Nine Tropes I Love

Recently, I started reading a time travel steampunk, and I expected to like it because it seemed to contain two tropes that I love–steampunk (who can resist the blend of science and fancy?) and fish-out-of-water due to time travel. However, I was disappointed when chapter two advanced the clock by about six months, making the character mostly comfortable with the time period by the time the chapter starts. This made me feel slightly disappointed, and while I’m sure I’ll go back to reading it soon, right now I have some rather irresistible books and it was rather easy to set aside.

(What are the irresistible books, you ask? The second Mistborn novel, The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith (a #1 Ladies Detective Agency story) and Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear (a Maisie Dobbs story).)

Any, my experience with the steampunk novel, which will remain unnamed for now, inspired this post on Tropes I Love. So here are the tropes I almost never tire of reading about:


Warrior Women. I mentioned this in my post, 10 Blurb Elements that Work For Me, so I won’t go into detail again.

Disheartened Nobleman. I love a world-weary young nobleman–preferably a knight–going home after being disappointed by life somehow and expecting things to be familiar and comforting, but finding only trouble instead. Can I think of a novel that meets this rather specific scenario? I suppose Dragons of Autumn Twilight would be an example, but that’s not really what I have in mind. I guess I have not read a novel like this in a while.

Obscure Hero. I guess I’m enjoying the Mistborn novels because the heroine, Vin, is of obscure origins.

Immortal and Otherworldly Race. I admit it. I loved elves. I was disappointed to see that trope become a thing of the past. I thought it was so cool to have this race that was apart and above mortals, yet who yearned to be with mortals nevertheless.

Forbidden Magic. I’m not usually big on magic-using heroes–I prefer a normal hero to overcome insurmountable odds to defeat a magic-using villain–but if they do have magic, I like to to be forbidden. Make the penalty for using magic something horrific and I take note.

Magic Music. I’m a musician, and I love it when an author can make a magic system based on music work. It’s not fantasy, but Anne McCaffrey’s Crystal Singer did this quite well.

Here’s a mystery trope.

Forbidden Love. This seems to work better with mystery series than with fantasies. This is where the man and the woman can’t get together somehow, but they must work together. One reason I want to read the next Maisie Dobbs novel so much is I’m wondering if this book is the one that at last will acknowledge the attraction between Maisie and Detective Inspector Stratton. It’s gotten almost that I expect a forbidden love trope with my mystery series.

And some general purpose tropes

Fish out of Water. As I mentioned above, I just love these, especially in time travel stories. Who could forget George McFly showing Marty how to pop the top off a soda bottle in Back to the Future? But it also works as a clash of cultures, such as in Shogun. Just today on TV, Enemy Mine was playing, which is a classic science fiction clash of cultures. Nobles having to adjust to being common also work with this trope, as do commoners who have to adjust to becoming noble. It’s just fun.

Exploring a New or Forgotten Place. This comes up in all kinds of genres. It was in Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama when they opened the alien ship. It was in every Indiana Jones movie made. It was in The Warded Man, when Arlen finally found the wards. It was in Northanger Abbey when Catherine pretends to be ill so she can sneak around the abbey.

What kind of tropes do you enjoy reading? Have I missed something obvious? (Besides fairy tales, that is?)

4 Thoughts to “Nine Tropes I Love”

  1. I love…

    Obscure Hero
    Forbidden Love
    Fish Out of Water
    Exploring a New or Forgotten Race

  2. I loved elves too. 🙁 Maybe it’s time for a vampire elf (has this been done yet?)

  3. Tia Nevitt

    Since vampires would be in a post entitled “Tropes I hate”, I’m not waiting for vampire elves any time soon! But I bet someone has thought of them.

  4. I love when cultures meet. Not just fish-out-of-water, but other versions of culture clash, and other types of cultural exchange, too. I suspect it’s because Hawai’i is multicultural enough, cultural exchange and culture clash are part of our way of life. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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