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Extremely Specific Tropes I Like and Dislike

Hello friends! I know I’m not the only blogger who has strong feelings about extremely specific tropes in books. In most cases, these are not ‘big’ tropes that influence the whole novel or the character arc – like the chosen one trope does, for example – rather, they are smaller instances or are just more specific than other tropes.

Today, I brought you six of such tropes – three incredible and three terrible ones – and I’m looking forward to discussing them with you!

The Good.

#1: THERE’S ONLY ONE BED

WHY I LOVE IT: I love forced proximity in general, and I particularly love it when characters are forced by their circumstances to live together, or work together, or anything of the sort. However, that’s not exactly a specific trope, is it? The “there’s only one bed” trope, though, is rather specific and one that takes forced proximity to another level. The tension and the awkwardness that ensues from having to share a bed is always fun to read about.

AN EXAMPLE: That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert is the perfect example of this trope! Rae and Zach have been friends for a while, but their relationship takes an… interesting turn when they enter into a fake relationship and are forced to share a bed for multiple days.


#2: FAST FORMING FRIENDSHIPS

WHY I LOVE IT: Don’t get me wrong, I adore reading about deep friendships that have existed for years in the characters’ lives. But I also love it when a character meets someone – or multiple someones – and they have this instant connection, and bam, they’re friends! It’s so wholesome, especially if the MC didn’t really have any close friends up to that point.

AN EXAMPLE: Frances and Aled from Radio Silence are a damn good example of this trope, even though they’ve technically known each other for a while, they just never talked. When they do start to talk, however, they realize that they have similar interests, including the podcast Aled created, which makes their friendship really lovely from the get go.


#3: KISSING AS A DISTRACTION FROM BEING CAUGHT

WHY I LOVE IT: This is, simply put, one of the best romance tropes!! It’s super cute and it can actually move the plot ahead: the kiss can be another step towards the characters recognizing and admitting their feelings for each other.

AN EXAMPLE: I had to rack my brain to find an example for this, and the only good one I could come up with is in the Ruby Red series, although I’m not quite sure in which book. ๐Ÿ™ˆ (Possibly in the second one?) I like this example not only because I was a massive fan of this trilogy as a teen, but also because the time travel aspect adds a fun twist to this scene.


The Bad.

#1: POP CULTURE REFERENCES

WHY I HATE IT: I feel like we, as a society, have surpassed the need for pop culture references? I suppose one or two references are fine – though, those 1-2 are basically always Harry Potter related – but a lot of them? Please, don’t do that! It makes a book feel dated super-fast, which is obviously not ideal. Granted, some books have done a good job of referencing books or other forms of media, but still, is there really a need for these? I don’t think so. (Unless they somehow fit into the plot, I suppose.)


#2: PRETENTIOUS QUOTES AND MUSINGS

WHY I HATE IT: Okay, here’s the thing – I love to read about characters with hobbies, interests, or characters who have accumulated a great amount of knowledge in a certain area. Tash in Tash Hearts Tolstoy, for instance, is an aspiring director who is so smart with the camera and shares a lot about film-making with the reader. I love that!

What I don’t love is when a character shares quotes or knowledge that does not fit into the story. A few weeks ago I read a mystery-thriller where the protagonist, whose daughter has been kidnapped, kept mentioning and quoting philosophers. I understand that philosophy was her area of knowledge, but would a worried parent really be quoting her favorite philosophers in such a situation?


#3: THE MENTOR WHO WITHHOLDS INFORMATION

WHY I HATE IT: It’s absolutely ridiculous when a mentor (or a parent figure) withholds information from their mentee (or child) even when said mentee needs that information badly. This happens in some incredibly popular series, and it’s always so frustrating to see because it’s so fucking illogical. If you, as a powerful figure, give someone a task that will decide the future of the world, you would be as clear about what to do as possible, right? Similarly, if you want to protect someone you love, you will not withhold information that could help them survive!

I fully understand that having a mentor who shares everything with the protagonist at the beginning of the story could make the plot too simple/easy. Even so, in my opinion, writers who can’t figure out how to solve this issue are not terribly good writers. ๐Ÿ™ˆ There are ways to go around this problem, e.g. by having a mentor who doesn’t know everything or who’s wrong about certain things. Or, in YA and MG, we could have a mentor who thought they had time to share their knowledge with their mentee but they died unexpectedly, leaving the mentee to search for answers on their own.


Let’s chat!

What do you think about these tropes? Do you have any book recommendations for my three favorite specific tropes? What are some specific and/or small tropes you like and dislike?

