Favorite Five Fantasy Tropes
I always see a lot of discussion around tropes. Whether they are good or bad or overused or which ones people like. I’m of a mind that tropes became tropes for a reason — people liked those aspects so much that they kept appearing in stories and there you have it. Like anything in a writer’s toolbox, a trope is just a tool and it really depends on how the author utilizes it. There are tropes that I love that I’ve seen done poorly, and vice versa. And it’s definitely possible to get trope fatigue as well. But, we’re here today to talk about some of my favorite tropes in the fantasy genre, so let’s get to it!
Oh gosh, I just love a good prophecy. These have been around since forever. I especially love them in Greek mythology and sagas where there’s a prophecy and someone tries to prevent it and inadvertently makes it come true–the whole ‘you can’t avoid your fate’ thing. But I also love when stories do things like ‘oh, a prophecy?’ and wonder if it’s worth worrying about because who believes in prophecies? As a recent example, I am really love with Jenn Lyons did with a prophecy in Ruin of Kings. It kind of hearkened back to the Greek way of ‘this prophecy is happening one way or another’.
- Journey / Quest
People in fantasy stories love going on quests. They also love crossing vast distances. You may think we have Tolkien to thank for that (oh, Lord of the Rings and all the endless walking), but there’s rich tradition of journey’s and quests in stories going back to ancient times as well. I mean, an odyssey is a journey and that word comes from an ancient Greek poem chronicling the journey of Odysseus. So, it’s been around and I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.
- Chosen One
‘Yer a wizard, Harry.’ Someone comes into your life and says that you’re it. You’re the one. You are special and you are needed to help change everything. I think this trope remains popular because, well, in a way it’s nice to feel needed, isn’t it? I do so love it when authors play with this trope as well. It can be a fun one to invert. I also love when we find out in Harry Potter that even though he’s The One, it also maybe could have been Neville Longbottom at one point. Also, if you want to see a chosen one that’s all ‘hell yeah I’m the chosen one’ and goes a little crazy with power….look no further than the second half of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.
- The Reluctant Hero
And as much as people love being needed, it seems like their rather reluctant to take on that role. Maybe they’re humble and try to shrug off the mantle of the chosen one. Or maybe they’re just tired of being the one that has to do everything all the time. Whatever the reason, our hero doesn’t really feel like being the hero of this story. And, honestly, fair enough man. Fair enough. I definitely wouldn’t want to be the hero, it’s too much pressure! But these types always come around and do what needs to be done in the end, and that’s to be admired, I think. 🙂
Ok, so magic isn’t necessarily a trope, but much of the Fantasy wouldn’t be Fantasy without magic. It’s probably one of the most consistent things across the genre. (There are some Fantasies with very little or no magic, they just take place in completely made up worlds so they still count as part of the genre). Whether the magic is more hand-wavy or it has a super strict system that is explained in minute detail, magic can be a lot of fun. I always tend to lie somewhere in the middle when it comes to magic systems. I like it to have consistency, and whatever that consistency is, I’m good with it. And the other thing I love about magic is that, while it can do things, it can’t solve all our hero’s problems. Otherwise there would be no story!
Those are my five picks for today! What are some of your favorite fantasy tropes? What do you think of my favorites? Leave me a note in the comments, I’d love to hear back!