1. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView Supporter

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    What are your favourite tropes to read?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Tenderiser, Feb 19, 2019.

    By trope I mean a popular/familiar plot element (e.g. demonic possession is a horror trope, a prophecy is a fantasy trope) or a popular/familiar type of character (e.g. in detective novels, the maverick officer who is willing to break the law to catch the criminal).

    So, what are your favourite tropes? What will you see in a blurb that would make you buy the book or make you put the book back on the shelf?

    Mine are:

    Horror - Demonic possession, curses, creepy children, characters isolated in the middle of nowhere with an unknown killer among them, ouija boards, and murderous freaks (e.g. The Hills Have Eyes). I generally avoid haunted houses, and supernatural creatures like werewolves, zombies, and vampires.

    Sci-fi - I love mysterious pandemics, cryptids, genetic engineering gone wrong, alien invasions, and finding weird things on other planets. I avoid anything set in space, anything dystopian and, again, anything with werewolves, zombies, or vampires.

    Crime/thriller - Corpses suggesting occult deaths (like weird symbols etched into the skin) or ritualistic killings, novels focusing on forensic pathology rather than pure detective word (e.g. Rizzoli and Isles), mistaken identity or identity switching. Not a fan of military, political intrigue, or spies; nothing fuelled by testosterone.

    Romance - I like tortured heroes, enemies-to-lovers, forced proximity, and fake relationships becoming real. Do not like alpha males, sports romance, or conflict based on easily-resolved misunderstandings.
     
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  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Hmmm...

    Pretty much across the board I like beta heroes (my fave is Hicks from Aliens) - guys who aren't the number one and don't really want to be in charge, but who rise to any occasion and get shit done.

    I'm having trouble thinking of plot-based tropes I really enjoy...

    ETA: Oooh, I thought of one - I like second-chance-romance, whether it's genre romance or not. People who have a history but who weren't really good for each other back then, but are great for each other now.

    And betrayal. Jaw-dropping, stomach-churning betrayal, and the betrayed person does NOT forgive the betrayer. Ever.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2019
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  3. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    My primary love is social history (as opposed to political or military history). I'm not too bothered about what era is featured. I just like to read about what it was like to live 'back then'—whenever 'back then' was. This can either be fiction or non-fiction. It helps a lot if the book is well-researched, and the era is brought to life by a skilled writer.

    I like a compelling love story, whether it ends happily or not. It doesn't need to be the focus of the story, but it doesn't hurt (for me, as a reader anyway) to be included. I like the characters to seem like real people and the course of their relationship to feel organic, not forced.

    I love futuristic, space-oriented, 'hard' Sci-Fi. I like stories where ordinary people confront the kinds of problems and situations they would face 'out there.' The characters don't have to be heroes. I love stories where the technology seems realistic, and couched in ways I can understand without me having to go get a degree in physics.

    I am not a fan of earth-bound dystopia however, although I have read some that I found intriguing and worthwhile. I don't avoid it, but I'm not drawn to it. If it's lively enough, I confess to enjoying escapist Space Opera. Then, the cynical, reluctant, and resourceful hero (think Han Solo) can run the show, for all I care. I just want to have fun.

    I used to enjoy Fantasy, but I've gone off it. I could still be enticed by Fantasy that's not too trope-heavy though. Unless the tropes get turned on their heads, like Joe Abercrombie does, or Terry Pratchett and Kage Baker did. That's fun.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2019
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  4. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    Like @jannert , my primary love is social history. I'll read anything but have favorite eras: 1930s, 120s, and 1940s always get my attention. I like when historical events are woven into the story as a backdrop that the characters experience.

    My tastes are eclectic, so I can't think of specific plot-based tropes I like, aside from a HEA or HFN. (I read to escape, so I don't like sad endings). Some dislikes are:

    turning a friendship into a love story just because the characters happen to be a male and a female
    tacking a love story onto a non-romance when it doesn't need to be there
    enemies to lovers (my number one pet peeve)
    sad endings
    pets who die

    It's easier to think of character traits I like and don't like. Likes: tortured heroes, male characters who are creative, characters whose inner life is different from their outer one. Wisecracking characters who can be serious and know when to be. Dislikes: asshole MCs, anti-hero MCs, alpha males.
     
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  5. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I like all those character traits myself, when it comes to reading.
     
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  6. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    To be honest most of my purchases are at used bookstores. The books are old. I'm drawn to covers and rich prose. I haven't read much sci-fi or fantasy that's all that memorable but I'll bump into something I really like like- Clifford D Simak's the City or Atta by Francis Rufus Bellamy and it becomes a favorite. I feel like all my favorite ideas have either been encapsulated in John Collier's short story collection Fancies and Goodnights or they're regulated to old, young adult books from the 70s and 80s. I mean they have stuff like a genie squeezed out of a tube of toothpaste, or William Sleator turning M.C. Escher's art into dystopian fiction, or dolls that come to life, or crickets that can perform classical music. I feel like all the best fantasy ideas were written for children.

