Authors take note: the internet is a great resource for finding out what your readers love and hate. Certainly, I’m not suggesting you take all the advice. I have no idea how many books these people have read. Though, they are on Reddit all the time, so… they probably spend a lot of time alone with their books.
Writing is a tough business. Anyone who actually finishes a piece of fiction and gets it published is deserving of respect and admiration. However, some people phone it in with easy plot devices and wooden characters. Some of the most celebrated books in history fall prey to these issues. Readers, as Borges said, are doing something much more intellectual than writers. And this list of common awful tropes proves that point. Readers are often thinking harder about what they’re reading than the writer who spat it all on the page. Not always. Maybe not even most of the time, but surely the people who write on the internet what they like and dislike about a book fall into that category of reader.
Someone on Reddit wanted to know: “What are some common tropes in books that you hate?” Readers all over the internet flocked to give an answer.
I hope you don’t find this post strictly negative. We’re not here to judge authors (unless they’re dead and were famous for being an asshole). We are, however, here to find others who share our pet peeves, and hopefully let authors get a better understanding of what readers like.
Let’s see what people think are the most heinous cliché authors use in their novels:
“Miscommunication leading to conflict.
Especially when the characters point blank refuse to utter another word to each other, even when a simple sentence of explanation could resolve the entire problem.
Forced drama like that makes me hate a book.” –MyVeloute
“Bad guy/group who never gives up. Like ever. Even right before imminent death, not a shadow of hesitation.” –that_one_isnt_taken
“Two people of opposite sex have to solve this problem together. There is no way in hell that they aren’t going to fall in love, that would just be weird. What are friends or colleagues?” –MonkeyBeanSalad
“I love urban fantasy books, though they often fall into paranormal romance, which I don’t care for quite as much. I can always tell when it’s going to get romantic and who the protagonist is going to be romantic with because it will always describe the guy’s pants.” –gothichomemaker
“When the main character is a Plain Jane and dogging herself out throughout the entire book until the snarky blonde boy says she’s beautiful/like a firecracker/not like other girls/Sooooo unique.” –TheSilverCrystal
“Protagonists who refuse to respect their friends’ ability to make their own decisions in some misguided attempt to “protect” them.” –blankbox11
“As a woman who married a widower, I really dislike romances where one of them was married before, and even if he or she thought it was a happy relationship, they have to find out how secretly evil and twisted their first love was before they can fall in love with the new love interest. Like… it’s possible to be in love more than once in your life. It doesn’t undervalue your present relationship to say your last one was also good. Especially when the person is dead.” –Far-Adagio4032
“Tragic backstories that are never brought up again after they’re introduced or effect the character. Only ever used for cheap sympathy.” –TippedWalrus
“The main character carrying a terrible, horrendous, shameful burden that is alluded to constantly. Turns out to be something very common.” –zeropercentsurprised
“Making a girl obnoxious and extremely confrontational means they’re strong and independent. This is also done purely because the character is a girl.
There are so many better ways to portray this but some authors get really weird when writing women.” –AbbaFanClub
“Beautiful young ingénue (who is incredibly attractive and somehow doesn’t realise it) meets older, emotionally damaged man, and fixes him. A la 50 shades of grey.” –magical_elf
“Fake dating. Is my life just boring because I have never met anyone who has ever participated in fake dating. Seems so stupid and unrealistic to me.” –ermyneeandwheezy
“Hard-drinking, heavy-smoking, emotionally-disconnected, gruff-rough-and-tough, rumpled-trench-coat-wearing, middle-aged, wife-left-me-because-I’m-a-shitty-husband, blues/jazz-loving, I’ll-do-it-my-way, hang-the-consequences, lone-wolf detective that manages to always get-their-man. Yawn.” –Finiam
“How about the ” I’m just an average teenage girl…who has superpowers….three love interests….always getting into trouble and then miraculously saved. Blame everyone for my problems and never take responsibility. And by the final book in my series I will not have learned or grown in any way but I’m still somehow the heroine” trope.” –eriebee
“The families opposition in a relationship and particularly the excessively rich family who do there best to destroy this relationship.” –AaroufGangsta
“As a twin myself, pretty much every twin-related trope you can think of. No, we’re not creepy or psychic, we’re not two halves of the same coin, one of us is not the evil one, and we both don’t want to have sex with you. Thanks.” –IndytheIntrepid
“The amnesiac spy. Bourne was good. Everyone else sucks.” –blacksad1
“The main character just being good at everything. Like Ready Player One when he had just consumed 4 decades of content and was the best at every old game by the time he was a teen, somehow. Man that book sucked.” –Hoosteen_juju003
“Prophecy. It’s mostly another word for plot armor. As soon as it’s introduced, there isn’t much tension to the conflict anymore.
Now it does work when the prophecy was fake or misinterpreted since that creates a discussion on blind faith or the characters are suddenly in real danger because the higher powers aren’t looking out for them.” -anonymous
“Rape as a defining part of like 70% of female fantasy characters arks.” –Behemothgod
“I really felt by book 6, they should have believed Harry Potter when he said someone was up to something.” –CJNeal76
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