I read a lot of books. And its pretty obvious that some things keep on happening. In this post, I”m going to talk about some literary tropes, what I think of them, and why they exist.
1. Eyes and hair.
So in books, there are always people with ‘intelligent eyes” and “determined grey eyes” and “a temper to match her fiery red hair” and “I’m boring like my mouse brown hair” Why is this. You can only tell what someone is like by getting to know them- if you are assuming a personality based on appearance,, it is merely an assumption. Brown haired people can be interesting, green eyed people can be stupid and red haired people can be calm and rational.
2. Eyes and mouths.
So in books when people are always like “I could see the fear in her eyes” and ” her eyes told a different story” and ” his eyes were laughing” I have never been able to see more than general emotion in other peoples eyes. And then there is lip reading “get me out of here he mouthed” if they are whispering I get it, but I am absolutely inept at reading lips, useful as it might be for boring classes (In chemistry this week we have done the smae thing over and over and aaaaaarrggghhhh)
3. Falling in love with your best friend.
Is it not possible for two likeable people of the opposite gender to be friends without falling in love. This happens in so many books, and it is so irritating. At least Celanea and Rowan didn’t fall in love (or, like, become friends)
4. Lose memories at the end of the series.
I can only think of two or three that do this, and I wonm’t list them because spoilers, but can I justsay that there is no better way to make your readers angry. (And I’m pretty sure that if you read the book I’m thinking of you are upset too. The Feeeeeelllllllls)
5. Someone close betrays the good side.
So this trope is exactly what it sounds like and I don’t actually mind it. Some examples I can think of are Divergent, The Ask and the Answer, The Infernal Devices and Jacob have I loved (this isn’t too spoilery because they are all very different kinds of betrayal). It actually makes relationships in the book really interesting.
6. Rebel the Rebellion.
There are some very obvious examples of this one and I have to say that it is pretty irritating. I think that this causes a lot of violence and it is way better when the characters are prepared to negotiate with people, because then fewer people die. (This is why I absolutely loved Echoes of us by Kat Zhang)
7.Doesn’t know that he/she is good-looking
It is okay to acknowledge how you look. It is phenomenally irritating when there are boys (this mostly happens to girls) falling at the MC’s feet and she is still like “Well I’m not that attractive” Not all teenage girls are insecure, and I think it should be okay to think that you are pretty- not in a vain way, just in a truthful way.
8. Didn’t know that they were extra super special.
Look, if you are that amazing, you might have noticed it already maybe. If you aren’t that special, how come you can deal with everything that is thrown at you with such equanamity and extraordinariness? What happens to the people who fall into the magic world and just want to go home and be safe?
Why do literary tropes exist? Why do we see the same things over and over in the books we read? For me it might just be because I almost exclusively read YA, and there is a very clear idea of what is appealing or a good plot in this genre. But millions of books have been written in the history of the world, so inevitably some things pop up over and over.
Do these tropes exist because all authors think the same way? Doubtful. Do these stereotypes happen because readers don’t like originality? Once again, unlikely. Do the same thing keep turning up in books because some themes, ideas and emotions are universal, and authors sometimes need to use stereotypes to tell their stories effectively.
I think this is why similar ideas feature in different books. I think that to tell an engaging (my favourite word this week) there need to be some betrayals and some lost memories. Especially for third person books, physical descriptions can be a way of showing what is important about the character. Sometimes people can’t talk, so they communicate with thier eyes. Rebelling the rebellion tells a fascinating story about the MC’s values, and extra super special people are in unique (and often intriguing) positions to manipulate the world around them.
Maybe a book shouldn’t have every single trope ever. But these stereotypes are interesting, which is why they exist, and enough people like them to make books featuring stereotypes horridly popular.