49 thoughts on “Extremely Specific Tropes I Like and Dislike

  1. i don’t know why, but i love reading about people’s favorite and least favorite tropes! it just gives me so much serotonin, so thank you for this post ๐Ÿฅบ tbh, i don’t think i’ve read a book with there’s only one bed in a while, and that really needs to change! and i love fast forming friendships too! i really think that there are some people in life who you just click with and become close friends with within days/weeks. as for the kissing as a distraction trope, i don’t recall reading any book with it, but the kdrama crash landing on you has it, and it’s *chef’s kiss* haha.

    omg i feel you about pop culture references!! seriously, do authors think we’ll relate to the characters more if they constantly reference pop culture? they do nothing for me, and like you said, they make the book feel dated. tbh it’s been so long since i read a ya contemporary that didn’t reference That Series ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ hopefully, now that jkr has shown her ass time and time again, we’ll finally see less of them

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    1. Same, it’s interesting to see what tropes people like and dislike. Haha, I’m glad you enjoyed it. ๐Ÿฅฐ There’s only one bed is such a good trope. You could put it into every single book I read (that has a romance) and I’d be content. ๐Ÿฅบ Right, there are definitely friendships like that, and I love reading about them. I’ve never watched any kdramas, because they seem so stressful/angsty, but I’ve heard so much about Crash Landing on You this year. ๐Ÿ‘€

      I have no idea!! And why on earth is it always That Series!? Just choose something, ANYTHING, else if you must use a pop culture reference. ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ Ahh, I hope so! But then again, she’s been problematic for years, and still I found her in at least one 2020 release I’ve read. ๐Ÿค

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  2. Yes and no to all of these!! The only one bed trope never gets old and I will gladly accept it as an excuse for characters to finally get together everytime ๐Ÿ˜‚. And the kiss as a distraction trope!! Iโ€™m currently reading Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena, and it happens in the story! Instant friendships are always so wholesome to see and thatโ€™s honestly how I prefer most of mine to form ๐Ÿ˜‚. Also, Iโ€™m so happy you mentioned the quotes thing, and your anecdote about the book you read honestly made me laugh hahaha. Thereโ€™s always those lines (especially in YA romances ๐Ÿ˜…) that I think are supposed to impress me, but they just make me cringe ๐Ÿ˜ท. Awesome post, Veronika ๐Ÿ˜„!

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    1. Exactly – I could read the “there’s only one bed” trope in every romance, and I’d still love it. It’s so! cute! ๐Ÿฅฐ I haven’t heard of Hunted by the Skye yet, but it looks great. ๐Ÿ‘€ Yeah, and those lines are anything but impressive, especially when they have no place being there. Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Oh I LOVE reading about tropes that people like and dislike! ๐Ÿ˜€ The โ€œthereโ€™s only one bedโ€ trope is truly superior. And yesss Frances and Aled are the perfect example of the fast forming friendship. I love it when two characters are so compatible that this instant trust and friendship forms between them โ€“ so good!!
    Ahaha there really are always Harry Potter references, huh?? I donโ€™t mind pop culture references much of the time, as long as theyโ€™re not crucial to understanding the story. Though they can be annoying if thereโ€™s too many. And wow, yes, the mentor withholding info is SO annoying. Just tell the MC everything and itโ€™ll be so much easier!!!
    Thanks for sharing these, this was so fun to read ๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and I agree – reading about tropes people like and dislike is always interesting. ๐Ÿฅฐ I was just thinking that Frances and Aled are also a good example of “knowing” each other while not truly *knowing* each other, and then finding out that they make perfect friends. I love that, too. I’m so done with Harry Potter references. :/ Thank you! ๐Ÿฅฐ

      Like

  4. Your dislikes were interesting for me, especially the third one. Is that something that pops up in SFF books, because I cannot find an example in my own mind, though I know what you are talking about. I don’t mind some pop culture, but I have venting about the never ending HP references. I am hoping we see less of them in the years to come. There’s a few authors whose books will be reduced by quite a few pages without all the HP refs.

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    1. I wouldn’t say it happens *all the time* but I’ve seen it enough times to be annoyed by it. If you think about it, Harry Potter is actually a good example of it – Dumbledore has so much time to tell Harry everything (he *knows* he’s going to die, so him dying is no excuse), and he chooses to be cryptic instead. Same about HP references, I’m so so so done with them.. :/

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  5. When I clicked on this post I was wondering “what are these incredibly specific tropes”? Then every single one I was like “oh my god yes that” ๐Ÿ˜‚ Especially only one bed – I love when that comes up. To get even more specific – when one of them wakes up the next morning, discovers the other person is cuddling them, then can’t move for fear of disturbing them. Utter brilliance!

