Thank you, next. Tropes I Can’t Stand.

One definitive moment in my writing career was my creative writing class in my freshman year of high school. Before that class writing was all about grammar, and creative ideas, and spelling, and grammar. But from that first day of freshman year, till finals came rolling around, there was one thing that dictated everything I wrote-cliches. Be it similes, metaphors, plot ideas, or character dialogues; anything that came off as even the littlest cliche or tropey, my English teacher cut it down with no hesitation.

At the beginning of the class, I was extremely derisive, you can’t tell me what to write! Nothing under the sun is original anymore, so won’t everything I write be a cliche? As the year went on, I began to realize that there are good cliches and bad cliches. Popular tropes, and less popular tropes. Learning where to draw the line is one talent that authors need to possess. But it was also important for me to recognize that like most things, tropes are subjective, and it’s up to the reader to decide which tropes they prefer and which ones are an automatic turn off.

After having some time to hone my tastes and recognize what I would rather not read, I’ve come up with a list of tropes that I absolutely can’t stand. That’s not to say that I would never read a book with this trope, it’s just to say that I won’t enjoy it very much.

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Miscommunication

This is one that I feel like I could rant about for ages, but in all honesty, my rant will probably just consist of frustrated yelling. There’s nothing that makes me want to reach into the pages of a book more than a miscommunication plotline. If I could just reach in to grab the characters by their shoulders and force them to sit down in a room AND JUST FREAKING TALK. The whole story would be over. All problems solved. Why even bother writing the book?

I’m pretty sure Malka said this once, and it’s the absolute TRUTH so I’m going to quote her on this, “If you can solve all the problems with a simple phone call, then your book doesn’t have a plot.” Or something like that. I’m completely paraphrasing. But honestly, it’s true! If the entire plot of the book revolves around a lil’ bit of miscommunication, then it’s not a good plot!

Now there are different types of miscommunication plotlines, and there are some that I consider an exception to the rule of ew no this sucks. The You’ve Got Mail type of scenario is fine by me-Attached did it beautifully, Alex, Approximately less so, but still manageable.

All in all, I’d rather NOT pull my hair out in frustration when reading a book. So the miscommunication trope is going to get a solid no from me.

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Love Triangles

To be completely honest, I haven’t read that many books with love triangles in them. This is partly due to my aversion of romantically focused books, and also to the fact that if I hear that there’s a bad love triangle in a book, I probably won’t read it.

The love triangles that I absolutely cannot stand are the ones in which a character is pining after someone while they are still in a relationship! No! I don’t like cheating! I don’t care if you ship character a more with character c than with character b, cheating is a no-no. Also, how obnoxious is it for a character to have two love interests?

Love triangles that exist solely to bring across the fact that the character is bisexual? No thank you. It’s unnecessary, and I personally feel like it ruins the rep a little bit? I recently read a book where the MC’s love interest was EVERY OTHER CHARACTER IN THE BOOK, and this was just to prove that he was pansexual!

Love triangles that I do condone are the ones where the second love interest is introduced after it’s made clear that the original love interest is a no-go. Is this technically a love triangle? Probably not, but it’s all that I’ll put up with.

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Insta-Love

One reason I’m not a fan of this particular trope is because I do tend to favor slow burn romances. I like love-to-hate tropes and all the sort of “it took us work to get here” sort of stuff. The reason that I like slow-burn is the same reason that I can’t stand insta-love.

I just feel that realistically, romances and relationships are things that people have to work for. There’s no absolute love at first sight. Sure there may be a, wow I really would love to be in a relationship with someone, at first sight. But there’s no automatic deep undying love that comes with awkwardly bumping into someone at a coffee shop.

Characters when they think they know what love is but they’re actually children with no concept

I like seeing a relationship develop, so I hate it when it just jumps to the drunk in love phase. The romance feels fake and forced and very very annoying. Once again I want to shake the characters and yell things like, you don’t even know each other! She could be an ax murderer for all you know! People don’t do this sort of thing in real life! Of course, the characters would never hear me, so I’m just left to stew with my frustration.

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That’s it for now! Maybe another time I’ll do a list of tropes I can’t get enough of so that you can all judge me and my taste in books.

What tropes do you hate? Do you read any books with tropes in them?

29 thoughts on “Thank you, next. Tropes I Can’t Stand.

  1. A few years ago, I saw Gayle Forman on a panel, where she stated how much she loved ALL the tropes, and I guess I sort of agree with her. I think my enjoyment of any trope is how well it is executed. I generally hate when love triangles involve siblings, but I have read books, where the author did a good job with it and providing enough justification and closure, that I was ok with it.

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    1. I could not agree more! I think my issue is that I’ve been burned multiple times by these tropes, but I honestly have had experiences where I *really* enjoyed them. It really does all depend on the talent and execution of the author. I think it’s especially hard for authors though when their books get compared to popular books of vaguely similar plots. At this point, I see people complain about dystopian books being a trope, but authors have been writing masterful dystopians since Yevgeni Zamyatin, so I really don’t find those sort of “tropes” problematic.

