Kill me with a spoon I hate these tropes so much. After writing the Tropes I love, with great difficulty, I decided to do the easier variant: things I hate. I feel like I can easily rant about things I can not stand far better than I can say the things I like. I will not get into ones I am apathetic towards.
For the ones I like, go here.
Without further ado.
Love Triangles for the Love Triangle
I think that this one has to do a lot that I don’t like unnecessary drama. There is a thing called communication and talking. Half the time in these Love Triangle our home girl doesn’t use this skill. I’m cool with the idea of a person liking multiple people at once but to use it for the drama and to make a mess of it? Count me out.
In general it’s just a troupe I don’t like. Especially in novels where romance is not the general lead and the way the love triangle takes away from the plot progression (IMO). So. No. If it adds to the story, then I’m down. Otherwise? No.
Drama for the sake of Drama
Everything is going well, let’s add drama! This is writing 101. When you don’t know what to do with your characters throw them into a situation and see how they react. However when that situation is solvable by a good cup of tea and a conversation count me out. Like. Use your voices and your words people. If we have a character who was articulate and suddenly not able to now? I can’t deal with that.
This isn’t to mean secrets. When secrets are found out, it is hard to explain one’s self, due to the stigma around it. Additionally finding out information about things makes people unable to listen. Realistic reactions are okay with this, like the inability to listen or to speak about it. I understand those.
But if the situation is like a he said she said, or a mess of information being spread and the characters could solve all the heart break by just talking and really talking. I just. Can’t.
Magical Teenage parents who are absent.
Like where are the adults as these children are royally screwing up?
Kinda kidding, kinda not. Like so often in fantasy or sci-fi novels YA wise, the parents are gone and our main characters have to rely on themselves without any parental guidance. I mean, it’s great empowerment, but at the same time. Children in this modern era don’t even know how to do their taxes. If the villains still lived, you’d know they’d exploit that.
Not all familial relationships are amazing, however if you develop a strong parent to child relationship… can’t the kids trust the adults more? Can’t the adults wonder more? Can’t they ask questions. Can’t the kids perhaps believe that their parents will understand. Like kid, if you understand that this mythological thing is real and have proof, why wouldn’t your parents? If your parents have let you do as you have until now, you think that they are going to suddenly pull you back and tell you, you can’t? No. They may want you to be safe, but chances are they’d want to support you and make sure you are okay.
Absent parents aren’t always the way to create an interesting situation. Parents can add another dynamic, because kids can’t always solve everything and that’s okay. You shouldn’t have to be expected to.
Just no. Next.
lol I think I’ve given enough scathing paragraphs on this topic in my reviews. As an overview of those:
There is a difference between Lust and Love. There are different types of Love. I will admit that there are some people that fall in love after a few weeks, a few months, and get married and make it last. Those are exceptions. Love develops, love changes, and if you think you are in love and have found your soulmate after 2 weeks, I’m sorry. Chances are, that’s lust. Just saying.
Nothing grinds my gears more than a character that falls in love for no real reasons. Soulmates is an easy copout — that our souls were just made for each other so obviously I will fall in love with this person. Its a copout.
I’m alright with loves that have begun past the pages and are really only explored in the pages. That’s fine. It has previous development.
If your characters are meant to be together show me. I want to read that. I want to know how they are meant to be, how their souls connect, and how their minds do. Add the development, you cowards.
Trinity Syndrome, Damsels and Damseling
To begin with here I’d like to talk about Trinity Syndrome where our female lead looks like she will be strong, resilient, and have a personality but just doesn’t. These characters are pretty to look at. They are nice to think about and fill the hole we have for strong females. They are also aggravating, as they are there for nothing more than to be the wise character.
Then we have the damsels. Damsels are the girls who are written in the story to be saved. They have no real purpose in the plot, and don’t add much to the story other than to be a love interest in the end. These are the girls that female characters that fall to Trinity Syndrome try not to become.
That’s horrible all on it’s own and while that bothers me. There is nothing I hate more, when it comes to female characters, than “damseling” or being “damseled.” This is when you take a particularly strong, interesting, and developed character and shatter her. This is like taking Katsa (Graceling) our super powered fighter, and making her a dame in need of saving. Katsa can save herself. If you have a powerful character who in any other situation would be able to protect herself, and suddenly she needs to be protected or saved and expects herself to be saved by the male lead? Get out of here.
Plot Characters as Major Characters
Plot characters are characters introduced to drive the plot more and have no other traits other than to be added to the plot. Take em out and nothing changes. These are love characters that are added for the sake of being a love interest. These are the comic relief characters who do nothing else. These are the characters that are written to die, for the sake of their death driving the plot forward, however they could have been anything or anyone.
