Actually, this is a question I will have to put some thought into. I certainly have Guilty pleasure series filled with what I know to be 'bad' storytelling devices but love anyway. I recently read Throne of Glass, a trashy fantasy YA, and loved it anyway. There, the main-character is an 18-year old girl who happens to be a super-assassin (Mary-sue) in a competition against all the grizzled veterans but ... told through a harry-potter plot (School year, balance fighting the big bad with classes, climax of fighting antagonist coincides with final exams!), which makes absolutely no sense because why would a bunch of highly experienced, highly trained mercenaries and assassins needs to go through basic training together for a competition. No sense whatsoever. I loved it anyway. The Honourverse series is another series that is popularly considered pulp/trash, but I think it's actually pretty good and I will die on that hill.
I think one of my favourite tropes, however, is already an inversion of a frequently used one. My favourite novel is With Fire and Sword by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz. In this book, the main character 'Lord Yan,' is a minor aristocrat and military officer. While on a mission to deliver a letter that will ultimately spark a war, he goes through a village and falls in love with one of the women there. But Duty calls him off to war. Meanwhile, his love is kidnapped, and he faces the difficult choice of following his heart so save the woman he loves, and abandoning the army, and the war, or following Duty. What I love about the book is that these options are clearly separate - most authors find a way that their character can do both with no consequences, and this, for me, takes all the steam and interest out of the moral decision making. In Lord Yan's case, he chooses Duty *despite being given clear leave by his commanding officer* and spends the remainder of the book brooding about his choice. It gets very philopshical, but again for me the key is the decision is *real*. Its not "Oh, look, the enemy are held-up in this castle and So is my love, so if we beseige it, I get two happy endings!". I guess what I am saying here is the Duty vs. Self-interest trope is one that always gets me emotionally, but only if i feel like it is a genuine choice, with genuine consequences, that is genuinely followed through. I don't particularly mind which side a character chooses, as long as it feels like they are really making a choice. In Lord Yan's Case (spoilers here), the parallel plot of the story is his friends going off to save his love, but without him knowing until the end of the book, so we get both Lord Yan's brooding philopshy *and* the adventure story. Even though it all works out well in the end, the key for me is that Lord Yan made a real decision with real consequences, at least to him.
I'll try settle my thoughts, and boil down what I think I like into some favourite tropes.
Post by longhand.hearted on Oct 1, 2020 17:27:37 GMT -6
I'm so pleased this has come up already. Tropes are something that I'm constantly trying to recognise at the moment. A story full of them sounds interesting!
I'm such a sucker for the dark brooding character as well. I also really enjoy "the chosen one and their dragon" or "the chosen one and their guide". I've not really thought about why that might be before but it's interesting that they're alternative relationships.
Penpen, no shame, I don't mind the odd teen story that doesn't make sense either!
I like the best friend to lovers. I know I've used it in my stories quite a bit, especially when I started writing. This could be the books I was reading and the tv shows I used to watch. I am trying to get out of using it though but maybe I shouldn't as I do enjoy using it. I also like the darker bad guy characters, I guess the dark broody ones like you've mentioned or just male characters in some sort of emotional pain... this makes me sound like a crazy person...I like males showing their emotions and having them break down because of this in a story makes me feel sorry for them. Well I made one of my male character's mum go missing which causes him to have trust issues and he has break down later in the story because he feels he's losing his only friend who he loves. Ok...may be I am evil haha. I feel this way to female characters too but not as strongly. I also really like the more mysterious characters, I guess this can lead into the dark broodyness.
A while back, I read an article on what NOT to include in a fantasy novel. It was a huge list, and listed pretty much everything I loved in fantasy. The reason, the article said, was because EVERYONE does these, and rarely do them well, so they're over done.
So I set out to prove they are awesome, and I wound up with my Fantasy novel, currently titled Claw of the Raven. It's got: Evil Queen, runaway prince, fallen knight, crazy wizard, inherited magical sword, dragon lords, trolls, and other such awesomeness that everyone says you're not supposed to have.
I love the story. It's become my Magnum Opus. I'm currently rewriting it because I see SOOOO Much more it could have been, and plan on diving headlong into it again soon.
I think one of my favorite tropes is the Beast Within. The struggle between a man and his nature, knowing what is right but WANTING something more savage, and having to deal with that.
I really can't stand Romantic Drama anymore, because it's just so done. Love triangles make me frustrated. The whole "Will they/won't they" just frustrates me, especially when it's because of some misunderstanding, or because one of them walked in at the EXACT wrong moment. It just...my goodness, it frustrates me.