4 Character Tropes That IMO Need to Die

If you've read books that have living, breathing people in the cast, you've probably read some of the big relationship tropes in the biz.  Tropes happen, ya know?  There are a number of patterns into which things tend to fall, & relationships are no exception.  The problem is, if you think, "Oh lookie, this is Trope X," then the trope has failed.  Nine times out of ten, tropes should NOT be so obvious that you recognize what you're seeing (exception: outrageous parodies).  Here is a personal rant enlightening post on my top most annoying relationship tropes.

4 Character Tropes That IMO Need to Die

The Geometric Affection
I. hate. love triangles. so much.  If every heroine had Elizabeth Bennet's view of matrimony, so much the better.  I mean, sure: love is a tricky thing.  What is it?  How do you know when you love someone?  How do you know when you LOVE-love someone??  Well, I don't pretend to have those answers because they are not simple answers, but I can tell you that it does not involve yo-yoing the affections of two other people.  Authors.  I am so over this.  I have seen how awkward it is to be the recipient of two people's jockeying, & it is not fun, you guys.  THIS SHOULD NOT BE NORMAL.  THIS SHOULD NEVER HAVE BECOME A TROPE.

"if you're in love two people at the same time, choose the second. because if you really loved the first one, you wouldn't have fallen for the second."
(ashamedly quoting the faceless actor)

The Engagement Ring
"Dude. I got this ring for X but I don't want her to see it before I'm ready to give it to her.  I trust you: hold on to this for me."

Oh, nO ONE KNOWS HOW THIS WILL END.  Except that we do.  We all do. Not only does this one annoy me because it's so predictable, it stresses me out at the same time because the chucklehead protagonist is TOTALLY GOING TO LOSE THE EXPENSIVE RING.  This trope.  This trope needs to be buried.  Buried + not allowed to rise from the grave so help me amen.  

The Banter
 Banter has almost zero purpose in a novel.  Almost.  Maybe one time out of ten it serves a useful purpose to help display character personality/growth/something to help sketch the individual's character, but those other nine times?  It's just irritating, childish, flimsy, pointless verbiage.  (bitter much, jenny??)  Quit with the banter thing unless the dialogue serves to improve your novel.  Why are we writing this novel?  To tell a story!  Will this help build the perfect cathedral showcasing your amazing genius?  Probably not so INTO THE SCRAP HEAP WITH YE.

The Bickering
Oh but there's more.   I. HATE. THE BICKERING.  Note: this is coming from someone who thrives on contention.  I love being angry + complaining about stuff.  (let's all enjoy this meta moment).  HOWEVER.  Bickering is the cheap, knockoff replacement for meaningful character dialogue.  Countless times, I have seen "character development" which was nothing more than two protagonists (bonus points if they're love interests) nitpicking + sniping at each other in a manner that is unrealistic + implausible.

(i kind of feel like protagonists bickering + going on to save the world is actually proof of God's existence + common grace because i can't believe the protagonists would ever survive + succeed otherwise)

Hey, you made it through my pet-peeve tropes!  I give you two challenges:

a:: avoid these tropes
b:: use these tropes but in a manner so cunning that no one realizes what you're up to

got any special tropes that annoy you?
share, please! misery loves company
xoxo, jenny

Is the Hook of a Great Novel Actually Criminal?

White Collar, Leverage, Squad 38, The Sting.  The premise of these shows/films is fundamentally illegal.  You're frowned on by the government when you lie to people + take their money, & ultimately, people hate you.  Yet the premise of these shows/films is equally crucial to pulling off the best sting in the book: the beginning.

does anybody know what "con" means?

The term "con" has floated off with its own grammatical uses: conning, for instance, which is the negative act of scamming people out of their belongings.  But remarkably, the actual term is confidenceConfidence.  & that's vital to the whole game because ordinarily people won't give you their possessions if they don't trust you.  Before you can get anything, you must first gain their confidence.

If your reader is like me, he's going to be sceptical about a new book.  The blurb on the back might pique his interest, but it's the first page that is the real clincher.  In English grammar we call it a "hook," which is telling: we're trying to snag the reader & keep him on the line for the rest of the story. But a fish doesn't like being on the hook & a painful intro won't enamour the reader to you at all.

instead of writing a hook, think of it as a confidence game

"it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife."

We all recognize this opening line (& if you don't were you born under a rock??), but look at how perfect it is!  With brevity it combines


OMNISCIENCE  |  The author doesn't just settle at saying she knows this to be true - she states it as everybody who is anybody knows this is true!  You're an absolutely dolt if you don't & none of us want to be taken as a dolt so we immediately take her at her word.

DESIRE  |  If she is in the market, what girl in her right mind would say no to a:: an unattached young man + b:: significant quantities of money?  The author casually tosses both of these gems into the first line of her novel & suddenly you want those things right now so you keep reading.

HUMOUR  |  We like funny people.  When people laugh + tell jokes, we open up to listen.  When people yell + make arguments, we close down.  Which tactic is more likely to gain confidence?  That's right.  Humour.

You are the confidence artist.  Writing is your medium.  The reader is your mark.  In a world brimming over with published works, why should the reader give you his attention?  Why should he be interested in your story?  Why does he think it will have any benefit to him?


xoxo, jenny