This weeks Top Ten Tuesday is supposed to be all about tropes we love. The ones we read and cling on to, absoloutely adore and base our tbr on. But honestly, I don’t have that many? Call me crazy but I like the unique, the odd sprinkle of unusality and crazy turn of the unexpected. There isn’t one or two plot devices that I just think yep, I must have that.
However, because I’m a terrible person who loves a good moan, there are tropes I don’t like. Tropes I think are actively problematic and really need a rethink. Plot devices that really shouldn’t exist. So here’s an unorthodox list of those instead!
Not Like Other Girls
1 Oh gosh, isn’t this so cringe? When the love interest likes a girl and says they’re somehow different, usually meaning they’re more like a man. It’s implying that all of the female population bar one are the same and the implication is usually catty, air headed women who can’t save the day.
Strong Women Can’t be Feminine
2 Women shouldn’t have to be like men to be strong, they can enjoy makeup, flowers, pretty dresses and save the world.
He’s Different for Just Her
3 I’m sorry to break this to young, angsty teenage me but boys with big egos, dark pasts and unexpected tempers who are guarded to everyone they meet probably don’t actually make the best boyfriends. It’s a sign of a really unhealthy relationship and he’s probably just an arse glorified in YA for far too young impressionable readers.
Your First Love is Forever
4 Ok, I get it, it’s cute to ship people. We don’t want them all to sink and it’s pretty depressing reading about break ups all the time. But also most readers are going to go through a breakup? How inadequate are we going to end up feeling if the novels we’re surrounded with are screaming that the first taste of a relationship is all we’re going to get? That little spark was meant to be forever? Yeah, no, that’s not a great message to young readers guys.
Women Not Supporting Each Other
5 Too often in media are we presented with that catty group of girl friends. When the male characters are sensible, getting on with it, showing themselves to be good friends and the women are just… nowhere? Or worse sitting jealous on the sidelines. Women don’t need men to save the world and female friendships should definitely be focused on more in YA.
The Lone Wolf
6 You know those characters that have no one else in their lives but their partner, or two love triangle caught potential suitors? Where they blow off all their friends in favour of the pursuit of love but it’s a book so obviously it all works out in the end, and the relationship is all they ever needed to be fulfilled? Yeah, that’s unhealthy. And needs to go.
7 The eyes meeting across the room thing is cute. Bumping into each other in the coffee shop, corridor, while fighting a deadly monster and instantly feeling a connection? Adorable. But not love. That’s called lust, that crazy hazy bit where they fart and you’d think it was perfume, can do nothing wrong and everything is butterflies and magic. It’s when they fart, you slap them on the arm, wrinkle your nose and say they stink that’s it’s actually love and the distinction is rarely made in YA.
All Love Interests are Unimaginably Hot
8 Besides seemingly every character in YA being described as drop dead gorgeous, which is getting really old by the way, all love interests have a formula. Big pecks on men and pretty without trying women that can leave readers feeling inadequate. Protagonists of YA a man does not need abs to be considered hot and you should all stop setting this unrealistic standard that could lead to readers feeling insecure.
Everyone Needs Love
9 We got to pair off all the characters right? They’re not happy if they’re not in a relationship, are they? No. They are. They can be single. They can be happy with a handful of close friends and nice shiny sword and maybe a pet dragon if they’re lucky. Not every protagonist needs a love interests and for goodness sake stop pairing off all the side characters like it’s the one route to paradise.
Toss in a Bit of Trauma
X One day I’ll get a discussion post out about this but for now this paragraph will have to do. Don’t toss in a dark past for the sake of it. If your character isn’t going to deal with that trauma and give it proper respect you shouldn’t shove it in there for the sake of it. It can upset readers and make them feel like they should ‘just get over it’ if they have gone through something similar. If you don’t have the page time to deal with a traumatic event you’ll have to use good old fashioned prose to make us feel something for your characters.
Let’s Compare Notes
So there you have it. Ten tropes that I see cropping up time and again and just wince at. Do you agree? Think any of these are particularly damaging? Have a list of tropes you’d like to share? Drop it in the comments section.
I’ll be back Thursday with my review of Heartless by Marissa Meyer.