1. taariya
    Offline

    taariya Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2016
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    50
    Location:
    Illinois

    Overused/dumb supernatural fiction tropes

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by taariya, Jun 20, 2016.

    Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies. They're all making some gains in literature and pop culture lately, mostly in the vein of "these hot 30-something actors will portray hormone-ridden angsty teenagers who also happen to be/know a supernatural creature whose most important and pressing issues are interpersonal relationships and nothing else". What's the most noticeable/clearly fallacious tropes you've noticed in supernatural/paranormal fiction?*


    *Not meant to be an attack on people writing supernatural fiction/using certain ideas or tropes, just for fun.
     
  2. Simpson17866
    Offline

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    1,702
    Likes Received:
    1,252
    Human characters are distinguished from one another, non-Human characters are all carbon-copies within their species
     
  3. GuardianWynn
    Offline

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    2,085
    Likes Received:
    671
    I am sort of bad at this, but I will try!

    1. I hate Dragons.

    2. When magic is used as a reason to specifically not explain how something works.

    2A. When a character is seen winning something logic says he should have lost based on magic. Basically magic being used to extend the suspension of disbelief for when a writer forgot to figure out a crediable way for the MC to win.
     
  4. Iain Aschendale
    Online

    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    997
    Likes Received:
    979
    Location:
    The Hopton Stoddard Home
    The Chosen One who didn't know it. Harry Potter isn't my cup of tea, but ever since JK Rowling hit it big, everybody's been beating that to death. Not a big fan of Twilight either, but at least (and I only watched one movie, so I could be wrong) Bella is just some girl, not an unwitting supergirl.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  5. Miller0700
    Offline

    Miller0700 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2016
    Messages:
    579
    Likes Received:
    343
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Everyone speaking english.
     
  6. Auger
    Offline

    Auger Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2016
    Messages:
    115
    Likes Received:
    142
    Location:
    20,000 lightyears under the sea
    1. Prophecies. They're like in-universe spoilers.
    2. Lack of government intervention. There's magical vampire-werewolf-ninja-samurai teenagers who blow up buildings in fights with the bad guy, and the government doesn't notice?
    3. Magic that defies the conservation of energy. Personally, this just feels wrong somehow.
     
  7. taariya
    Offline

    taariya Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2016
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    50
    Location:
    Illinois
    She actually turns out to be one of several super-rare humans who are like soulmates to vampires because their blood is special or something something. It seems no series, especially YA, can escape the "chosen one" plotline.

    For my own part, I've got these:
    • Immortals who don't act their age. If you've been alive for centuries, wouldn't you come to see most humans as pretty inexperienced/immature by comparison and be hard to impress, especially by some teenager with lacking worldly experience or complete emotional, mental, and physical development (regardless of how super spehshul the author says they are)?
    • In the same vein, why does it seem everyone in those types of stories are in such hurries to be changed over? If your partner was immortal and not going anywhere and you were still young yourself with no terminal illnesses, what would be the big hurry to stop aging and live forever? If you're immortal and you've been through countless relationships and perhaps changed people before, why wouldn't you want to stick it out for years before making the plunge and creating a companion in eternity?
    • Werewolves who follow the (erroneous) model of a strict alpha-omega hierarchy or long for some kind of pack that forsakes human civilization and fucks about in the woods all the time.
    • Vampires who always have some complicated interpersonal relationships and super exceptional backstory. What if Ellen only became a vampire because her sire left her for dead but she ended up surviving and being turned, and besides that was a normal person with normal person issues that got caught up in whatever vampire mess is going on? Why does it have to be some convoluted curse/romance/organization/blah?
    • Demons that are all super nefarious and powerful and hate humans. Okay we've got Slyxis who loves causing destruction, devouring human souls, and witnessing eternal suffering. Where's Greg, the disillusioned demon who doesn't really care about humans one way or the other and only got into the soul-collecting business because he heard it was a decent job and the underworld economy's gone bad and he had no other options?
     
  8. Iain Aschendale
    Online

    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    997
    Likes Received:
    979
    Location:
    The Hopton Stoddard Home
    Generally in agreement, although I can deal with a little of the above. Still, some of my favorite Twilight posters were the ones with the 110 year old Edward perving on the teenage Bella.

