a talk about tropes

3:03 AM


Here’s another reading-themed discussion, because nothing will satisfy my need to talk about books aside from… yes, talking about books.

Let’s sit down and talk about tropes. 
Consulting the trusty dictionary, tropes are significant or recurring themes, also motifs, that are used often in books, movies, and shows. Despite the negative reviews that readers give books that are filled with tropes, other people see tropes as guilty pleasures in reading. It can also be used as a selling point during trends: like if the current major boom is dystopian featuring heavy romance, it can attract a lot of readers who enjoy it.


WELCOME to the world of tropes. Thanks to this site.

Often synonymous to cliches, some YA character tropes that are called out for being used are: the chosen ones, the bad boys, the damsels in distress, and the parents being a no-show throughout the book. Some tropes that affect the plot are insta-love, secretive evil governments, and prophesies.

Excuse me while I preach the truth of this. Credits to this awesome post.


I personally don’t harbor a huge hate for tropes, but I do get irritated once in a while. Like I said, tropes are seen as overused and occur too many times in too many books, to the point characters become flat and seem like every other character, and settings and plots become dull. This defies the author’s intention on coming up with an original story — or at least, a story that’s uncommon seeing that more or less every idea right now has been used already and turned into a story. Still, it’s not a great factor, especially for those who read profusely.


Twitter is full of YA parody accounts you need to follow. Credits to this.

Well, this is where I really need to voice out my opinions. Many tropes, taking into example the insta-love trope and the missing parents trope that everyone rants about, is still apparent in YA books that have been published throughout the recent years. 

This is exactly what I am talking about. Credits to the same post earlier.
However, it’s great to see some actual change though! Lots of authors are testing the waters of different character archetypes, from anti-heroines (Marie Lu’s ‘The Young Elites’, for example) to the not-chosen-ones (Patrick Ness’ ‘The Rest of Us Just Live Here’ is all about that and I adore it).

Morgan Matson, who held a book signing in my city last September 2016, explained why she wrote good boys as opposed to the frequent bad boys. She said something along the lines of, “I wanted to show that good guys are just as great too!” which is the reason why all of her contemporary books feature guys who are actually… nice.

Use tropes as building blocks. Especially if you’re starting out, there’s no harm in using tropes as a means of developing your story. I consider them as building blocks, as passages to more unique and creative characters, plots, themes, and settings. Creativity has to start somewhere, even if it means you fleshing your story out with the means of tropes. 

Read a whole lot more. This is where writing diverse comes in! Read books in your age range, genre, and writing style. See what tropes work, which are overdone, and which you believe need more spotlight. 

Just write. No one should stop you, especially if you love what you’re writing.


Do you enjoy reading about tropes? Do you despise any? Do you have any tropes in your current projects? (Don’t worry, I have one or two!) Tell me all. 

- Andrea <3

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20 comments

  1. same. tropes don't really make me angry or anything like that, but they are annoying because sometimes it can feel like you're reading the same story over and over again. i'm definitely guilty of putting a trope or two into my writing though! 🙈

    i love that a lot of authors are testing out the idea of anti-heroines right now!! they tend to be my very favorite characters actually!

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    1. Tropes are actually fine with me, haha, except when they become overused! I agree that it can become upsetting.

      No worries. I think I have a few tropes in every project I write. And YES. Antiheroines have so much more depth to me, at least compared to the typical Mary Sues that have dominated the YA world.

      - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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  2. The teenage boy one is so true!!! xD I loved this, good job! New follower!

    -Gray Marie

    graymariewrites.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you Gray!! *screams and checks your blog instantly*

      - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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  3. The Tumblr + Twitter posts you included made me laugh out loud! The "white girl with special powers and love triangle" one especially irritates me.

    I will confess, I have a secret love for tropes when they're applied places they're not usually found. For example, when the "white girl with special powers and love triangle" is changed to "trans POC with special powers and a lesbian love triangle", I am 100% down. It's basically the same trope, but the fact that it's being expanded makes me happy.....which is odd, as I hate the original trope. XD

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    1. It's so weird how we used to embrace some tropes before but over time they've just become downright hilarious because of how often they're used :P

      OH YES. Twisting tropes is wonderful! It makes for refreshing reads :)

      - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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  4. I like what you have to say here. Tropes aren't all bad. It's about how we use them. And technically we should try to use them in a different way than they've been done before. Like love triangles? Some authors do something different within the formula of a love triangle instead of just ticking off all the regular "rules" for it, and it makes things more interesting for the readers. And, yeah, some tropes do attract a certain reader type. Like I enjoy fantasy because I like a lot of the fantasy tropes like dragons and quests and lost royalty.