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  2. This is such a great post, I love reading about tropes 😀
    I have to say that I’m not a fan of the miscommunication either, sometimes it just makes me want to scream and throw the book out the window, but also… sometimes, I kind of understand where it comes from and how realistic it can be, too, because in real life, well this tends to happen and it’s also so frustrating, but… well, I can understand, I guess. Still, it’s SO frustrating to read about haha.
    I’m not a fan of the love triangles either and insta-love (though I do understand instant attraction, because this happens a whole lot and can happen and feels more realistic, but… this needs to be stated more clearly in books, attraction isn’t the same thing as love haha);
    Fantastic post 🙂

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    1. Thank you! 💕

      Honestly, I think that’s what makes the miscommunication trope all the more frustrating. In general, I’m a big fan of avoidance when it comes to communication, especially with texting 😂 If I see a WhatsApp message I don’t want to answer I’ll just avoid having it marked as seen so that I won’t have to respond and then obviously the message will magically disappear. It’s just so much easier to assume that communicating in a clear way can be easy when realistically I know that it’s not.

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  3. This is such a great post. I never realised miscommunication fell under a trope but god do I hate it, if only people had the ability to talk! Love triangles are the worst. The trope that I dislike the most is the I’m-not-like-other-girls trope

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    1. Oooh, that trope is the worst! I mean, I do happen to enjoy the good old chosen one trope, but I don’t like the “not-like-other-girls” trope that often demeans other girls, especially the kind that’s so in your face about how different and unique the character is 🙄

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  4. LOL yes to the miscommunication bit! I think a lot of YA books have this trope xD I think it can be relevant to teens and even new adults (to be fair, probably to a lot of older people too..) but… it’s also so much drama where it could be avoided so easily.

    And I also dislike love triangles. They’re just too stressful and argh. Someone is always “not good enough” or something stupid like that. And I also hate insta love cause WHYYYYY xD

    Great post!

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    1. Thank you! Yeah, my main reason for not liking the miscommunication trope is because I just can’t handle the drama. And there’s always drama with miscommunication. It’s sort of the same for how I can’t handle second-hand embarrassment in comedy movies. I just DIE the second someone messes up publically or gets humiliated 🙈

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  5. I’m a big fan of the slow burn, but I also love it when one partner is insta-love and the other is all, “WHOA, Nelly” and takes a while to get there. But I’m totally with you on loathing love triangles, and cheating is just gross.

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    1. Omg, yes! One insta-love while the other is just not having it, is perfection. I think that in its own way, that’s sort of slow-burn as well. And yes, love-triangles are just not for me. I think it’s also because I don’t like being confused about who to ship? Like I want to have a clear ship and just STICK WITH IT. Love triangles mess up all that certainty 😪

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  6. I actually get. Really stressed. When a book revolves around a miscommunication. Everything is falling apart, Character A now hates Character B and it’s just because of one misheard sentence or incorrectly phrased line. Please nooo. Just talk it out.

    Can any trope be done well? Yes. But that’s not taking into account each writer’s skill and the reason the trope is used. And no entire book should be a trope unless you plan on writing fluff. (which is fine, just own that it’s fluff)

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    1. I’m the exact same way! It stresses me out so much, and I just want to force the characters to talk it out, and make everything magically better 😂

      And I agree, tropes *can* be done well. I think that we probably get burned by the tropes that aren’t done well and end up having certain stigmas against them.

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  7. GAH YES YES the miscommunication trope is complete garbage like, 99% of the time. There was a book I just read (I can’t remember off the top of my head, but I wrote it down somewhere ha) that the miscommunication trope made sense and I was shocked! I also LOATHE insta-love. The worst! Because it’s not realistic at all! I *can* handle a love triangle, but only if it’s done well and feels authentic to the story.

    One trope I REALLY hate is the “talks to dead musicians” and also “The Nirvana Trope”. The dead musicians one is self explanatory, but the Nirvana one is when a character is in a book NOT set in 1994 and they are creepy obsessed with Nirvana and/or Kurt Cobain and it’s like, okay author, I understand you’re 43 and trying to relive some sort of high school hero complex but… NO. Like- even friends I have who are in their mid-late twenties don’t know who he/they are, so I really doubt that many 16 year olds are obsessed. #EndRant 😂

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    1. 😂😂 OMG, I had no clue there was a name for that trope (The Nirvana Trope), but it is the absolute WORST. I also feel authors use it a lot as a way of lazy characterization? Like oh, I don’t need to develope this character, because this whole characters character is that they like obscure 80’s rock.

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  8. Miscommunication ones always drive me nuts. I haven’t read one where it makes sense. I can handle love triangles, but I don’t really lean towards reading to those because I personally feel bad for the characters. I know that they’re not real, I just feel bad lol.

    I’m also over not-like-the-other-girls because the heroine doesn’t wear make up or likes something “boyish”. It makes me roll my eyes hard. Like a girl can wear make up and like sports for crying out loud. I’m sure there’s more that I hate but I can’t think of.

    Tina @ As Told By Tina

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    1. Ugh the not-like-other-girls one, annoys me SO much! Besides for the fact that it’s making it seem that liking make up and “girly” stuff is bad, it also just makes me dislike the main character. Because what kind of person is so stuck up that they’re like, “Oh, *I’m* different, and everyone else is beneath me.”

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    1. Thank you! I definitely see other tropes mentioned more often, like dystopian, the chosen one, and love-triangles, but miscommunication is the one that gets on my nerves *so much*! Even if it’s a good book, where miscommunication isn’t the whole plot it’s still hard for me to read it.

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  9. I am 100% on board with these! Miscommunication can be SO cringey, especially when it drags out an otherwise mediocre plot. One of my turn-offs is dual first-person narration. If the character-name-as-chapter-heading is the only clue that I’m reading from a different person’s perspective, the author has done something wrong.

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    1. Ugh first person dual narration is so frustrating some times! Especially when it doesn’t alternate systemically. Like if it alternates one chapter after another normally, then I usually get used to it, but if it’s sporadic I have noooo clue what’s going on 😅

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