    Heinlein's Time Enough For Love shows that Dora hit Lazurus Long pretty hard, despite his having lived for....several hundred years at that time. There's also Lestat, the eternal 16 year old, who was pretty cool until Anne Rice realized he could buy her another pool every. damn. year. as long as she never had to find a synonym for "preternatural".

    @Auger, my bugbear isn't conservation of energy, since there's a ton of that floating around in various form, it's conservation of mass. Every time I see the Hulk I wonder if he's hollow or something...
     
  9. jannert
    Online

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,779
    Likes Received:
    7,291
    Location:
    Scotland
    Blurg. All of the above ....:blech:
     
  10. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,417
    Likes Received:
    1,978
    Location:
    Australia
    How do you know if it defies then conservation of energy? What examples does this apply to? Others, I understand and completely agree. (Although the second is often due to secret world conditions where there's active effort to hide. Not that they don't still break this but you should consider those conditions)
     
  11. halisme
    Offline

    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2015
    Messages:
    1,074
    Likes Received:
    683
    The "secret world" of monsters and wizards that still somehow exists in a world of smartphones.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  12. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,417
    Likes Received:
    1,978
    Location:
    Australia
    Well, demons are supposed to be by nature horrible. And the werewolf thing is usually because they're anarchic communes where the pack structure works because it's like the wild. It's just doesn't' apply to larger society. And anyway, all judgement is based of evaluation, what are your values? That ones seems to need more elaboration and more debate. But others, yes, absolutely.
     
  13. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,417
    Likes Received:
    1,978
    Location:
    Australia
    Well, magic would be pretty useful to cover things up, wouldn't it? Plus other stuff like ignorance, apathy and disbelief. But that one is kind of overused.
     
  14. halisme
    Offline

    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2015
    Messages:
    1,074
    Likes Received:
    683
    Unless everything has some sort of illusion cast over it, I don't buy it. Plus it makes sense for as many people to know about what's going on so they can defend themselves.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  15. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,417
    Likes Received:
    1,978
    Location:
    Australia
    The endless power scaling of some more dramatic things where there's always a bigger fish and it kind of ruins the other characters by making them feel weaker and eventually it feels a little like the protagonists are either too lucky or should be able to beat their earlier enemies so easily now. E.g Buffy, Supernatural.
     
    christinacantwrite likes this.
  16. christinacantwrite
    Offline

    christinacantwrite Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2016
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    39
    Energy and mass are the same things aren't they, just on different scales? There could be some kind of magical energy which balances out any loss or gain in "normal" mass or energy. Though I haven't seen this developed in anything I've read, to be fair.

    My most hated trope is the "all vampires are evil unless filled with soul-crushing guilt" thing.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  17. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,417
    Likes Received:
    1,978
    Location:
    Australia
    Well, vampires are conceptual supposed to be monsters. Total monsters. Before Carmilla and then Bram Stoker 80% of vampire folklore even involved clearly non-human appearances. The buman-blending vampire was the minority idea. So whats' the problem?
     
  18. christinacantwrite
    Offline

    christinacantwrite Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2016
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    39
    Oh yes, they did this in Doctor Who a lot with the Daleks, each time coming back a little more deadly after being "destroyed" by the Doctor. They kinda lost their novelty after a while.

    I guess my problem is that I don't like monsters! Or rather, I find the concept of an evil monster, pitted against the flawed but deep-down good and virtuous humans, unbelievable. To me, because a being needs to feed from humans to survive is not a reason to consider them monsters. Just like if a human kills a vampire to survive, they wouldn't be a monster.

    Ok, I'll rephrase what I said to be more generic: I don't like the "good vs. evil" trope.

    And, much as it saddens me, this is why I got bored of Doctor Who:cry:
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  19. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,417
    Likes Received:
    1,978
    Location:
    Australia
    Oh yes, moral simplicity is bad. I hate especially when it's divided into two clear and obvious camps where 80% of the characters fit neatly.
     