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    1. Thanks, Ashley! I'm glad that you liked my opinion on tropes. They're not entirely bad, but like you said, they've become more like 'rules' to writing a book in the prescribed genre and age range.

      - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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  5. Oh, yes, the YA tropes :P I come upon things like that in so many novels and just roll my eyes like "here we go...AGAIN." (reader pet-peeves xD)

    I definitely agree that we can use them as building blocks though. Then, we give them our own unique spin, and they can be GOOD.

    Awesome post. These reading posts make me want to read more myself!

    audrey caylin

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    1. And this is me joining you with the same, bored sigh of "Here we go AGAIN."

      I love how more and more authors are trying to spin typical tropes, like changing character dynamics and adding more depth to a plot. :)

      Thank you, Audrey!!! I'm so happy you like the posts <3

      - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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  6. Great post, Andrea! I had to come check out your blog of course. ;) I totally agree, tropes can be super annoying but they can also be taken and twisted on their head and actually end up pretty interesting if we add a little ingenuity.

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    1. Thank you, Emily! Tropes ARE a bit hard to glaze over after reading them in book after book, but the real key is to twist it up :)

      - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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  7. I enjoyed your post SO MUCH. I certainly love a few tropes, particularly when they're twisted to become new, but not the love triangle. KILL THE LOVE TRIANGLE. Even in the Hunger Games, it just annoyed me. *ducks rotten tomatoes and cabbages*

    (I suppose it could be done well... but it seems unrealistic, to me, the two equally perfect guys fighting for the one girl.) Also the Chosen One trope - always a teen, illogically - is a liiittle overdone as well.

    That said, I'm also guilty of a fairly big trope... the orphan. Not just one MC, several. And one isn't just an orphan: she's a Lost Royalty orphan. (I really need to mix things up a bit there... even my little sister could see it coming, although that /was/ in a very early draft when I was twelve or something.)

    Annnyway... great post! and the pictures are hilarious :D

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    1. AAAAH Thank you Jem! The only actual love triangles that I find myself enjoying are the ones that are fair, but then again in most triangles you can already tell which guy the girl is destined to end up with :/

      The Chosen One trope is getting older book after book! I appreciated it before, but now it receives a raised eyebrow from me.

      Ooh, don't worry too much about some tropes! I think readers can accept them as long as your book isn't a walking trope crammed in tropes in itself (does that make sense?), and I'm pretty sure your story is so much more than just an orphan character who's from royalty. :)

      - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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  8. It is my goal to defy as many tropes as I can when I write. I mean, some are just hilarious and add a light touch so there are a few here and there, but otherwise I find it a fun challenge to destroy the tropes.

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    1. That's a really great goal, Olivia :) Tropes actually are funny at some point, but they do get predictable afterwards!

      - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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  9. Twitter parody accounts are the best! <3 Have you seen the Brooding YA Hero account? It never fails to crack me up!
    I always try to put twists on tropes in my stories, so the reader expects one thing and then gets the complete opposite, but that being said, sometimes they slip inside without my notice. I love this post! <3

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    1. Yes! I follow the Brooding YA Hero, the Typical Best Friend / Side Character, YA Parents, and YA Aspiring Writer :)

      That's definitely a technique that can work when handling tropes! Thank you for reading, Melissa <3

      - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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  10. Okay, how have I NOT (a.) commented or (b.) followed your lovely blog yet?!

    I am known to fall for the damsel in distress trope. =) In fact, my Camp Nano novel has a trope or two. I think that, if someone has a fresh spin on a trope, it makes it alright.

    *wonders if i made sense*

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    1. AAAH I'm so happy you're here, Micaiah! Your blog is amazing <3

      Oh and honestly I like the Damsel in Distress?! Maybe it's because I despise the Mary Sue-tough girl. I mean... if I'm too immersed in books that contain no romance, I always try searching for romance books with that particular trope. And yes you did make sense, no worries!

      - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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