Let’s Talk About Tropes, Baby

I’m gonna come right out and say it: cliches get a bad rap and it’s maybe unwarranted.

Humans are limited. Let’s face it. We’ve been telling the same stories since we’ve had writing. I love me some ancient Lit, and let me tell you that you’ll find the same themes in The Epic of Gilgamesh as in a lot of your current faves. It’s what we do! I think as long as a story is told in a new, fresh way, there’s merit to tropes, cliches, re-tellings.

Here are some of my favorite, and some of my not so favorite, tropes/themes/devices/plots:

Older Character Changed By Young Character

Okay my best example of this is the movie Up. I, sadly, haven’t seen it as well utilized in a novel. But I love it and I seek it out and if you know of a novel that does this well please tell me.


I don’t know why, but I love amnesia plots. I’m such a sucker for it. I think it’s because I adore an unreliable narrator, and watching my protagonist’s internal battle is just the best. My favorite example for contemporary is probably Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella, and for an AMAZING sci-fi one, Archetype.

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger and/or treasure hunts. Anything in this realm, really. The farther someone has to go, the better. I love it. I like it with magic, I like it with contemporary. I’m just all about it. I see a lot with my kiddo when we read middle grade novels, but I’m SO STOKED because I just got an e-arc of The Summer List, which is an adult novel about a scavenger hunt and I’m SO here for it.

Doomed Love

You’ll notice there has been nothing explicitly romantic on my likes thus far, and it’s because I’m not particularly attached to any (with this one exception). I think most romance tropes are silly. I also think a good romance can overcome a bad trope.

The one I am such a sucker for is doomed love. Going back much further than Romeo and Juliet. I love any story with starcrossed lovers, and honestly if they die, I’m totally cool with it.

Good Girl Loves Bad Boy

No! No no. I hate this. I mean, there are examples where this can be cute and work out, such as in One Of Us Is Lying, but that’s because he’s really a good person in bad circumstances. The ones I hate are like in Hexed, where the guy treats her like garbage and objectifies her and she loves him regardless. We can have nice, decent men who are still fun and sexy. Less packaging abuse as love k thanks.

Super Unusual Names

This is newer? But I’m seeing it a ton. My most recent example being As You Wish, where EVERY name was ridiculous. I accepted that the town had a secret, wish-granting cave. But I can’t abide the names.

Love Triangles

I KNOW THIS IS CONTROVERSIAL. It’s just not for me. I always like one, hate the other, and get mad at our hero/ine for having to make the decision at all when it’s so obvious.




Sigh. Instalove is unrealistic and obnoxious and very difficult to root for and somehow doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I just wrote about it in terms of Starswept, a book that I liked otherwise.

Chosen One

I love Harry Potter, and he’s quite literally the chosen one, I know. But come on. It’s too much now and I’m over it.

Girl Who Is In Every Way More Competent Than Boy Becomes A Damsel In Distress In The Third Act

I mean I think that says it all.

What about you?

What are your favorites? Do you like/dislike any on this list?