Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Tropes



Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, we’re talking tropes. In literature, a trope is an overused plot device, stock character, idea, theme, or motif. Basically, they’re anything that’s done so frequently it’s become cliché. Writing school teaches us that clichés are always bad, but are they really? I don’t think so. Here are ten tropes I’ll happily read over and over (and over and over).








Best Fiction Tropes

(And Many, Many Book Recommendations)






1. Small town, big problems


I grew up in a small town, so I understand rural places where everybody is in your business and not-so-secretly judging you. Small-town dynamics are fascinating because there are people with different values crammed into a small area. Angst is inevitable. That's what makes this trope irresistible for me. 
















2. Don’t go into the woods


If I had to describe my reading aesthetic, it would be “weirdos in the wilderness.” Nothing is better than unusual people in hard-to-reach places. Bring on the survival stories, the nature writing, the Cabin-In-The-Woods horror. If there’s a forest, I’m here for it.
















3. Abandoned places


Are you noticing a theme here? I like books with big settings and small casts. Abandoned places are horror movie clichés, but I don’t mind! I love them. I instantly want to know why the setting was abandoned and if it really is abandoned. Sometimes places aren’t as empty as they seem.














4. A Stranger comes to town


Life occasionally gets boring, right? It’s easy to become trapped in the same old routine. This is also true with fictional people. Sometimes you need a new character to come along and shake things up. Most of us know what it’s like to be the new kid in school, the new person in the group, or the new family in town. This trope is just plain relatable.














5. Sagas and secrets


Remember how I said I like books with small casts? Well, sometimes that’s a lie. I love books that follow a family through generations. I want to see what changes and what stays the same. Bonus points if the family is hiding scandalous secrets.














6. Amnesia


Soap operas totally ruined amnesia plotlines. Amnesia has become the trope to end all tropes. However, I love watching a character struggle to rediscover their past, especially if something bizarre happened. If an author is going to pull off an amnesia plotline, the forgotten stuff better be top-shelf weird.
















7. The tragic villain


I think this trope would make a lot of people’s lists. Everyone loves a complex villain with a tragic backstory. The best bad guys are the ones who have understandable motives. It’s unsettling when you like the bad guys and are sad about their defeat. It’s not supposed to work that way! (I’m always thrilled when it works that way.)
















8. Band of brothers / Found family


Don’t you love it when a squad of unrelated characters team up to do something epic? Authors seem to love it because I see this trope ALL THE TIME. I’m not complaining. I love it, too. There’s something satisfying about watching characters with diverse personalities learn to trust each other and work together (for good or for evil).
















9. Parallel universes


My interest in parallel universes probably started with my Nightmare Before Christmas obsession as a child. I went through a phase where I watched that movie every single day. Yeah. Child-me needed to get a life. Since I still don’t have a life, my parallel universe obsession continues in book form. Luckily, there’s no shortage of novels about other worlds. Authors seem to enjoy parallel universes as much as I do. Maybe because alternate universes are uncanny. They’re almost the same as our world, but they’re different enough to be unsettling. That makes them fun to read about.
















10. Great Depression And WWII settings


I read a lot of historical fiction. A LOT. For reasons I don’t understand, The Great Depression and WWII are extremely popular time periods for fiction. Probably because they’re dramatic and fairly recent? I don’t know, but I won’t whine about it. There are many supremely excellent books set during the 30s and 40s.















Which tropes are your favorites? Do you have any books to add to my list?








35 comments:

  1. Don't go in the words was on my list this week, too!

    My TTT

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  2. Great list! I love found families and tragic villains, and I'm all for small towns with big secrets - especially when a stranger arrives.

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  3. I'm a sucker for the small town settings for sure. The WWII books are really good too.

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  4. I love how different your choices are, but I really adore some of these like found family/band of brothers, the tragic villain, and books about WWII (there's just so much you could cover!!)

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  5. IDK why I thought of Great Depression as like the feeling and not the time period. I'm dumb lol. Great list <3

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  6. One of my favorites is haunted house. I've been getting into a 1920's setting but I do love a good small town trope for sure!

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  7. Don't go into the woods always scare the crap out of me! They're good, though!

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  8. I can't do don't go into the woods stories because my yard actually backs up to the woods, and it just freaks me out too much. xD I love a good tragic villain, and I love books set in WWII, even though I know they're inevitably going to destroy my feels every time.

    Here's my TTT post.

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  9. Don't Go Into the Woods and Abandoned Places get my votes! Both those premises always intrigue me. :D

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  10. So many interesting ones up there. Unsurprisingly, all the tropes that came into my head were romance tropes, but I adore a lot of these too. Small town, big problems is always great, and found family!!! A stranger comes to town is one I didn't think of either, but I have enjoyed each and every time.

