In my efforts to become a better writer, I try to read twice as much as I write. Since I’ve always loved to read, it feels more like an opportunity than a chore.
Well, most days.
I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed every book. Most of the time, if I have issues with a book, it’s because of particular clichés or tropes that an author decides to use. I don’t think clichés themselves are the problem (tune in next week for 5 clichés I love), but it’s the lack of twist that writers decide to, or even can, add to it.
So, here’s five clichés I could do without:
1. Drop-Dead Gorgeous Leads
Writers have to describe their characters. There’s no way around it, but do so many of them have to be incredibly beautiful? This is a cliché I notice most frequently in romance novels and, while I understand that physical attraction is a key part of romantic relationships, I can only read about how beautiful and glossy Becky’s hair is before I stop caring. That’s nice that Chad has a devilish smile, but what does he really bring to the story? I’d rather hear about their dreams to start a small business, send rockets into space, or literally anything else rather than what they look like. Thoughts, behaviors, and hopes make an interesting, memorable character. Physical characteristics do not.
2. “I’m Not Like Other Girls”
This one gets under my skin mainly because it’s not true of the character in question and, most often, it makes it sound like there’s something wrong with girls who have more typical, and often times feminine, interests. As someone who likes pumpkin spice lattes, dresses, horror movies, and Attack on Titan in equal measure, I’m here to tell you that there isn’t. People have similarities in interests as well as how they see the world and that’s okay.
3. Medieval Europe-Based Fantasy Cultures
Given the eons of culture and conflict on six different continents, it would be really cool to see how adding magic or fantastic beings into the mix would look. It feels like there’s an infinite amount of possibilities that aren’t being tapped into and, while there are definitely works out there that do, there could always be more. Think about it. Vampires that use sleek 1950’s cars to pick up victims. Witches fighting in the World Wars. The possibilities are endless.
4. Love Triangles
It seems like this one has died down in recent years, thankfully. I can’t put my finger on it, but love triangles have always felt like a waste of time within bigger stories. They’re usually pretty predictable and one romantic per character always feels like plenty. If they involved polyandrous or LGBT+ characters, maybe there would be something interesting and new to explore, but I don’t expect those to be a popular avenue any time soon. As is, they feel very “been there, done that.”
5. Jerky + Moody = Mysterious and Misunderstood
Again, it feels like this one isn’t as popular as it once was, but every once and a while it rears its ugly head and I’m not a fan. I shared a great article related to the topic late last year on Cheap Reads, so I’ll try to keep it short. Lashing out, emotionally shutting down, manipulating and controlling loved one, and constant self-loathing are not endearing. They’re signs of underlying mental health and/or emotional issues and should be treated as such, not romanticize, especially for young people who are just beginning to learn how to navigate relationships.
What clichés and tropes are you tired of seeing? Which ones do you like? Are there some on this list do you like? Why is that? Leave a comment below and let’s start a dialogue. 🙂