My Top 3 Favourite & Least Favourite Tropes

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Hello everyone!

How are you guys doing? I am enjoying some time off from work this week (yay!) and starting to feel the time crunch for Camp Nanowrimo. I have 6 days to write 8K words (bring it on!!!)

Today I want to tell you guys about my favourite literary tropes and my pet peeves!

Favourite tropes

Friends to Lovers

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This is a trope where two people begin as friends and then discover that there is something more. Alternatively, one (or both friends) had secret feelings for the other to begin with. There is something about this type of slow-burning romance that I love!

Examples: Monty and Percy (Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue), Ron and Hermione (Harry Potter), Emmy and Oliver (Emmy & Oliver), Penny and Sam (Emergency Contact)

Enemies to Lovers

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My other favourite type of slow-burning romance is the enemies to lovers trope! This is when two people begin as enemies or blatantly opposite in personality and interests, however begin to develop feelings towards each other throughout the novel.

Examples: Simon and Baz (Carry On), Damen and Laurent (The Captive Prince)

Collage_Fotor.jpgThe Love Triangle

giphy-downsizedAs you know, love triangles occur when a character has to choose between two suitors who are both desirable. Love triangles get a bad rap! A lot of people dislike love triangles or find them annoying. I think love triangles can be done well if all the characters involved are well-developed, relatable and likeable. If done well, they can keep us in suspense: who will he or she choose? If I genuinely care about the characters and if I truly cannot predict the pairing at the end, then that is a sign of a good love triangle in my opinion.

Example: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before15749186

 

Least Favourite Tropes

Mr. or Miss Flawless

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This is that character who is beautiful and intelligent and kind and popular and flawless in every way.

This is THE pet peeve that is guaranteed to make me roll my eyes and/or put down the book! No one is perfect, so a flawless character is unrealistic and difficult to relate to. It is essential for a character to have flaws. Contrary to what one might think, I find that a flawed character is even more relatable and likeable. If a character is exceptionally beautiful and have an impeccable figure, maybe they are vain and entitled because of their beauty? If a character is soft-hearted and good-willed, maybe they are bad at telling the truth? If a character is highly intelligent, maybe they lack interpersonal skills?

Example: the glittering vampire (Twilight)

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The Child Genius

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This is the character in their late teens or early 20s whose intelligence and/or skills exceed that of their peers. They attempt a challenge that many adults fail at, that’s just child’s play for them. They are likely nationally/internationally known for their talents, and adults call on them for their help.

I don’t know, call me jaded, but people in their early twenties usually don’t own companies or are multimillionaires? I mean, I didn’t get out of university until I was 24, and even after graduation, I started off at the bottom of the corporate food chain (and expecting to remain there for the next 10 years…. lol.) Don’t get me wrong, there are talented and skilled kids out there, but this can be exaggerated in books.

Examples: Hideo (Warcross), Kvothe (The Name of the Wind), the kids (Illuminae)

(As much as I actually love these books, they do give me a bit of that child genius vibe.)

That Character who is Beautiful but Does not Know it

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This is the character (usually female) who does not have a clue that she is beautiful, only to discover that (gasp) for some reason everyone falls in love with her beauty!

There is so many things wrong with this trope. First of all, if a character is absolutely beautiful, she MUST have a character flaw (see above). Secondly, feel free to correct me but after day care and kindergarten and grade school and high school…….. we get a pretty good sense of how our appearance is perceived by others. I think that creating this sort of character who is both beautiful and oblivious to her beauty is an author’s attempt to not have this character come off as vain. A person/character can be beautiful and be a good person, I’m just saying that realistically, if you’re beautiful you’ll know it.

Example: I’m looking at you Bella Swan!!!

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What are your favourite and least favourite tropes? What do you think about love triangles?

43 thoughts on “My Top 3 Favourite & Least Favourite Tropes

  1. meandinkblog says:

    Good luck with your writing and enjoy your days off from work.
    I was saying yes to all of your points, I love slow burning relationships as well, you can see the relationship grow gradually and it is definitely my favourite whether friends to lovers or enemies to lovers. I think love triangles can be done well too and throughly enjoy them when they are. Great post!! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Never Not Reading says:

    Ooo, I hate the girl is secretly beautiful thing too! That was one of my biggest eye-rolls on Caraval. In general I don’t understand why authors (especially YA authors) need everyone to be pretty anyway. Can we not have someone really and actually ugly?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      I absolutely agree! I am all for characters who are just your everyday people. Why do the main characters always have to be beautiful? The average looking person can have an amazing story as well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Marie says:

    Oh I love this post so much, Sophie and these are great choices of tropes! I am a huge fan of the friends to lover trope, it’s my ultimate favorite one after the childhood friends trope haha. It’s just so adorable and slow-burning and my heart loves it so much. same goes for enemies to lovers, I love the development in that one. This makes me think, I can’t recall if you’ve read To Kill a Kingdom? It has such a great enemies to lovers romance, it was fantastic 😀
    I hope you’ll enjoy your days off 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sieran Lane says:

    I love this post!!! Wow I have both agreements and disagreements with you in terms of my own likes and dislikes, haha. 😁

    Like you, I adore slow-burn stuff and woo friends-to-lovers and enemies-to-lovers!! Though oddly, I find myself writing fewer friends-to-lovers types nowadays, maybe because I’m influenced by the gay romances I read, where many start off as strangers rather than as friends.