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  11. WWII seems to be a really common theme for books I read, too! Even if it's just kind of lingering in the background. Love the amnesia trope, too.

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  12. I love a dark, mysterious wood. And small towns are great for all kinds of shenanigans. Strangers and amnesia are great too. And ooh I LOVE parallel universes.

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  13. YES to abandoned places! I've never heard of The Year of the Flood, but I'm definitely off to check that one out! I am absolutely here for tragic villains too. I wonder what it says about me that I often find myself sympathizing with villains. :/

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  14. I love how you formatted this. So appreciate the recommendations and that there're loads of Stephen King books in this, lol. Don't go into the woods and Parallel worlds are my favs as well. In the fantasy genre, chosen boy/girl are also my favs. Not many people like that trope, but I'm a sucker for it.

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  15. Parallel universes when done well can be amazing!

    Lauren @ Always Me

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  16. I love the don't go into the woods trope and amnesia, but I'm like you about that it "better be top-shelf weird."

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  17. I love the small town big problems! And if you haven't read it yet AJ try Beartown by Fredrik Backman. It is spot on your trope!

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  18. I love your picks!! So many good tropes. I'm kind of (completely, absolutely) chuckling over your description for DON'T GO INTO THE WOODS. "If I had to describe my reading aesthetic, it would be “weirdos in the wilderness.'" ME, ME, MY BRAND, ETC. I just agree 100% with this one and am here for it, for sure. Haha.

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  19. A huge yes to found families! I can't believe I forgot to put that one on my list but I love it so much.

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  20. I can never resist the something in the woods scenario! I like the bad guys to be complex too as it adds more interest to a book.

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  21. Hi AJ - lots of recommendations here - for a poor reader of fiction ... I'm fascinated. I'd like to read the Karen Maitland book 'Company of Liars' - I imagine she'd tell a good tale - cheers Hilary

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  22. Ahh what a fantastic list! I also really like small town settings where everyone knows each other, it's always so much fun to read. And amnesia! Amnesia always is one of my favorite tropes, I need to read more books with it. Parallel universes are also a favorite of mine, though I used to be obsessed with them way more when I was younger, just like you. His Dark Materials is always one of my favorite reads :)

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  23. I was thinking that we had a lot in common--small towns, wilderness settings, abandoned "ghost towns", etc. Those do catch my attention and draw on my heart. Good list, and keep those tropes coming. But no more vampires :)

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

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  24. I love books set in small towns. I come from a small town and just the gossip alone is fuel enough to spark some great paranormal stories haha.

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  25. I am such a sucker for a tragic villain. I mean, villains are people, too and I love when authors show their "good" sides. Morally gray villains (and characters for that matter) are so hard to write, but when a writer can pull it off it is just amazing. And I am reading The Secret History right now. The whole found family trope is so interesting in this one for obvious (and sinister) reasons.

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  26. Lovely post, AJ! I adore nearly all of these tropes so much! Bands of brothers, parallel universes, small towns but big problems, and the tragic villain are some of my absolute favorites! <3

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  27. It's great to see some unique picks on your list. I'm usually a sucker for the tragic villain. I find myself sympathizing with him/her and it makes for a much richer story.

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  28. I love found family stories with all my heart! That is why The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet got added to my top ten of all time last year. 👍✨

    I have Star Girl, Rebecca, Bud not Buddy, and the Ava Lavender book on my Kindle waiting to be read. 📚

    In the Company of Liars has a fabulous cover! 😍

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  29. Kiterunner, absolutely influenced my entire life. From thinking of naming my son to a character from the novel to thinking about the cost of empathy and the novel's deeper themes.

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  30. I like your list of favorite tropes and yes to the tragic villain!

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  31. I was wondering why everybody hated the amnesia trope (or people say they do). But I think I agree with you on most of these. I grew up in a small town too, which is why I don't live there today, LOL. If you don't think like everybody else, it can be kinda isolating.

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  32. LOVE lots of these tropes, especially abandoned places, amnesia and parallel universes. HOW did I not know that ADSoM involved parallel universes---now I'm even more desperate to read it!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  33. I love it when I end up feeling bad for the villain in a story. I like most of these but have really fallen for a few multi generational sagas over the years. Great list!

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  34. I know you've already read The Stranger in the Woods, which is the first title I thought of to augment your list, but have you read My Abandonment? It's based on the true story of a father and daughter who lived in Forest Park in Portland for about four years before being discovered.

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  35. A million times yes to the tragic villain. I think that so many people love that one too, I know I do. ♥ I also adore stories from a small town. I went to school with not even 160 people in my graduating class, so we all knew each other from kinder on. Plus you always saw people everywhere you went in town. Those stories always make my heart happy!
    Jen @ Star-Crossed Book Blog

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