    I completely agree with you about pretentious quotes – there’s some where you can tell the author just thought of something they wanted on a poster then had to stick it in somewhere ๐Ÿ˜‚ This is such a fun post! โค

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    1. Oh my god, Abi, you just took the trope I mentioned and made it even more better. ๐Ÿฅบ Also, when they wake up cuddling and feel awkward so they pretend to be asleep, I love that version too. ๐Ÿฅบ

      That’s exactly what pretentious quotes feel like – also, like the author’s trying to prove how smart they are. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Thank you!

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  6. KISSING TO NOT GET CAUGHT IS MY FAVE and the characters pull away and they’re flustered cause they noticed they have feelings for each other and then it’s just yearning
    And the mentors not telling the MC important info is so annoying, because in the end a lot of what happens could’ve been avoided

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  7. I wholeheartedly agree with all six!! Also, please tell me that you have It Sounded Better in my Head by Nina Kenwood on your TBR. Seriously, one of the best coming-of-age stories I’ve read this year, PLUS there’s only one bed trope!!

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  8. I have always thought that pop culture references irked me, and you have really put my thoughts into words! First of all it’s super annoying how like you said, they’re almost always HP related. Whenever a character starts off a conversation by saying: “I’m Ravenclaw” I just wanna be like: “NO! Talk about something else, please!!” I feel like often pop culture references just serve as fillers. They serve no purpose, and are really cheesy in my opinion.

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    1. I’m so so so done with HP references especially.. but yes, also with all pop culture references. I agree with you – they feel so cheesy AND can feel kind of forced, as well. The only time I remember talking about being a Slytherin with a friend was when we saw Harry Potter pajamas in a shop. It doesn’t come up in a normal conversation!

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  9. I can only take so many pop culture references in books. It works in something like Ready Player One because that book is a love letter to geek culture of the 80s and 90s, but if it’s just a regular YA contemporary I don’t want to constant read “this is just like that time in that one book/movie/TV show” because then it starts to feel like it was written by the crew of Family Guy.

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  10. The whole pop culture thing is why I can’t stand a ton of contemporary YA books tbh. Generally if reading a book makes me feel like I’m looking at a Tumblr post I nope the heck out of it.

    Also, there was only one bed and kissing as a form of distraction are GOD-TIER TROPES.

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  11. Romance tropes are some of my favorite things, and there’s only one bed is the best of the best! Besides the fact that I love it because it gets characters to snuggle half the time, there’s just so much banter and flirting involved with this trope, and it just develops the relationship so well! While I used to love kissing someone to provide distraction from being caught, more recently I’ve hated this trope because I haven’t liked how consent was handled. I get that there’s a purpose behind this random, unasked for kiss, but it still doesn’t sit right with me.

    But I do love fast friendships when they’re done right! I think I can relate to them, because I knew right from meeting so many of my closest friends, that we would get along great together! So I totally understand the feeling of immediately feeling understood by someone else and creating a friendship out of that!

    As for the over-use of pop culture, I mostly hate it because I just don’t get the references! Authors will start spouting music and movie and even bookish trivia and I’m just super confused! Especially when at first I don’t get that they’re referencing something, and so I just think that I missed something earlier in the book. So yes, the fewer the pop culture references, the better, in my opinion!

    And while sometimes I don’t mind pretentious musings, other times it just takes me out of a story. For example, one of my most recent reads has lots of random poetry readings in it, and I don’t easily understand poetry, especially ones that are heavily based on metaphor like these specific ones were. It really brought down my enjoyment of the book, in the end! (Although there were many other reasons I disliked the book.)

    But the withholding mentor just straight up makes no sense! Like, your whole job is to provide guidance and information! By keeping something from the protagonist, you’re failing at your one job!

    This was such a great post! I loved seeing all the super specific tropes you liked and disliked and would love to see a part 2!

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    1. Romance tropes are the best kind of tropes, istg. And yes, I agree with everything you said about there’s only one bed, it’s such a wholesome trope, oh my god. ๐Ÿฅบ Oh, I regrettably haven’t thought of the issue with consent. ๐Ÿ™ˆ But you’re absolutely right about this, it’d be near impossible to introduce consent into this situation.

      Right, I definitely relate to the fast forming friendship trope! Some friendships do form like that and it’s so nice to see that happen in books, too. Generally speaking, I feel like we’ve seen quite varied versions of friendships in the past few years, which is great! When I started reading YA as a teen, most books didn’t have great friendships. :/

      That’s a good point about pop culture references – sometimes I just don’t know what they’re talking about, which is frustrating. :/ I’ve seen a book use HP references over and over again, and now I wonder how someone who hasn’t read the books/watched the films would have interpreted them. I hate missing the “jokes.”