    Lol, I’m not too fond of love triangles. They often make me too sad! Though sometimes they can be funny. There are many books I loved that involved love triangles, though, including many of the Chinese martial arts stories I read.

    Haha, yes, I find that many readers detest perfect characters nowadays! I actually don’t mind them, maybe because I read a lot of books where such perfect people are the norm? The Chinese martial arts stories have plenty of these characters, and I just got used to them. Many characters in literary classics are also pretty perfect, but I love them anyway, like Agnes from David Copperfield— she is such an angel!! ^_^ I think Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird is flawless too, though some may disagree with me.

    Oh on Twilight, I cannot resist expressing my unpopular opinions here, haha. I actually like Twilight, partly because I love the close friendship between Jacob and Bella. Jacob is my favorite character. In addition, I adore how loving and supportive the Cullen family members are towards each other! It’s quite touching to me, since, sadly, happy families don’t seem that common in real life. 😦 I wish my family were like the Cullen’s! They’re so kind and understanding towards each other!

    I thought Bella and Edward’s romance was okay. I didn’t take it very seriously, but I found it entertaining, haha. And I love how each book was partially based on a literary classic. Twilight was on Pride and Prejudice, New Moon on Romeo and Juliet, Eclipse on Wuthering Heights, and Breaking Dawn on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Merchant of Venice. I unfortunately have not read The Merchant of Venice yet, but it was pretty cool to see these inspirations because I enjoyed these literary works. Well, okay, Romeo and Juliet less so, but I still enjoyed Shakespeare’s language.

    Another thing I can’t resist mentioning, lol, is that I know a lot of readers hate how Edward is so crazy beautiful, and that Bella keeps admiring his looks in her head. One reader even complained about the compliments to Edward’s breath. Haha, in a way, I can understand this perspective. However, in the Chinese martial arts stories and just in Chinese literature in general, it is the norm to constantly praise the girls’ beauty. It’s as if there’s a rule that you must compliment every part of her, like her onion pale fingers, her snowy skin, her pearly teeth, her graceful thin hands, her starry or moon-like eyes, her willow-like eyebrows, etc. There are actually set phrases that praise her delicate panting and her aromatic sweat!!! So, the praise of Edward in Twilight is NOTHING compared to what is commonly done in Chinese fiction with beautiful girls, lol.

    There also seems to be a greater social acceptance for lavishly praising a woman’s beauty, and less acceptance of such rabid praise of a guy’s looks. Yet, I’ve seen Chinese authors compliment a guy’s handsomeness to the skies as well. So all this focus on aesthetic beauty, is really normal and expected in Chinese literature. In fact, in one of the “Four Big Chinese Classics,” the Dream of the Red Chamber, there is also this relentless elaboration on the girls’ and the main guy’s physical beauty. So you can see why I’m not bothered by Twilight at all. XD

    Wow I wrote another essay, LOL. But it was fun talking about this topic!

    Oh man, I LOVE the child genius trope! 😂😂😂 I mean, yes, I know these characters are very unlikely in real life, but they are so fun to read about. And as a reader, I think I’m more interested in entertainment than in realism. 🤣 Artemis Fowl is one example of such a child genius and I love him, haha. Matilda by Roald Dahl features a genius little girl who is a very engaging character (imo) as well.

    Haha, I also quite enjoy the “Not Knowing They’re Beautiful” trope. I didn’t get that many compliments in high school and prior. YET, I suddenly got many more compliments since entering university…which is interesting. Even after transitioning to a more masculine look, some people have called me cute/ adorable, and people strangely look at me and treat me like this endearing little kid who needs to be treasured. (Which is very odd because I actually feel very old inside.) My dad criticized my physical appearance back in secondary school, and I tended to believe my dad, so I just accepted that as the truth. And thus I was very surprised when I got a lot more positive feedback in university and afterwards. Beauty is also subjective, after all. (Interestingly, a friend told me that I was “nice-looking” and didn’t need to take testosterone. But I took testosterone anyway. 😂 As one trans guy friend said, it’s not just about beauty. I would say: it’s not just about looking good. It’s about looking right too!)