    Favorite trope for horror - creepy dolls, haunted houses, psychos. I also like light horror I'm not into gruesome details. I can't stand vampires, I'm sortof done with zombies, and I've never read a werewolf story.
    Favorite romance trope - gothic - Woman gets house. I also like a good prairie romance - schoolmarm versus rugged hunk. And business & glitz stories - people who start or own a business and there's all kinds of backstabbing, betrayal, lust and they have like three storylines going on. The fashion descriptions were always my favorite.
     
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  7. Moon

    Moon Yes Contributor

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    I couldn't think of one per genre, but this,

    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GreyAndGrayMorality

    Came to mind. There is a novel series called Legend of the galactic heroes that, to me, is the epitome of this trope in a great way.

    A benevolent dictator (sounds so weird) fights against a corrupt democracy for control of the universe. The two characters on opposing sides, Reinhard (the benevolent dictator) an the brilliant tactician Yang Wei are the stars in this space opera.
     
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  8. paperbackwriter

    paperbackwriter Banned Contributor

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    I wish Id written Breaking Bad. Though like some others I dont much like modern day settings.
    I like main characters with complexity and depth.
    Totured souls though that does sound cliched now I think about it.
    Any story that makes me question my assumptions of what are ideal values and the right way to live.
    Christian themed writing might be a bonus.
     
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  9. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Oooh, thought of another!

    I love the childhood-friends-reunite-and-are-still-loyal trope. Like that Brad Pitt movie about molestation, but also lots of other examples. I ESPECIALLY like it when it initially seems as though the friends are now enemies, but they really aren't. Bonus points if the reader doubts the loyalties, but the characters never do.
     
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  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I like amnesia.

    I like events, usually crimes, that were in the past and quietly settled down but them come back to life in the book. Like Agatha Christie's Sleeping Murder or (this doesn't precisely fit but it's a similar mood) Robert Barnard's The Skeleton in the Grass, or Peter Robinson's Before the Poison.

    I like intelligent children that affect the plot, like in almost every Martha Grimes novel.
     
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  11. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Lively Fred

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    Hm my first instinct is, I like it when tropes are subverted/not played straight. I love things that might look like a certain trope at the outset- but then it gets flipped on its head into something totally different.

    Although 'tropes' I enjoy played straight- I'd say a more 'body sharing' than 'possession' sort of deal? Even if it's not 'body' and more 'mind. Basically anything that messes with the sense of identity makes me go ooooooh.
     
  12. Reece

    Reece Active Member

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    Enemy turned ally, enemy turned lover, not an enemy but kind of hated you and now friends/lovers/etc. Rags to riches/secret royalty. Surprise, I'm your father. Started off evil, but wait you're actually a really nice guy, and *sniffle* things have been so hard for you! Overpowered MC for the win. Newly discovered magic/powers.
     
  13. JannickStAlice

    JannickStAlice Member

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    Cults
     
  14. 18-Till-I-Die

    18-Till-I-Die Banned

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    Generally speaking I love the idea of an anti-hero. The idea of this pristine, untouched good guy who never does wrong and can never be harmed and never be defeated strikes me as completely nonsensical and divorced from reality, while I find it far more logical and less unrealistic to have a character who is less of a knight in shining armor and more of a knight in dirty armor. Han Solo is a perfect example. He's not a "good" person, but he's not evil either, he's kind of an asshole and sarcastic but he's also a genuinely honorable and heroic character. He has no reason to help the heroes but does so because it's the right thing to do.

    Another situation I'm a huge fan of is a love triangle. I know it can come off as odd, but I do really enjoy the idea, and similarly it kinda ties into the concept of the anti-hero. He's a morally ambiguous character who isn't certain about his alliances, and the women who fall for him get draw into this, some may be like a virginal girl next door and some are like Cersei Lannister, and from Not Han Solo's point of view either one is fine (literally) so he's not sure where he's going. I'm also a fan of the whole idea of young, rocky, Soap Opera-ish teen love affairs and it acts as a good set up for that.
     
  15. 18-Till-I-Die

    18-Till-I-Die Banned

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    One thing I'm not a fan of is this idea of some kind of utopian, everyone holds hands and buys the world a Coke bullshit, like Star Trek. It just grates on my nerves and it's frankly wildly unrealistic. I'm not the kind of person who even believes that democracy is going to exist in the forthcoming future, let alone the far future, and honestly I'm more convinced of it every day. So the idea that at some undetermined point in the future humankind throws away millennia of war, religious beliefs and different cultures and unify into one homogeneous civilization with no distinctions or cracks whatsoever. I could see people being unified under one government, but frankly it's more likely going to be some kind of an empire than some bizarre mishmash of Karl Marx slashfics and science-fantasy, a la Star Trek.
     
  16. Jenissej

    Jenissej Professional Lurker Supporter Contributor

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    Organized crime. Thieves' guilds, cartels, assassins, Mafiosi, smuggling rings, I'm in for them all. Bonus points if the main character is part of it.
     
  17. suddenly BANSHEES

    suddenly BANSHEES Senior Member

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    Lately I've been tearing through old high-fantasy paperbacks found in thrift shops and library boxes. I love when settings, factions, or magic mcguffins are completely impractical for the sake of looking/sounding cool.

    Why make a sword out of a crystal, or armor out of glass? Why are there little floating islands for no reason? Why is the castle upside-down? Why is our heroine wearing a crown of flowers and gold into battle?

    Because it rules. Next question.
     

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