Monday, August 19, 2019

Top Ten Favorite Tropes in Fiction

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

Tropes are usually talked about as a bad thing, but every work of fiction makes use of at least some tropes. (Just browse TV Tropes and you'll quickly find this to be true.) Some are tiresome, but some are actually enjoyable. Here are ten that I don't mind popping up in the books I read. (You may notice some themes — I didn't want to include example titles because of how many involve plot twists!)

1. All of a character's seemingly unrelated actions suddenly come together in one brilliant plan.
You thought that Bob just had a bunch of quirky habits, but it turns out everything he's been doing all along suddenly connects together in a spectacular way!

2. The cartoonish villain who poses a real threat but ends up outwitted in the end.
See my favorite literary villains for some examples (especially #5 and #6)!

3. The "everything you thought you knew was wrong" plot twist.
This might be better described as the "Sixth Sense" plot twist, when a revelation causes you to see everything that came before in an entirely different light, but also makes perfect sense as soon as you hear it. The secret was hiding in plain sight the whole time!

4. The petty thief/spy who's part of the band of good guys but can't break old habits.
"Where did you acquire this valuable item that we happened to need right now?" "Um, it's probably better if you don't ask."

5. Someone's random, obscure talent suddenly comes in handy to save the day (or the world).
Bonus points if it's something that all of the other characters made fun of for the entire book, and now all of their lives depend on it.

6. The female character who shows up a group of men with her common sense.
This is that female leader who's reluctantly included in a men's council and ends up cutting through their crap to have the best and most logical ideas. They've been too busy trying to one-up each other to realize how convoluted their plans have gotten!

7. Slow-burn romances. All of them.
I can't stand most "love at first sight" plots. But having the first kiss come after several books in a series, during which the characters slowly become closer? Yes, please.

8. The character you forgot about or thought was minor shows up unexpectedly to save the day.
You thought that person was just comic relief or a charity case or some other small side plot near the beginning, but it turns out they're the person who's going to save our hero(es)!

9. Characters (especially friends and family members) exchange insults as a form of love.
I love a good banter, and not just as part of a romance. Sometimes you understand how close two characters are because of how they tease each other or come up with creative insults for one another.

10. The book's ending somehow circles back to a theme or a location from the book's opening.
Sometimes this can be forced, but much of the time it's poetic or clever. This can also happen over an entire series, like The Mysterious Affair at Styles and Curtain.

Based on these favorites, do you have any recommendations for me (no spoilers)?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: The Golden Compass and Ancillary Justice
Five years ago I was reading: Geek Love, Someone Knows My Name, and The Cross in the Closet
Ten years ago I was reading: Walden

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