Bookish Discussion · Books

Are book tropes a bad thing?

If you’re an avid reader, of any genre really, you may notice that after a certain number of books, a lot of them seem to be very similar. Whether it’s in the concept of the story of the qualities of the characters, you get a bit of deja vu and feel like you’ve read this before… In a few minutes you remember, “Hey! This happened in this other book I read!” and from then on you start comparing both the books or predicting how this one will go.

are-book-tropes-a-bad-thing

In literature, a trope is a familiar and repeated symbol, meme, theme, motif, style, character or thing that permeates a particular type of literature. They are usually tied heavily to genre.

Every genre has it’s own set of tropes but since I read mainly Young Adult contemporary and fantasy, I can tell you some of the tropes that I have seen floating around in these two genres –

  • “I know we just met three seconds ago but I love you” aka insta love
  • “I hate you I love you I hate that I love you let’s get married” aka enemies to lovers
  • “He’s so hot. No, he’s so hot. I don’t know who to pick!” (picks original choice so what was even the point? *cough* Twilight *cough*) aka love triangles (or any other shape tbh – looking at you, Throne of Glass)
  • Really powerful government gets taken down by a bunch of teenagers
  • so many more!

There are some tropes that I really enjoy and others that I cannot stand. Today, however, I want to talk about whether tropes in books are a good thing or not.

Pros

  • If you’re in a reading slump, and want to read a book like something you’ve read before, just pick out another one with the same tropes and you’ll probably enjoy it!
  • Though a certain trope may be present in several books, it’s interesting to see how different authors use them to advance their story lines.
  • It’s easy to recommend books to people if you know they like a book which had such and such trope exists.
  • When you’re just getting into a genre, you want to discover all the things that can happen in those type of books and knowing the various tropes in a genre gives you an idea of what you can expect from a genre.

Cons

  •  You may read a few books with a certain trope and completely give up on a genre because you think that’s all it has to offer and in the process, miss out on a lot of great books.
  • It gets repetitive! Once you’ve read enough books where x things happen, books start getting predictable. There is no more wow factor or anything that will leave you shocked.
  • After a certain point, it becomes boring. Even if an author uses the trope in a different way, you’ve already seen that happening multiple times so you have a vague idea about what’s to come.

There are thousands and thousands of books in the world and all of them cannot obviously be original, there will definitely be some resemblance here and there. There are both pros and cons to tropes in books but I think the main con is that books become boring and predictable. When that happens, I guess we should just take a break from the genre and explore other books and come back when we crave our old beloved tropes again.


lets-chat

This ended up being a much shorter discussion than I expected because I realised there isn’t much to say on the topic. But I want to know what do you think? Do you enjoy tropes in literature? What are your favourite tropes?

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2 thoughts on “Are book tropes a bad thing?

  1. As a writer, I don’t think that tropes are bad — or that they’re avoidable, really. The existence of a genre carries with it expectations, which are often in the form of tropes. I would argue that the tropes can be the same, but that a good writer owns them and makes them individual. It’s even fantastic when the tropes are averted or lampshaded. Clichés are the ones to avoid, in my opinion.

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  2. I don’t think tropes are bad or anything. With thousands of books being published every year, there are bound to be similar storylines and similarities in books. But what gives a book a personal touch or a different meaning is how the author handles the trope and makes the book unique.
    Mostly when I talk about tropes I hate, I don’t mean that the trope itself is bad, just that most authors handle the trope in a very generic and clichéd way. For eg – the love triangle trope. I know everyone hates it – but when it is done right, it’s SO good to read. I’ve read very few books where the author handles a love triangle accurately but sometimes some books portray them really well – so? It’s not the trope’s fault, it’s pretty much how the author has written it.

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