Just Because It’s A Trope Doesn’t Mean It’s Bad

Tropes are themes or devices used so often they’ve become a common convention in a given genre.

If you spend any amount of time lurking on Twitter, specifically the Publishing Twitter sphere, you’ve probably seen someone toss out the sentiment that tropes are bad and should be avoided at all costs. There’s always that one grumpy person eager to give out bad advice, who is proud to proclaim their novel is entirely free of tropes (not likely) and anyone who uses them is a terrible writer (false).

I’m here to tell you: no. Tropes are not inherently bad. It’s how they’re used that can make or break a novel.

I’ll be the first to freely admit that I’m always on the prowl for novels with certain tropes. Why? Because I cannot get enough of what that specific setup or situation offers to the story. Ever heard of enemies-to-lovers? Yeah, I am that girl who will buy any book that vaguely hints at a relationship containing this trope. A group of ne’er-do-wells who become found family? Count me in. I will die for them. I never tire of reading about that stuff.

Tropes do not have to be avoided. Embrace them. Learn to twist them to your advantage and create something new out of them. Try defying expectations and subverting a trope. You could even deconstruct a classic trope and delve deeper into the hidden meaning behind what’s happening.

But frankly, you don’t have to do any of this to use a good ol’ fashioned trope. (Except the White Savior. Let’s kindly leave that one lying in an unmarked grave where it belongs.)

If there is a certain trope you personally enjoy, then write it into your story to your heart’s content. Write for yourself first. While you’ll never be able to please everyone, I promise you that there are others out there who enjoy the same tropes you do.

So don’t be afraid to revel in a trope or two. Sometimes that’s exactly what the reader is looking for.

This article has been cross-posted from Medium.

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