    Generally, I was not that self-aware before university life, partly because I was so single-mindedly obsessed with getting good grades, fixating on “external accomplishments,” so to speak, that I didn’t really care about anything else. It’s one reason why I didn’t even realize that I got my gender wrong until somewhere in my twenties. XD

    So some people can be oblivious to how they look to others even in high school. Though maybe they’re in the minority, I don’t know. I’m often in the minority in things. 😊

    Anyhow, thanks for writing this post and giving us the chance to have a fun and detailed discussion about tropes!! My comment is probably too long already, but I can list a few of my favorite tropes:

    —the heroes need to infiltrate a villainous organization

    —the hero unwittingly befriends the villain without realizing who they are.

    —the nasty villain turns out to have a sympathetic backstory or has redeeming qualities

    —your enemy turns into a friend

    —your friend turns into an enemy

    — We all thought that X was true. But actually, X is false, and thus, everyone’s world is turned upside down.

    —-your enemy gives you the most wonderful compliment you have ever heard. (Usually on some personality trait, skill, or some other quality).

    —-you and your enemy still hate each other, but they save your life (or vice versa), and because of this incident, you don’t know how to feel towards this person anymore.

    —that mysterious and fabulous ally who swoops in to save the hero’s life at the last minute

    I could go on, but I think I should stop writing this long comment now, haha.

    Like

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hello Sieran!

      Haha I love your long comments which always get me thinking. It is interesting that you mention this difference between Chinese and Western books. I read a few Chinese books a long time ago, but I do remember what you mean. Characters are often beautiful and perfect in their personality and their appearance. You are right that Western books often don’t describe characters in this way! I also noticed in the Chinese dramas that I watched before that characters are often beautiful (that is even true in Western dramas) and flawless in their personalities as well. It is interesting that there is this difference between Chinese and Western storytelling styles.

      I did not realize that each book of Twilight is based on a literary classic. It’s been a while and maybe I would appreciate this more if I reread this series haha :’)

      I think you are right that beauty is subjective. It is not only about how we physically look but also about how we carry ourselves. People say that when we are confident, we also appear more beautiful, right? You do bring up a good point that a person/character can be unaware of their appearance or just not care much about it. I guess you convinced me that it is possible to not see our own beauty haha 🙂

      I was super focused on getting good grades in high school too (Asian parents!)

      I love this list that you came up with! I really enjoy some of these tropes as well, especially the friend becoming an enemy, and the heroes uncovering a conspiracy that changes their perspective of the world haha. These were in my last novel 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sieran Lane says:

        Hey on the beauty thing, I’ve been thinking: It’s like an unspoken rule that romance heroes have to be physically attractive, right? At least they have to look good to each other. There are some rebellious books who have “plain” heroes, like Jane Eyre, but these seem to be in the minority.

        In one story I wrote, I deliberately made fun of this “all romance heroes must be gorgeous” trope. For many of my characters, I showed how different people had very different opinions on their looks. XD For instance, the dad thinks his prospective son-in-law is super handsome, but the mom thinks he is plain. LOL. Well, jokes and teasing aside, I think it’s realistic that people will disagree, sometimes vehemently, about somebody’s looks. Books often make it seem like looks are objective rather than subjective, which is unrealistic, but I guess they are just trying to please the reader. I mean, even I like to fantasize about pretty boys, lol! (I was more interested in fantasizing about pretty girls when I was younger. But I became much more interested in thinking about handsome boys as I grew older. Don’t know why. It has nothing to do with my sexual orientation, though, since I’ve always been primarily androphilic.)

        There are books that are more ambiguous in their approach, like not describing a hero as really beautiful in general, but talking about what I call “conditional beauty”. For instance, we usually don’t get any descriptions of this hero’s attractiveness, but he suddenly appears very dashing in this attire. Or he looks gorgeous when he gives you one of his rare sincere smiles.

        Some authors explicitly say that a character is NOT beautiful, only to show later that many characters find them very pretty. (Like with Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind.). Some other authors say that the character is not beautiful in a classical or conventional way, yet they are still stunning in a different way. For example, for Eugénie Grandet, the author said that Eugénie is not pretty in the traditional sense, but she is beautiful in the sense that an artist would love to draw her.

        In my latest stories, I haven’t done much playing around with the subjectivity of beauty, especially as I’m writing in my characters’ very biased first person perspective anyway. But I have a character where no one really comments on his looks, except for his love interest, who finds him very attractive. There’s another character who puts off a lot of people, due to the dark aura he projects (mostly because of his species!!). However, his love interest thinks he is the hottest guy he has ever seen. So yay, the subjectivity of beauty!

