I would like to start this by saying that you, as an audience, are terrible with filling out polls. Whatever, I decided to start with tropes. If you have questions, feel free to ask.
In general there are Tropes that I like as compared to tropes that I don’t care about or hate. I had to think of this for a while, and google some ideas of what tropes exist when I went into a blank. Because to be honest there are far more tropes that I don’t like than the ones that I do. I feel like I should make a post about tropes that I hate too. I guess I have a post for next week then.
So here is your comprehensive list!
Transported to Another World
In Japanese this is 異世界 or isekai. Its a subgenre of fantasy where the main protagonist is taken from their world and then brought to another world. (whether through games, death, etc.) In terms of isekai for true isekai, I am pretty rigid in what I like. I like charming and compelling characters. Being over powered is fine for me, but the story is what matters to me. Thus I tend to like complexity. Ones I like are Log Horizon, Overlord, Saga of Tanya the Evil, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (Slime Datta Ken), I’m a Spider, So what?. Those are all Japanese, and so for Chinese I’d go to xianxia novels (A subgenre of wuxia novels) like Coiling Dragon, Desolate Era, and Stella Transformations. And that’s just the ones I can think of off the top my head.
When it comes to the non-rigid standards of what isekai has, I can think of two other general types of stories that fit this “Transported to another world” scenario. Those are novels about games, and books about other worlds in the real world. Games first.
Game transportation novels often have so much in the game that its hard to distinguish between what is the real world or not. In terms of what I like for game novels is based around the progression of the story and if I like the main character. I tend to fall for the more complex of the stories that have a lot to offer. Ones I like are, Overgeared, Praise the Orc, and The King’s Avatar (off the top of my head as one’s I’d recommend).
Then we have other worlds in this world where characters switch between the two worlds. This would be Solo Leveling (I Alone Level Up; Korean), The Splintered Series, Modern Fairy Tales (By Holly Black), Twilight, Harry Potter, or any other series where the main character lives within two worlds.
In general, I love fantasy, but I also adore dual natured stories where you know that there are other worlds, that there is more complexity to this sphere than one world. I think that may be why I like these sort of stories, where the characters have memories of a past world, or live within two. However I like it when done well, which is to say that the plot uses it well, and it’s not simply a gimmick or an off handed note.
Chance and Fate
Or in other words the Chosen One and the Happenstance Hero. The Chosen One, our selected character by fate who was destined to save the world whether they wanted to or not. Then the Happenstance Hero (or what I call that) the person who falls into being the hero of the series not because they were destined by fate, but because as a person they fit the role. They happen to become the hero and it could have been anyone but there is no fate that decides it. People do.
I know a lot of people get so angry with the Chosen Ones. Mostly due to dystopia, where the main character always has to change the world. When it comes to Chosen Ones, I tend to think that there is a prophecy or reasoning behind why they were chosen and why it has to be them. I also like to think that Happenstance Heroes can become Chosen Ones, when chosen by the people (Katniss for instance or Mare). However I think there is a outer selection aspect to Chosen ones that true Happenstance Heroes do not have. The best example I have of Happenstance heroes would be Frodo and Sam from LOTR. They may have been chosen but they weren’t expected to become the heroes they became.
One happens by chance, the other happens by fate. But if the chance happens, it tends to be fate that they become the other. (If they happen to become the hero then it’s fate that they will become the chosen one of the people, the one people believe in.)
I love good chosen ones and good heroes. I like good battles of chance and fate. I like the morality of it. Which is perhaps why I like books where the MC struggles with their status and the position where it places them.
This is where I live and have lived. I don’t particularly like novels where it is black and white, evil and not. I feel that this can be well done, however I think there tends to be more depth to a world when its gray. I also grew up with crime and horror novels, then to fantasy. Crime and horror novels tend to deal in the real of evil and the reasoning for the evil, justification. As such morally gray books always get me.
I like the complexity.
I also watched a lot of ATLA (Avatar the Last Airbender) and it has a great deal of gray morality to it.
In general, I feel that gray morality of characters, of worlds, of situations, tend to add drama and complexity due to their nature as neither bad or evil. It makes them more believable and real, human. For human’s are more gray than anything else. Give me bad guys who do good things, and good people who do bad ones!
Powerful Character Who is an Addict
I don’t have much to say about this other than: yes. I adore the hero who has a tragic past and is addicted to whatever. I find them compelling (perhaps due to the gray morality). These characters tend to medicate in order to control, contain, or subdue their powers. When written well, they have a lot to go through and their journey is always one worth the read. In my opinion.
