything.
5. Broody bad boy with a heart of gold- Maybe people like this exist. But I’m tired of reading about them. And that’s really it. They’re just all the same and I’m done caring.
6. Plain Jane- The conventionally attractive girl who has no idea she’s attractive (think whoever One Direction was singing about in “What Makes You Beautiful”), but then a handsome boy tells her she’s beautiful and suddenly SHE REALIZES. And then she instantly has great self-esteem. Every boy wants her but she is somehow unaware of this.
7. Pure virgin & experienced former manwhore- A trope of course developed and reinforced by male standards and the patriarchy. The narrative you can’t slut-shame for because she’s never even been kissed. So pure. Because her purity is in her vagina, apparently. And he has tons of experience because he’s attractive and of course he does. And again and again, they find each other. Because these are the only two types of people who can be in a relationship.
8. “I’m not like other girls”- Because there are only two types of girls: The Same and Different. That’s it. There is no variation. No nuance. Because girls aren’t even people, let alone well-rounded ones. But be careful; you don’t want to fall into the The Same category. Because The Same is bad. So there’s only two types of girls, but only one type is worth anything.
9. The “OMG I’m a What?” character- Character goes through Event. Character discovers powers. Mysterious Person tells Character, “You are X Magical Thing.” Character is in disbelief. A whole new world, fantastic point of view, lazy fucking storytelling. It’s the easiest way to explain the world to the reader because the MC doesn’t know either. How convenient! I know I can’t read a book without someone holding my hand.
10. Physical/MI is a quirk- I can’t even be snarky about this. This is just flat out offensive. And, of course, all over YA.
11. Broken family- Parents are distant or dead because of course they are. Siblings are shitheads. How else can your character have a rich backstory? You can’t be interesting if you have a loving, supportive family. Also, why don’t y’all watch your kids? They’re literally almost dying on the daily.
12. Love makes everything better- No it fucking doesn’t. You still have your same problems. Now you’re just ignoring them. So… have fun with that after the break up.
13. First sexual experiences are perfect- Because if there’s one thing gangly, awkward teenagers are good at, it’s sex. No, it wasn’t perfect. You knew exactly where you ended and they began. It was slobbery and awkward and probably hurt a little. And you didn’t orgasm. Unless you’re a dude, in which case you did immediately.
14. “It all changed when I met you”- Falling in love excuses all past behavior because they just hadn’t found the one that made them want to change yet. It’s in the True Love Handbook. Don’t worry, all the people you shit all over before will understand.
15. Reluctant monster- I’m inhuman and I hate it. Because being a non-human is bad. And I don’t want to do the thing I need for literal sustenance because it’s bad. I am a sad, broody creature who just wants to be human. 😦
16. Female villains driven by men- A man hurt me, therefore I am now evil. Because all my actions are driven by men. I have no agency. Just mean men. And all girls are good and pure, unless a man hurts them. Or they have lots of sex. Fuck those girls, too.
17. Special Snowflake Syndrome- Similar to the “I’m not like other girls” trope, but not gender-specific. And it’s everyone you’re different from. And it makes you somehow better and deserve special treatment. But you don’t because we’re all fucking unique in our own special ways so really you’re just as unique as the rest of us which means we’re all technically the same and nothing means anything and life is meaningless. But yeah, you’re super great, guy.
18. Manic Pixie Dream Girl- She has no personality whatsoever, just a few select characteristics lonely white boys like. She exists only to fulfill your creepy male fantasy. When she’s not on the page, she has no life. No backstory. She only exists when White Boy wants her to. Because she’s quirky or some shit.
19. Miscommunication for Drama- Just fucking talk to each other. All of this could’ve been avoided if you just told each other what you want/mean/what’s wrong/etc.
20. Compulsory Heterosexuality- He was a boy. She was a girl. Can I make it any more obvious? I don’t know, Avril, but you can certainly make it pretty damn trite and forced. They may have zero chemistry, but they’re a guy and a girl so… Because LGBT+ people don’t exist, unless they’re side characters and being single is sooooo yesterday.
And that’s it. I’m done. Blog post complete.
(This post was originally posted on my Tumblr.)