Why I Love Tropes

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First of all, before we get into why I love tropes, we should probably define what a trope is, exactly. When it comes to literature, a trope is something that’s common or reoccurring that happens a lot in stories, so much that it becomes known as A Thing.

Different genres often utilize different tropes. For example some popular Fantasy tropes are The Chosen One, The Dark Lord, and Quests. The Reluctant Hero might be popular in Fantasy but it’s also used a lot in Westerns, and Science Fiction and all kinds of other stories. You also have really specific tropes like some Romance tropes–Enemies to Lovers is a bit broader but There is Only One Bed is a pretty specific trope.

A lot of tropes go back a loooong ways–even stories from a couple thousand years ago have things you might recognize from stories written today. If you break stories down to their basic things you can find these commonalities within them.

Sometimes in a review I might refer to something as ‘trope-y’ or maybe even ‘trope-tastic’ and that usually means it is utilizing a lot of common tropes. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing though! Tropes can be fun! Sometimes people complain if something relies on tropes too much, but like any thing in writing a trope can be a great thing or a bad thing–it all depends on how it’s used within the larger story. A story can still feel fresh even if it’s using an ‘overused’ trope.

One of the reasons I love Tropes is that they can be good shorthand for something in a book I might like or dislike. For instance, outside of Fantasy I read a lot of Romance. (Well, even within Fantasy I read a lot of stories that have romance in them…)Β  Like I said earlier, Romance tropes can get super specific! If someone tells me a story has Enemies to Lovers, I am going to be alllll over that. Fake Relationship (aka Fake Dating), Forbidden Love, Marriage of Convenience–I love all of these. If I know a story has one of the above then I might be more inclined to check it out. You may be looking for that sense of familiarity in a story and knowing it employs certain tropes can help with that.

Conversely, there’s a thing called ‘inverting tropes’ and this is employing the opposite of a trope, or doing what’s not expected. I’ll give you an example of a book that does both of these really well! Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis employs tropes in both familiar and unexpected ways. This book has a lovely Second Chance Romance in it with everything you’d expect along with that. However, in her world the gender roles are not the same as our own. So even though it’s a sort of Regency period equivalent, having it be an alternate history lets her play with the idea of gender and what our expectations are for men and women. In a typical historical romance you’re dealing with a man compromising a woman and the woman being ruined while men get none of the blame in the situation. Here, all of that is reversed. So the power dynamics in the relationship are opposite from what they normally are, but it’s still very much a Second Chance Romance. I love the way this works out here! Tropes can be fun for the expected, but also when they’re utilized to do something completely opposite from what you’re used to!

One of my favorite tropes in Fantasy is the Ban on Magic trope. This is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s when magic is banned. Usually stories like this will be about showing how magic can be a good thing and that just because something can do harm doesn’t mean it’s all bad? But also it could be about other things too. Sometimes there’s just a partial ban on certain kinds of magic and sometimes it’s all magic. Having a trope like this can create some conflict right off the bat if our characters get involved in something that’s forbidden!

Anyway, that’s not to say that all tropes are amazing. Just because I love tropes in general doesn’t mean there aren’t a few that could probably do with being retired. But that’s a whole other discussion. πŸ˜‰Β  Do you like tropes? What are some of your favorites? Leave a note in the comments, I’d love to chat!

28 thoughts on “Why I Love Tropes

  1. vee_bookish says:

    Magic Is Banned is my least favourite trope πŸ™ˆ My favourite is enemies to lovers, especially if one of them is dark, brooding but secretly a soft cinnamon roll. πŸ˜‚

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yeah, I love enemies to loves sooooo much. (love me some cinnamon rolls as well haha)
      Magic is banned can be good if done well but I really think it’s overused. πŸ™‚

  2. Tammy says:

    I do love the enemies to lovers trope, even though it’s sort of overdone. The bottom line is how well the author uses the trope and did it feel natural. There’s nothing worse than a trope that feels shoehorned in!

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yes, exactly! Any trope can be good or bad, it all depends on how the author writes it.

      Although…I keep waiting for an author to make me enjoy the reincarnation trope–I don’t think it’s happened yet hahaha. πŸ™‚

  3. Realms of My Mind says:

    Tropes can be good comfort food! The same way you rewatch a TV show because you know what’s coming, picking up something you know is going to use a familiar trope is soothing. You’re just waiting for specific beats to land and it’s so satisfying when they do.

    It sometimes comes down to my mood as much as the writing. Just as I sometimes need the comfort food, some times I’m looking for something fresh and so reading about another Chosen One or a Love Triangle can make me sigh in annoyance.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yes, exactly, I agree with all of this. Sometimes you want that familiarity and sometimes you want something fresh feeling. I think that’s why tropes can be such a good thing as they can be a shorthand for readers and what we might be in the mood for.

  4. Sammie @ The Bookwyrm's Den says:

    Love this discussion! Sure, sometimes tropes can be bad, but they have so much staying power because we love them, right? Like if I see a reluctant hero, particularly one with a bad attitude, I’m obviously definitely going to read that book. I’m also a sucker for enemies to lovers, but it has to be slow burn for me. I always see tropes as a way to sell books (literally or otherwise) to readers. Hey, you like it when X happens in books? Well, this book also has X, so you might like it! As a reader, it makes it easy to narrow down the 1905234932 books out there, too.

  5. Zezee says:

    I LOVE tropes!! πŸ˜€ Of course, there are some I don’t like but I don’t mind tropey books. My favorite trope is the chosen one story, which is probably why I tend to mostly love the sword and sorcery fantasy since the majority of them are chosen one stories.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Chosen one is a classic for sure, especially in the fantasy genre. I definitely have tropes I hate too LOL. I think if I know a trope I hate is in a book it will help set my expectations at least lol.

  6. mistysbookspace says:

    I honestly love all tropes. Yes some of them can be done badly but I don’t not read a book because it has a specific trope. The only things that I prefer not to read is cheating and lack of communication but idk if those are considered tropes and again I wouldn’t completely avoid those types of books but they will get a lower rating from me.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yeah, that makes sense. I don’t know if I’d actually avoid a book if it has a trope I don’t like but I’d probably at least be able to set my expectations lower so I’m not as disappointed lol. πŸ™‚

  7. maddalena@spaceandsorcery says:

    Tropes are like the concept of magic: they are not good or bad in themselves, it all depends on the way they are used – and the best example of this for me is the one you mentioned about the reverse trope employed by Ms. Burgis in her alternate England stories, with the gender role-reversal that gives a different spin to the tale and is often the source for some tongue-in-cheek humor… πŸ™‚

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Oh, I agree–any trope can be well written or badly written. Still, if I know a book has a trope I love in it then I’ll probably be more likely to pick it up and check it out. πŸ™‚

  8. marydrover says:

    THERE’S ONLY ONE BED!!! I will go down with this trope. I haven’t used it yet in my books (actually, in ever? I don’t think I ever wrote it into fics, this is a tragedy???), but heck, I need to, it’s so good. One of my favorite SUPER tropey books is Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene. It’s a mess, but it celebrates so many different tropes in such a fun, passionate way that I just love it anyway.

      • marydrover says:

        It’s got really purple language sometimes, and it’s just “brooding boy” on top of “enemies to friends to lovers” on top of “chosen one” on top of “special snowflake MC” on top of I don’t know SO MANY THINGS. It is kind of a mess, but you can tell the author just LOVES all the tropes so much and wanted to celebrate loving them, and it comes across as really endearing and fun.

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