        Like

  5. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Oh nearly all your favourite tropes are my favourites as well Sophie. The only one I’m not a fan of is love triangles. I guess in practise they can work well in books but I’ve only ever read one series where it has worked well. I LOVE friends and enemies to lovers, and actually you’ve picked my favourite books for these tropes too. Carry On is one of those books I’ll always come back to when I’m feeling down or have nothing else I want to read (I’ve probably re-read it more than any other book I own!)
    I definitely hate the ‘character who doesn’t know they’re beautiful’ trope. Sometimes I feel like it’s everywhere in the YA genre but I’m probably just thinking of the books I read while I was in high school (around the time Twilight was released so you know what influenced that!)
    Great post, as always. 🙂 ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hello Beth ❤
      I remember you writing about love triangles before I think. I agree that not all books pull it off and sometimes it leaves me feeling annoyed as well. However I do like it when love triangles are done well 🙂
      Glad that you also like friend and enemies to lovers tropes! I loved Carry On, which was a book that I couldn't put down. I'll have to re-read it in the future as well 🙂
      Haha yes, I feel like often in YA a character doesn't know she is beautiful until she attracts the attention of a love interest. On the other hand sometimes I give them the benefit of the doubt, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder right? A person can be seen as very plain by most people but beautiful by one person. It is when everyone falls head over heels over this character when I start rolling my eyes haha 🙂
      Thank you Beth!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        I’ve written about them a few times that’s for sure. 🙂 Yeah the series I read with a love triangle that was done well is a favourite mine, it’s just too often they’re not done well.
        I feel like you’ll find it’s a book you’ll re-read loads like I have! 😀
        Yeah that I don’t mind so much, it’s just in the case of characters like Bella when it seems like every single person she meets falls in love with her and she’s constantly saying how plain she is, after a while it’s that that gets in your nerves isn’t it?
        That’s all right! 🙂 ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Yeah it’s annoying when every other character falls in love with the MC haha. It is unrealistic because realistically people have different tastes :’)
        I think I would actually prefer an attractive character who is obnoxious about it (like Monty from the Gentlemen’s Guide)!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. MichaelK says:

    I completely agree with you on the least favourite ones. I haven’t given much thought on what I love but certainly one of my pet peeves is the character that is forced by necessity to act as he or she does. And love triangles are quite interesting as long as the story isn’t just about them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hi Michael. Do you mean when characters make a choice that doesn’t make sense based on their personality for the sake of advancing the plot? Yes it is frustrating when I don’t understand a character’s actions!
      I also prefer it when the love triangle isn’t too central to the plot 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • MichaelK says:

        This is indeed very frustrating too! But I love characters that conciously act contrary to theirs beliefs etc not just to promote the plot but because they are forced to.

        Like

  7. Carolina @fictionologyst says:

    LOLOL we have the same trope types!! I love friend/enemy to lover and love triangle so much. I dont know why most people despise love triangle so much, I think it’s so great to read about how the characters developed!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. tasya @ the literary huntress says:

    I love enemies to lovers and friends to lovers, so any book that combined those tropes is a win for me already! I hate the “i’m not pretty but oh wait i’m sTUNNING”…. um no. Especially if the said character keep describing her physical traits as a reminder every few paragraphs (I curled my brown hair… I put my hair into a ponytail… He plays with my long hair…)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jayati says:

    I agree with you on so many things but love triangles are quite contradictory for me. While I love the one in To all the boys I’ve loved before, I despise the one in The Infernal Devices. What about you?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lois says:

    The friends to lovers romance are the cutest trope. I love seeing the progression of those relationships because I love that foundation of friendship they develop before it turns into more. I just feel like the development of the friends to lovers is so natural and you really get to see just how deeply the feelings run.
    Twilight in general is the perfect book to pinpoint all the tropes I can’t stand haha

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Glad that you like this trope as well. I also love romances that develop gradually 🙂 Haha yes I couldn’t help but use Twilight often in this post. Thank you Lois!

      Like

  11. Zoie says:

    Yes! Those kinds of slow-burn romances are the absolute best! 😆 There’s something so entertaining and sweet about stories with the Friends to Lovers and Enemies to Lovers trope — they just sweep me away and totally steal my heart 😊 And I think another example of a well-done love triangle is Kiera Cass’s The Selection series — so many people dislike the book because of the romance, but I actually think the character relationships are brilliantly developed, and the love triangle adds the perfect amount of spice to the story. Have you read the series before?

    Anyways, this was a really fun post! I enjoyed reading it! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hi Zoie 🙂 Glad that you’re a fan of these types of romances as well! I have heard of The Selection series though I haven’t had the chance to read it. It does sound like an interesting premise!
      Thank you Zoie ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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