      Ugh, that sounds so frustrating about your recent read… I’m not a fan of poetry, so I understand that that would be annoying. :/

      Exactly!! It’s the most illogical trope I know, and that makes it incredibly frustrating to read.. :/

      Thank you! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  12. I loved this post! I totally agree with you about loving the there’s only one bed trope, I truly die for this one every time!! I just love the awkwardness that soon turns into flirting *chef’s kiss*

    I also really like the trope where a strongly independent character is sick or hurt in some way and the other person has to take care of them. That’s a really specific trope, but I feel like it is just so sweet and cute! I love either seeing the care put into taking care of someone you love, or the tension and then softening of a hate to love relationship when this happens! I don’t know, something about seeing a fiercely independent character soften and allow someone in close enough to take care of them is just so sweet to me. An example that comes to mind is Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert!

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    1. Thank you! ๐Ÿฅฐ Oh, yes, the there’s only one bed trope is so wholesome and cute, I adore it. ๐Ÿฅฐ

      Ooh, that’s an excellent trope! And I love how it’s done in Get a Life, Chloe Brown (that book is perfect.) I also like the version when the characters are not super close yet, and the grumpier character has to take care of the other, and is so worried about them. ๐Ÿฅฐ

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  13. Wow, I love this post so much!! It was so well-organized and I agree with pretty much everything you said here.๐Ÿ’— “There’s only one bed” is such a classic trope, but every time it shows up in books or movies I love it! It’s just so cute how it subtly makes the characters question how they feel about each other. I also do love fast forming friendships- I hadn’t realized how much I do until reading this post! It makes me happy to see characters forming instant connections, especially since a lot of friendships in real life are often formed that way or through common circumstances, like having a similar class at school or meeting in a random place.

    I definitely agree with you on pop culture references! Not only can apparently no one make any references besides Harry Potter, but it just dates the novel and I can imagine it’ll be a turn off for readers in future years who are trying to enjoy a backlist book. Amazing post! xx

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    1. Thank you so much! ๐Ÿ’— There’s only one bed is such an incredible trope – I could probably read it in every romance ever, and I’d still not get bored of it. Right? I love those friendships, because some of mine have also been formed that way.

      Exactly! And it’s interesting that no one in the comments here said they like pop culture references, so that makes me wonder why they are put into so many books. :/ Thank you!

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  14. Ah what a great idea for a post, I love it so much, I love reading about tropes ๐Ÿฅฐ I haven’t read a lot of books with the “there’s only one bed” trope, but I enjoy it SO much I want to read more of it for sure, it’s always awkward and cute and I love it. Last time I encountered it, it was in this lovely contemporary, it sounded better in my head, and I LOVED IT ๐Ÿฅฐ
    I so agree about the pop culture references, as well, they’re really tiring after a while :/
    Loved this!! ๐Ÿฅฐ

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    1. Thank you, Marie! ๐Ÿฅฐ Ah, yes, the there’s only one bed trope could be in every romance I read, and I’d still enjoy it, haha. You’re the second person to mention It Sounded Better in My Head, I’m going to start it asap. Everyone in the comments said they dislike pop culture references.. makes me wonder why they are in so many books. :/

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  15. There’s only one bed is a really fun one! And I like kissing as a distraction and fast forming friendships. I’m really not a fan of pop culture references either (and yeah there are way too many HP references- which I don’t get- and especially annoys me when the author pretends like it’s something really geeky and obscure). Absolutely hate the mentor that withholds information and pretentious quotes too!

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    1. Ah, I’m glad to hear we agree on all of these! ๐Ÿ™‚ Ugh, I haven’t even thought of that, but yes, I hate when a character loving HP is treated as a surprise. Everyone has read it!! And when the parents have NO IDEA what HP is even about… I understand not reading/watching it, but I don’t believe that they’ve never come across it…

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  16. Sometimes I feel like pop culture references come off as like a “hey look how quirky I am, I know what this is hehehehe” and it annoys me lol

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  17. Such a fantastic post! ๐Ÿฅฐ I definitely love instant friendships as well – especially between two girls – it’s just so lovely to see two characters immediately clicking and becoming friends ๐Ÿ˜Š I also need more hugs in books, a lot of characters definitely need one ๐Ÿฅบ I actually like pop culture references if it’s done well. Some books are great with being nerdy and referencing other media in an organic way, but I’ve also read books that feel so much like fanservice and cram too many references into the book ๐Ÿ˜…

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    1. Thank you, Caro!! ๐Ÿ˜Š Ah, instant friendship between girls are the best!! Now I’m kicking myself for not thinking of an example like that. Yes, a lot of my favorites also need hugs. ๐Ÿฅบ Oh, you’re the first person to say they like pop culture references!! I agree in that they can be done right, even if I’m not a fan of them myself.

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