Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. This week’s discussion is all about clichés and tropes, and it’s a topic that I suggested, so I’m looking forward to diving in.
A trope is an element that occurs regularly across literature and media, and could be related to plot, character, or setting etc. All books have tropes, but it’s how the author utilises them that makes each book unique. A cliché often occurs when a trope has been overused, or has been used too similarly too often. Clichés can be irritating because we see them so often, they have become something that makes us roll our eyes because it’s become so predictable.
Tropes are the backbone of literature. Identifying tropes can be a great way for readers to find new books they might enjoy, and they are great for marketers too. If a reader knows they enjoyed a trope, they can look for other books that have that trope. Examples of popular tropes include enemies-to-lovers romance, friends-to-lovers romance, the chosen one and the outsider protagonist.
I don’t often enjoy clichés, unless they are done in a tongue-in-cheek way. If I know what tropes I like and dislike, I know which new books to avoid and which to hone in on. Though I think I’m still learning what kind of tropes I enjoy, and some of it can be down to how the author has used the trope. I love it when an author takes a well-known trope and puts a really unique spin on it. But at the same time, the familiarity of tropes can also be very satisfying.
It’s also great to see tropes being told in different ways by diverse authors, whether they are AOC, LGBTQ+ or disabled. Tropes and cliches that we’ve seen told over and over again by straight, white, able-bodied writers can be told a totally different way by other authors who have a different perspective on those stories.
Another thing I’d like to discuss is another angle to clichés, which lies in clichés/stereotypes around particularly groups of people in society. Some clichés can be harmful for marginalised groups. When clichés about race, sexuality, disability or mental health are used in literature or media, they often present an unrealistic view and can perpetuate harmful stereotypes. It’s important for authors to be mindful about these so they aren’t contributing to misrepresentation and misperceptions, which is just one reason why sensitivity readers are important.
To round off this discussion, tropes aren’t a bad thing. They are a vital part of a book’s makeup. They can be done well, and they can be done badly sometimes, but one thing I’ve learnt is not to dismiss a trope having read one book with it that I didn’t enjoy. Because there are so many ways to write tropes, that even if I didn’t like one book, I might love another author’s take on it.
What tropes do you love? Are there any you avoid? Chat with me in the comments!