If you want a piece of furniture, make it a piece of furniture. Maybe then it’ll have a bit more personality and make the MC have a bit more of an interesting life. Develop the characters, you cowards!
“I have changed” speeches
Show don’t tell me. If your character is not the same girl as she was at the beginning, I will know that by her thoughts, by her words. Not by a long winded paragraph on how she has changed or evolved. In fact often when I read these, it makes me irritated.
This isn’t to say the scene where a character looks back at themselves in a mirror and is like, “I don’t recognize her.” Those scenes can have some serious introspection.
I mean the scenes where the character is like. “I am not the same girl as I was back in [place]. Or the girl I was in [place]. I have grown. I have fought. I became [thing]. I am changed.”
And actually I think I’d be okay with above, if there was weight to those changes outside of it. However if the only time your character addresses their change is in how they think of themselves but no one else has, their decisions haven’t changed or anything else. Please. No.
Mental Illnesses as Quirks that Make the Character Unlike others, without really Addressing or Representing that Mental Illness.
This is making a character bipolar and not really exploring manic episodes and just being like “oh they are moody because they are bipolar.” This isn’t looking at how a mental illness completely involves itself in a person’s life and their mental state. Different cultures have different ways the illnesses show. Different cultures react to them differently. There are distinct traits of how they effect people’s lives and minds. They aren’t quirks. Do you need to go deep? No. Not every experiences them the same way and it’s okay to have your character be different. However don’t make it a quirk to make them #relatable.
(I’ve seen online people talking about Mental Issues as the Final Problem, however I haven’t really read those sorts of stories outside Amnesia plots. So I can’t comment on it.)
This is a mental health concern. It is not a convenient plot device that is used to drive the plot forward. And do not use this as a drama point to add more drama. “Oh man, I forgot everything.” to add drama? No. I have read too many stories where the amnesia has no other plot point outside of to add drama.
Additionally if you are going to add weight to those memories make sure that weight matters. I want them to get the memories back. If the plot is more complicated and talks about how a person becomes something more then make it so that I don’t care if they do or not, and may not even want to know. I think my favorite plots with this troupe are the ones where a character has no memories and are told that they are someone and at the end it doesn’t matter if they are or they aren’t because they became that person.
In general, however. Stay away from it. Find something else. Thanks.
When done badly. This is an important stipulation. I think character deaths can be very powerful, however if a character dies for the shock factor. Get out of here! Deaths, deaths that matter and the ones I want to read, are the ones that are going to leave a mark. They are the ones that are going to be on the character’s mind. They are the ones that may add trauma. They add weight to a situation. They can not be easily developed. If you don’t want to deal with the repercussions of the mental toll of a death, don’t write it.
Abuse and Trauma for the shock and little to no repercussions
Have I made this clear enough yet? I’m not sure. Trauma and Abuse are not shocking! They are not meant for the plot. There is complexity, and intricacies to adding these to a character’s story. If you don’t want to add them in, don’t write it. These things change characters, change motivations, change minds, change the world of a character. These things have weight, don’t act like they don’t. If you don’t want to deal with how to write it, then don’t add it.
A Badly Written Magic System
I have gone over this so much it feels. Outside of me preferring hard magic systems, I can’t stand bad written ones. Just. Look up how to write them well, soft or hard systems. Most of the time I find it that I have issues with how soft written magic systems are written. I don’t want to go off, so just. This.
No Depth to the Evil.
I’m cool with bad guys who are evil for the sake of being evil. I’m cool with Tyrannical governments that are evil. However, if you are going to have an evil system there is probably a reason behind that system and it should be explored if your characters are going to destroy that system. What is there to say that the system they (MC) create is better, but if it’s just a “this system is bad” and no other reasons. Please. No. Elaborate it. Develop it. Systems have reasons. Reasons and development only make things fuller. (However this is probably me liking grey morality.) I can’t stand tyrannical governments that are bad, and just bad. Everyone can see it, but there is no explanation or interest in how it got like that. There are reasons. I want to know them.
In regards to Evil bad guys who are evil, if you aren’t going to define them or go more into them, at least show how evil they are. Don’t just talk about it. Depth doesn’t have to make them grey but at least make them tangibly evil. Having “Yes there are many murders” compared to showing a massacre is very different. Saying that they have created a horror of the world, versus showing people suffering, is very different.
Show, don’t tell me.
TL;DR: Develop your characters and situations you cowards. Show me don’t tell me. Add weight to the story. Thanks.
Next up is either Mythical Creatures or Mythology. I’m not sure which one. Will decide next week. Thanks!