  20. christinacantwrite
    Offline

    christinacantwrite Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2016
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    39
    And when every character who dares to criticise the MC ends up on the bad side. grumble grumble.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  21. taariya
    Offline

    taariya Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2016
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    50
    Location:
    Illinois
    Demons are supposed to be that way...why? Yeah, they're demons. Yeah, they do evil things. But I just don't get why the motivation has to be "they all hate human beings and they do evil things because they're evil and they hate they hate they hate". If you look at something like "The Young Demon-keeper" (don't know if that's the exact title), the demon is annoying and pretty much ruins the MC's life because of his extreme gluttony. Like, he doesn't come up with the specific intention of destroying human lives, he mostly sticks to eating vanilla ice cream and only eats human beings when his human companion gets upset by someone and he eats them in some attempt to please him. Or, "Ava's Demon" where the demons have lives and personalities of their own and don't feel much about the human race as a whole one way or the other besides needing their help to get back to their own doings and fight a universal villain. Like, it's possible to have demons with personalities beyond "I'm abjectly and purposefully terrible and interested in destroying every human life no matter how petty it is because I'm a demon".

    Well I'm not saying these things don't have reasons that are presented in the story that they're used in, they're just overused and in my opinion not realistic. First of all, the "alpha-omega" pack structure doesn't work in the wild and the theory was based on fallacious field science. Actual wolf packs usually consist of a single family unit, with the cubs leaving to start a separate pack once they reach maturity. It's rare for unrelated wolves to live together or for loner wolves to join pre-established packs. And this is something that you can find from any current research or reports regarding wolf packs, wolf sanctuary websites, basically anywhere with credible information on wolves. I think it's usually a lack of real research or concern for realism that causes the perpetuation of this trope, not any basis in reality.

    It doesn't even apply to smaller society. Think about it. If you have a pack with the same stratification as one could find in normal society, if not more so, what would motivate you not to splinter off and create your own pack? Or to challenge superior wolves to get out of your position? Or to just get disillusioned and go back to normal society? The pack structure is bound to create conflict, and in some way that's good if that's what you're going for, but otherwise there's no reason to use it.

    Plus, assuming these people were not born into this pack cut off from society, wouldn't they have entire lives they were leaving behind to go fuck about in the woods eating pheasants? What motivates them to give up everything and go live that way? When most people dream of escaping their lives, they don't mean "forsaking human society altogether", they mean "having a life where this specific problem/person isn't present but I'm still enjoying the comforts of civilization".

    Maybe I'm overcritical, I just don't like these tropes.
     
  22. christinacantwrite
    Offline

    christinacantwrite Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2016
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    39
    No, nothing wrong with wanting realism. Even (or maybe even especially) in fantasy.
     
  23. halisme
    Offline

    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2015
    Messages:
    1,074
    Likes Received:
    683
    We should do threads like this for other genres. I have a lot of gripes with YA.
     
  24. Justin Rocket 2
    Offline

    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    194
    While I appreciate what this thread is trying to do (in particular because I want to be a YA author), it raises a question which needs to be asked.

    "Genre" is recognized by its conventions. One of YAs conventions is the poor, misunderstood duck out of water who is destined for great things. If we're going to have a _supernatural_ YA, then that duck out of water is almost required to be something supernaturally exceptional whether that "something supernatural" is a vampire hunter or a vampire or something else.

    I guess what I'm saying is, if you get rid of all these things you don't like, do you still have genre?

    If not, then that has some pretty big repercussions in everything related to publishing; from getting published to where book stores display your books (and, therefore, which customers see it).
     
  25. taariya
    Offline

    taariya Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2016
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    50
    Location:
    Illinois
    Given that (in my experience) a startling amount of YA includes supernatural/paranormal elements, I think a lot of it is fair game here. Perhaps I should change the title to be more open?

    The answer that I had to this came across as overly hostile when I was reading it back, so I decided to go with something short and sweet instead.

    Tropes =/= bad. Tropes that get used even when they don't make sense within the author's story, when they typically serve only to ruin the reader's experience and create more work for the author to keep it together, and tropes that get used when the author wants to make their work more marketable instead of focusing on their creative vision = bad.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2016

Share This Page