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Terrific and Tired Trends and Tropes in Fiction (pt 1.)
Tuesday December 11, 2012 at 12:00 am |

I feel like I’ve been flying through books the last few months of this year.  So much so that there are several I’ve read that I won’t even be doing a review for.  But I was inspired by Brie’s Christmas List of Stories, Tropes, and Characters and want to discuss all the trends and tropes I’ve noticed in fiction this year that I NEVER want to see again, and those that I would LOVE to see more of.

In this part one I will discuss the trends and tropes I find to be oh so tired, and part two will be the ones I’d like to see more of so I can end this series on a positive note!  Now, I’ve touched on a few of these trends before, but some were a just a mere mention.

Trends and Tropes that need to end IMMEDIATELY!

The Willful Damsel:

I’ve talked about this one extensively in this post!  But it really burns my buns when a female character is repeatedly told that she possesses unimaginable power, and then does absolutely nothing to try and learn how to harness and use their powers.  They are content to let the boys in their lives save them time and time again.  What and why is this?  I get the fantasizing of being rescued by a fantastical young man.  But if I have the ability to take care of and rescue myself, best believe that’s what I’m going to do.  Authors, can you please give these girls some motivation to figure out their powers and not is some cop-out miraculous way?  It just makes no sense that a character has not practiced using their powers but then miraculously obliterates the enemy with it.  STOP THIS and make these heffas learn their skills so when they overcome the enemy it’s at least halfway believable.

Examples: Meghan Chase from The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa and Clary from the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

Unprovoked Hostility:

I actually discussed this recently, but this is yet another trope that wears me out.  I have a huge problem with these female characters who are bitchy and hateful for no reason.  I understand that the author may want the readers to understand that these women are strong Alpha females who are totally kick-ass.  But making them nasty and cold towards people, particularly the men who are trying to win their affections, when they have done NOTHING for them to act that way really ticks me off.  Readers are not dumb!  You do not have to make your strong female characters hateful for us to know they are the shiznit!

Examples: Calla from the Nightshade series by Andrea Cremer and Rose from the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead and the girl whose name I can’t remember from the Across the Universe series by Beth Revis.

Lazy World Building:

This one is simple and straight forward.  If an author can’t be bothered to explain and build the world they have written, then I can’t be bothered to continue reading.  This is especially true with dystopian novels.  Dystopians requires special detail when it comes to world building because many times it is infinitely different from anything we’ve ever known.  So the fact that some authors leave you with so many unanswered questions about how their world works baffles me.  What’s the point in writing about this world, if you’re not going to totally flesh it out so the reader has no questions about how your fictional society operates?

Examples: Possession by Elana Johnson and Across the Universe by Beth Revis.

The Black Outs:

If I read one more book where the hero/heroine is just about to get into some action and then blacks out only to wake up confined and drug riddled I’m going to SCREAM!  This is just lazy writing.  The reader and the MC end up totally missing the action, and have to be told what happened to them.  This is a complete and total cop out for the author and beyond frustrating for the reader.  I get maybe using this once, but I have read books where this happens to the characters repeatedly.  Not only does it make me mad, but them waking up confined makes me anxious and claustrophobic!  This is a tired plot device and I would love for authors to stop doing this to their characters.

Examples: The Broken Heart series by Michele Bardsley and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.



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Written by Jade

Jade is a book blogger from NC. In her spare time she loves to read and build and maintain websites. She has been reading since she was four and building websites since she was 16. SortofBeautiful.com was born on March 8, 2011 and is a fantastic merging of her two favorite hobbies. Enjoy your stay!

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16 Responses to “Terrific and Tired Trends and Tropes in Fiction (pt 1.)”

  1. I agree with you on these. But I can honestly say that I never thought about the Black Out trope. Upon reflection I agree with you even more. It is a cop-out. If a writer chooses to have action in a book, then they need to allow their characters (and the reader) to participate in it. Otherwise, it isn’t real action.

    • Jade Jade says:

      YES!!! The constant black outs is crazy! No point setting the reader up for a scene that will in essence never even happen. It’s so disappointing.

  2. Ha! These are awesome. The lazy world building is exactly what I think happened in the Witches of East End. GREAT post.

  3. I love this post. Ok! So the first one The Willful Damsel: I agree and that is the reason I was not into A Discovery of Witches. Unprovoked Hostility: Agreed! Lazy World Building: Agree! That is why I loved Ready Player One so much. The details are important. The Black Outs: I never thought about this one but Mockingjay would have been better if she was there. LOL! Great post

    • Jade Jade says:

      I with you Alysia. I’m a details freak. And if you can explain or write your story in a way that I have no questions about the technical things…then you’re on point.

      And Mockingjay killed me with how many times she blacked out and woke up riddled with drugs.

  4. Great examples, and so on point! It’s so frustrating to be sucked into a book with an awesome premise and then watch it slowly fall apart due to lazy world building and a weak heroine.

    • Jade Jade says:

      You said it sister. There have been so many books that I read this year that just had phenomenal potential to be great…but one of these tropes either killed it, or made it a little less enjoyable.

  5. Brie says:

    OMG! The fade-to-black sex scenes kill me! I know that not every genre allows sex scenes, not even the mild ones, but when you have wicked sexual chemistry, and don’t actually show the moment the characters get together, there’s no way to drain that tension. It’s pure torture. That’s why I try to avoid books that seem mild in terms of sensuality. But it’s also true that sometimes a kiss can be satisfying enough. I think it’s about how talented the author is.

    Also hate lazy world-building, and world-building that makes no sense. Like the author didn’t bother to polish the story before publishing it.

    Great post, Jade!

    • Jade says:

      Brie I hadn’t even considered the fade to black sex scenes! Those are also frustrating and annoying! All the built up expectations and then you get nothing…not cool!

  6. Great post. A couple of these are big pet peeves with me. The helpless girl w ho has the power to take action is perplexing, especially in YA. I would prefer a book that screams, “You can do it!” to this reading audience.
    The unprovoked anger is a big trend too. What is up with all these angry chicks anyway. Hell, I am not even that angry and I don’t live in fiction land.

    • Jade Jade says:

      The helpless girl with the power pisses me off every time! I’m like, when is this girl going to start practicing or training? The fact that they are content to stay ignorant of how to make the most of their abilities annoys me to no end!

  7. Erin says:

    I’m glad to see someone else speak up about this. In Urban Fantasies especially the heroines usually have this massive chip on their shoulder, or else they act so bad ass its ridiculous and give unwarranted attitudes half the time. Drives me bonkers!

    • Jade Jade says:

      I don’t get why they do this. It’s aggravating to read about a woman that’s supposed to be kick ass and a do gooder, but who is so nasty and cold and rude to people. A chop on their should is the PERFECT description.

  8. […] week I discussed all the trends and tropes I was TIRED of. This week I’d like to go over the ones that I so want to see MORE of so I can end this […]

  9. I adore that you did this, Jade. SO true. And so helpful. Especially for the author-type person looking to better their craft. ;0)

    And I love The Readingista’s comment, “Hell, I am not even that angry and I don’t live in fiction land.” Heheheh… Nice!