TOP 5 HATED TROPES
by Bronto Incognito
Okay so we all have them. Those things we see coming in books a mile away and they just make us cringe and want to throw things because if you have to see that stupid ____ in a book ONE MORE TIME!!!!
So yes, this is a bit of a ranting streak here on our Top 5 Wednesdays. We did characters we want to drown and now onto plot points I’d like to drown, never to be seen or heard from again.
5. People having conversations when they should be escaping/fighting/whatever…
See? THAT is what you do when under attack! Or escaping or storming the castle or whatever it is that you’re trying to do in this scene BESIDES have a reconciliation or an argument about something that CAN TOTALLY WAIT or finally profess your undying love.
All of that can wait until later. I don’t want to call out any books by name, but this one couple kept having a conversation and make-out session while I’m yelling at the audiobook, “You haven’t finished ESCAPING YET!!!! There are more bad guys coming! That lady warned you about them!!!” And guess what? One of them got stabbed through the chest by the bad guy we already knew was coming.
And that’s what you get for making out and talking while you should RUNNING!!!!!
4. Girl Who Doesn’t Know She’s Pretty/New Boy With A Deep, Dark Secret
So I’m calling out both genders equally on this one. How many times have you seen it? The girl describing her long, curly hair, her narrow waist, her ample cleavage…
Or she’s tiny and petite and all adorable but just gosh-darn-it can’t seem to figure that out for herself. If only a boy would come along and tell her she’s pretty…
And yes, I did call out the ultimate brooding boy with a secret on this one, but this is what that boy will probably look like. He’s charming and sees her “in a way no one else does” and tells her she’s beautiful for the first time in her life, BUT WAIT! What is this deep, dark secret he’s carrying around??? Surely she won’t be able to see past that, will she?!?!
Look, pretty much all girls have SOME idea where they fall on the cute-o-meter and while it is nice to hear you look good, these girls are always described in ways that make you picture gorgeous teen supermodels, but they don’t seem to realize that.
And OF COURSE the girl’s going to get over whatever this kid’s stupid secret is. He’s HOT isn’t he? He told her she’s pretty, didn’t he? Bam. Married.
3. Badly Done Love Triangles…
Look, there ARE some books that do it well. Matched by Allie Condie, The Selection by Kiera Cass, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins…just to name a few. For this thing to work out there have to be logical reasons why they’re falling for two guys at once. Like, “Guy A broke up with me, I’m rebounding with Guy B, and here comes Guy A…wanting to get back together.” Or, “I’m to crazy-pants right now because of the whole arena thing. Please don’t make me decide things like what to eat or which cute boy to make out with. The government is still trying to kill us…”
But more often than not we have the same cliche things over and over.
1. Apex is a girl. Why? I have many theories, but mostly I think writers (and publishers) know that all girls want to feel wanted, and who wouldn’t want 2 super hot, but extraordinarily different boys after them?
2. One guy is the “safe” answer, but the other one is new and mysterious and just a bit (or a lot a bit) dangerous. Gee, I wonder which one she’s going to head for…
3. One guy is a d-bag. And no, that doesn’t mean the girl won’t pick him. Not at all.
Boo on all of these. Just boo. If you’re going for a love triangle and you’re a writer, think long and hard before you shove this overused plot device into our reading material. We can smell it a mile away.
2. “She let out the breath she didn’t know she was holding.”
But are you sure about that, Rory? Are you REALLY sure about that? Because if YA novels are to be believed, teenage girls (and boys) can run around all day not realizing when they’re holding their breath or not. It happens. All the time.
Or at least authors would have us believe. Now this one is a crack in the glass thing for me: I didn’t really notice it until someone pointed it out but now it’s all I can see!!!
And thing is, I get that this can happen sometimes. You get scared or nervous or whatever and you suck in–bodily reaction. Which is why it wouldn’t be that bad except PEOPLE USE THIS ALL. THE. TIME. And the worst part is? They don’t even change the wording!!! It’s in almost that exact. Same. Wording. every single time. Maybe switch “know” with “realize”, but it’s all the same. If you’re going to use this breath-holding thing, the least you can do is find a new way to say it!
1. Adult MEN Dating Teen Girls
Yes, Ellen. It IS gross.
This is another one I blame on Twilight, just like the love-triangle trend. I almost put it further down on the list, but it made it to #1 because I think it has the most potential for real-world problems in a girl’s life.
Here we have a young, adorable teenage girl and none of the boys her own age are that impressive but hey-hey-hey what is this? Cue the hot, ever-understanding, sweet guy who just HAPPENS to be like…19…20…even older…. If your world is a non-contemporary setting like…a high fantasy set in a magical world where girls marry at 16 all the time, then fine. That can work.
OTHERWISE STOP IT. NOW. It is NOT cute for a 19 yr old boy to be trolling for high school girls! “He seems so mature, though!…” Well, yeah! So does your dad. You know why?
THEY ARE BOTH ADULT MEN. It’s creepy and gross and NOT sweet!
Hank Green did a spectacular rant about this same thing (in real life, not books) that I’ll link here. But the gist of it is this: “20 Something Guys who Date High Schoolers Are Not Cool.” And he’s right. They’re just not. But we keep putting it into books with no repercussions and not taking seriously the idea that teenage girls (speaking from experience here people) like fictional love stories and QUITE OFTEN wish they read/watched/heard love story will become their own.
So let’s stop training them that it’s okay to date a dude that’s already done been an adult for while now. K?
**By the way, if you want a book where the adult hitting on the teen comes off as the total creeper he is, check out Sarah Dessen’s Saint Anything.
So that’s my list! Do you agree? Disagree? What are your least favorite tropes to see? Let us know in the comments below!!