What Is a Trope? Yes, Every Best-Selling Author Knows the Latest Mainstream Tropes
Updated: Oct 16, 2021
To trope, or not to trope... How many times have you heard the terms "enemies-to-lovers" or "fated mates" or "love triangles"?
1. Tropes are everywhere.
By definition, "tropes" are commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works.
These themes occur pretty commonly in movies, TV shows, and especially books. It's those story elements that keep coming up many, many times over.
Many books use these same theme elements repeatedly because often it helps when people are familiar with what they're reading. It gives the story a definite structure, a direction, and to a degree, it satisfies readers' expectations.
Knowing about tropes also helps readers find more books that they might like based on what they've already read. Since books that share some of the same tropes are likely what these readers will want more of.
For example, in BookRiot's article, they go through what other books are like Victoria Aveyard's "Red Queen" so if you liked this book, odds are these books share the same themes and tropes and you'll like them too.
2. Tropes can be mixed up.
Here's an excerpt of a definition of what feels like a new genre that mixes sci-fi & fantasy even though it's been around for a while (because it's something I've only recently discovered!)
"Science Fantasy works, on the other hand, take traditional Fantasy and Science Fiction tropes and throw them in a blender, purposely creating settings that have the feel of both. Expect to see a lot of classic Fantasy tropes (e.g. warriors with swords, dragons, wizards, castles, and elves) and a lot of standard Science Fiction tropes (e.g. spaceships, aliens, lasers, scientists, robots, and Time Travel)."
Many of our YA SFF authors write in this wonderful genre-bending genre! (Possible listicle coming next!)
3. Tropes can be broken.
Many books use a trope where the "hero/heroine" is always the biggest & baddest of all time. "The Hunger Games" is a prime example of this.
But I believe there are also average-person stories out there that can be just as good and possibly more relatable. Trends are also shifting with newer books to diversify protagonists with more nuanced characters. These heroes don't have to be the strongest, most beautiful characters anymore.
In this BookRiot podcast, they talk mostly about YA romance tropes, but they do discuss the "strong heroine" trope and how perhaps it is just as important to explore the story of the not-the-most-beautiful-or-strongest-females in literature.
I've encountered many books with "passive protagonists" and have still enjoyed the stories.
What do you think about this? Do you need your heroes to be the best ever?
Right now, honestly, I'd like to just be the "damsel in distress" and let someone else do the work for a change. 😉
This article was written by S. R. Breaker.
S. R. Breaker writes offbeat, quirky, easy reading teen/young adult science fiction and fantasy books. She has a thing for "portal fantasy" and loves to live vicariously through her characters. They don’t have to vacuum all day long and are almost always guaranteed to survive any fantastical or thrilling incidents, no matter how treacherous she writes them. Visit her epic worlds in books.