Arranged Marriage Dramas
This is probably one I never thought I’d like. And in truth I don’t just like Arranged Marriage Dramas. I do not like romance as a plot for the sake of romance as the plot. However I like Arranged Marriage plots because of the politics that tend to be involved and it’s the politics that get me in these plots. I like watching how the world falls apart, and together. I like seeing the secrets and the reveals. I like the drama that Arranged Marriages bring. I also like writing them.
Hidden King and Queens
This is the type of story that I go back to a lot. These are the characters who who have to give up their crown or hide it, and then have to get it back. These are the Kings and Queens who were cast aside and have to fight back. The ones who ran and have to rebuild. These are the heroes who happen to have been born royal, but become the one their people can believe in.
Rags and Riches
This means Rags to Riches (Either in power with magic, words, etc.) and Riches to Rags. I mean, who doesn’t like the fall of a supreme trying to get back to where they once were? I like power up stories and adventure stories as one falls from grace to return only different. Some of my favorite characters are the ones who go through these paths. Often this ties in with Hidden Kings and Queens, in the sense of those people are riches to rags to riches stories. I like characters who grow and change, so adventure paths like this get me.
My favorite types of books, because I love dragons. Thanks.
I really like assassins, and I don’t have much of a reason for it (I blame Assassin’s Creed as a kid). I find them fascinating and plots about them tend to be fascinating. It takes a lot to be a killer for hire, and to be an assassin on top of that? Complex characters tend to live here, in an (often) morally gray area.
I love myself a good redemption arc. When a bad character has to grow, adapt, and change their perspectives on life to become a hero? Sign me up. I believe 100% that this is due to the brilliance of Zuko’s redemption arc (ATLA). I also think this is why I love characters who grow so much, because of good redemption arcs. Redemption arcs have a fall from grace (Riches to Rags to Riches) and live in the morally Gray. I find it admirable to go through such change and worthy of praise.
Major Character Death
As long as the death was a service to the plot and wasn’t done simply for the shock factor, sign me up. Often character deaths serve to drive the MC forward (as well as to deal with morality in the world) and thus drive the plot. I do not appreciate when a character dies to die, and then has no further impact on the story after. If the death is going to cause such an effect to drive the MC forward, then I suspect that the death held some weight. If the death holds weight then the character will remember it and will think back to it, whether as trauma, motivation, or a combination of both. Character deaths matter, and if your character doesn’t go back to that then why kill the character?
Shock isn’t good enough.
I feel like I’m the only one of my friends that likes this one. However I suppose I am picky. The Time Travel needs to have a plot relevance and isn’t used simply to fill plot holes. The best example I have of good Time Travel stories would be Your Name. (Kimi no Na wa.) and Steins;Gate. When the plot revolves around Time Travel, then I’m down. When it is a device to fix or cause havoc, then no. Time Travel is complex and often it is just used to fix things. If you use it as a plot however, and revolve the plot around it, you can add complexity, morality, and questions that are associated with the medium.
Super Powerful Characters
When well written. I don’t like the abuse of powers, but I like OP characters.
A Well Written Evil
For me well written doesn’t mean developed and well adjusted and super grey that makes you question your morality (though that is good). It can mean an evil character who is evil to be evil and is simply evil and we don’t know more about it than that, but we are shown how much evil there is and what they can commit in order to justify the death. I didn’t need Hitler’s backstory and life story to know that he was a murderous foul villain who was Evil in person. I could see what he did and the actions he took, to see that.
If your character is greatly developed, adjusted, and grey, and makes you question everything, I love that. When the evil is developed through trauma and that trauma is explored, I love that. When your evil is just evil but we see how much horrors they can commit, then I love that. I love evils that are grey (and explained). I love evils who think they are good (Half a King anyone?). However I need the evil to be developed. When the evil is a looming shadow of horror that really holds no real hold or control over the story, I find myself unable to like the evil or to fear it.
What’s the point of having evil, if you aren’t going to show them being, well, evil? Show, don’t tell. If you want me to believe your villain is evil black, or evil grey, then show me.
I think I just wrote all too much for things that no one really asked. However if you want to comment or learn more on my thoughts, feel free to drop a comment down below.
Also, sorry for the early posting. I sort of wrote it all out and then pressed publish. I didn’t want to bother with grammar and spelling edits. If anyone reads all of this and sees any, please do tell me. Thanks!