Today’s TTT is about tropes! A trope is defined as a commonly used theme or plot device, and honestly I hear the term more often used in context of fanfiction, but it’s just as much a thing in ‘normal’ fiction too!
So what are some of my faves?
Badass, protective fathers. I don’t mean the creepy dads who threaten – subtly or overtly – prospective boy/girlfriends with shotguns and the like; I mean dads who’ll rip demons to pieces to save their children. I’m especially fond of when the dad is normally a very controlled and responsible person, but all bets are off when their kids are in danger. Given how often fantasy separates kids from their parents, this isn’t a trope I get to see very often, alas.
Eyes that change colour. I’m a shallow, shallow person who is all about the special effects, and I have an unapologetic Thing for supernatural eye colours. Give me my necromancers whose eyes go black when they channel their power, and shapeshifters whose eyes flash gold when they get testy, and red-eyed vampires. It’s a cliche and my drama-queen heart loves it.
Magic that’s actually magical. Magic can have some rules and limitations, but I don’t want it to be Maths – there needs to be an element of wonder to it, and wildness; it should be a force that can’t quite be explained, something that’s beautiful even when it terrifies. I see this most often referred to as ‘soft magic’, with ‘hard magic’ being magical systems that are more a slightly esoteric science than anything else, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s magic that’s actually magical, and magic that has all the actual magic sucked out of it. And I know which I prefer!
Heroes tapping new depths of power to save the day at the last moment. Again, it’s a total cliche, but I don’t care how predictable it is: I will always have Feels when all seems lost, and the hero manages to rally/turn the tables by digging deeper than they ever have before.
M/F pairings where the girl/woman is the dominant partner. I see this so rarely I’ve ended up writing it into all of my original stuff, and most of my fanfic too.
Male love interests who are alphas on the street and subs in the sheets. This is obviously related to the previous trope, and is what it says on the tin: I definitely have a Thing for powerful males who yield that power when it comes to romance and sex – and who don’t have crises of masculinity about it, either.
Heroes not keeping secrets. I hate stories where the main character finds out about the supernatural (whatever form that might take) and then proceeds to keep it secret from everyone around them, instead of reaching out for help and support. I love seeing siblings, friends, and partners being drawn into the adventure at the side of their loved one, even if they don’t share the powers/gifts of the main character.
Found families. Whether it’s because their blood-relatives are awful, far away, or dead, getting to see a group of friends who are close enough to call each other family is my jam. Adults and younger people forming parental bonds despite lack of a blood-tie is A++ too.
Non-humans that feel alien. Too often non-human characters are basically just humans with a few peculiarities; whether they’re elves or Martians, I love non-humans that genuinely feel different from humans, with alien cultures and modes of thought. It doesn’t have to be super drastic; Barbara Hambly’s vampires, for instance, or the various alien species from Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer series, manage perfectly without drowning readers in worldbuilding. (Not that I mind being drowned in worldbuilding. But I’m told most people do, so I understand why most people don’t write the level of detail I’d prefer in a perfect world.)
Normalised queerness. Give me fantasy and sci-fi where humanity has moved past at least some of its prejudices and someone being some flavour of queer is no longer noteworthy. Or fantasy worlds (or cultures) where it was never an issue to begin with. Where poly relationships are the norm or at least common, where people don’t bat an eye at two women getting together, where people are baffled at the idea that there might only be two genders. I don’t need it to be plot-relevant or anything, but spec-fic with normalised queerness is something that’s practically guaranteed a shot from me. I’m not promising to finish it, if it’s not a good story otherwise, but it’ll tip me over the line into picking it up if I’m not sure whether or not to try it.
And that’s it from me. What are some of YOUR favourite tropes?