Monday, July 15, 2013

Not My Favorite Tropes

Good Monday,

Last week I discussed the difference between genre conventions and tropes. This week I promised to reveal a few tropes and why I am sick to death of them. Here goes.

-“Super Macho Man”

You know who I mean. It’s the hero who’s no less than 6 ft 5. He wouldn’t be caught dead (or alive…or undead) in anything that isn’t black leather; he rides a magically pumped up motor cycle of some kind; forget a tall building in a single bound, he can get about 4 or 5 in there, and he’s got tats (but no, call them tribal/dark magic markings or suffer his wrath).

Oh, I almost “forgot,” he’s, like, super-amazing in bed. This guy’s been all over, done stuff with women all over (alive, undead, dead), and is an expert in every form of pleasure (way more than any “normal” human male). Best part? He never gets distracted or makes a mistake during sex. Even if the hoard of demons/vampires/zombies/whatevers chooses the hot-and-heavy moment to charge over the wall, his woman is getting off. And, somehow, they’ll still manage to escape the hordes. Don’t even get me started on the body. If I read the words “chiseled six-pack” one more time…. *sigh*

K, who’s reading this and hurling insults at me because I insulted the hot urban fantasy hero? Get over it. Lol. No, seriously. I’m not saying this guy can’t be written well. I’m just saying I’m sick of seeing him.

-Female version of the above

This one irritates me even more. “I’m 4 ft 11. I always wear black leather (which I look smokin’ hot in, fyi). I am an expert at every type of martial arts on the planet. I can wield every weapon on the planet (that’s swords and guns, b*tches). I’m probably blonde (the better for my hair to stand out against my black leather). I’m hot, and you know it, and I, like my male counterpart, am the sh*t in bed.”

Blech. Be a real person. I’m sorry, but even the most trained warrior of the 4 ft 11 variety cannot take a foe three times her size down without earning a scratch. Er, unless she’s in an urban fantasy novel. Then she can. My bad.

-Vampires and zombies that are “emotionally scarred” or “sexy”

I know I’ve ranted on this before. Vampires are undead. THEY ARE NOT SEXY!!!

Same goes for zombies. They eat brains for crying out loud. I’d be really concerned if I got into a relationship with a zombie.
“So, what do you want for dinner?”
“You.” *bashes skull in and feasts*

Oh man, shiver.

As far as the “emotionally scarred” thing goes, I’m all for putting twists on mythical creatures. I do it all the time. But can the twists be different every so often? Emotionally scarred vamps/zombies had their time. They’re done. Let them crawl/shuffle back into their lairs.

-Chosen one

“You are the one. The one who will lead our nation/country/world back to greatness. Oh, by the way, you’ve been living in a tiny place in the middle of nowhere that is far from any trace of magic—the magic that you’ll need to save the world. You’re nineteen, you say? Excellent, the world is scheduled to end sometime when you’re twenty. Get learning.”

While this makes for a lot of tension and stress (and tears) on the protagonists part, it’s the backbone for almost every epic fantasy novel/series I remember reading before college (and a few after). It’s not just epic fantasy either. Poor Harry Potter fell victim to the chosen one fate. But Rowling did a good job with it. And then everyone else tried to do the same because HP was so successful. Point, I enjoy the chosen one storyline. I just want to see it disappear for a little while.

-“The fate of the world rests on finding the magic sword/lamp/orb/talking cat”

I love enchanted artifacts. When I was a kid, I spent hours combing through my dad’s Dungeons and Dragons books in search of cool items I could pretend were real. There are so many neat things in those books.

Unfortunately, I seem to have not been the only one on that band wagon. Writers everywhere opened up the Player’s Handbook and/or Dungeon Master’s Guide and sifted through the myriad of magical items. They found the one they wanted, maybe tweaked it a little, and stuck it at the center of a book. A band of merry heroes was than instituted to find said object and rid the world of the plagues of evil.

This storyline, for me, is similar to the chosen one idea. I enjoy it. I really find it fun and interesting to read. It just started with “Lord of the Rings” and didn’t stop. Maybe if the object was a talking cat I’d read it. For right now, though, I don’t think we need any more all-powerful artifacts that “in the wrong hands could bring destruction on a scale the likes of which we have never seen.”

For more tropes that aren’t my favorite, see this post from back in February.

As always, thanks for reading.

-Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

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