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

5 ripostes:

  1. The banter point is an ESPECIALLY good one. In revising Dark is the Night I've cut out almost 10K (10K!!) of excess, unnecessary banter that was there Just Because It Could Be. (Of course there's still loads of banter this is me and banter is important but hopefully the reader's eyes won't glaze over now)

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  2. Oh, the love triangles. I'm sorry, but if this happened in real life I would distrust everyone involved because of being opportunistic flirts (or worse) or indecisive flakes, and in books I'm still mad (hello Katniss from HG and America and everyone from the abominable Selection series).

    Banter and bickering. In other words, to cover a lack of intelligent description, conversation, etc. To pretend to have an adorable love-hate relationship (in reality a puke-gag one).

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  3. I have always, do, and will always, hate banter with the fiery passion of a thousand suns going super nova all at once. It's soooooo childish and irritating.
    As for love triangles ... blech. And if you you fall for the second person, maybe step back and wait to see if it's just hormones? amiright? You're falling left and right for every cute guy, maybe you just aren't mature enough to handle a relationship yet.

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  4. The bantering/bickering one is a hard one for me, because I actually have relationships like that in real life. There are people in my life with whom I have deep and meaningful relationships, but we can't stay serious or refrain from teasing each other for longer than 5 minutes at a time. In fact, when I step back and look at some of the dialogue I've written based on real life, I think that it looks unrealistic BECAUSE there is so much banter involved. So, I dunno. I think it's a balance. For me, banter is to dialogue what salt is too food. None at all, and it's too bland, too much, and no-one can stomach it. The trick is finding just the right balance that works for your story.

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  5. Janie - "The trick is finding the right balance that works for your story." And that's it, folks. XD The key to anything is balance, but there's no formula for you to use - you have to rely on your gut.

    I hazard to guess that the reason your real-life-inspired banter looks unrealistic is because your story isn't real life - it's a story, with parameters and a point and a deadline. In life, banter is part of the plot; but in stories, there isn't much room for extraneous dialogue.

    Laura Elizabeth - Realistically. Really. How many boys are there worth falling in love with? XD

    Livia Rachelle - Puke-gag. I love it. XD

    Mirriam -TEN THOUSAND WORDS. HER BANTER QUOTA IS //NOTHING// TO BINGLEY'S.

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