I talk about many books I love and a few that I was unimpressed with but I haven’t done a full-on rant yet. I’m not going to be ranting about any books in particular but I will be highlighting tropes that I feel need to be thrown in the literary trash heap of things writers need to stop doing. These are in no particular order. I hope some of you share my opinion or maybe have a horrible trope that I didn’t mention.
Questionable Consent – I don’t know when we started thinking it was sexy for one character to reluctantly give into another character’s romantic desires but I think this one needs to die. Either both characters are in a relationship or they aren’t. Pressuring someone into a relationship isn’t attractive and we need to stop portraying this in novels.
Indecisive Characters – Indecision is a perfectly viable plot device that can be used correctly to develop a character but your character ought to make a damn decision. This especially happens with female characters who are caught in some stupid love triangle. If you’re going to have your character face a tough decision, make it matter.
Needless Character Deaths – Character deaths can be essential to a story, especially depending on the genre of story. That being said, even if the character shows up just to die or begins the story being dead, make it matter. Don’t let this person die for no good reason and don’t forget about their death. Make sure to refer back to the death as being important, regardless of if the character is good or bad or in between. Don’t kill off just because you want to.
Mental Illness as a Quirk – If you want to write about a character with mental illness then go for it but make sure that you are giving a realistic portrayal. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I can tell you that panic attacks aren’t “cute” nor am I looking for someone who will “cure” me. Don’t try to romanticize mental health issues, or even physical health issues.
Uneven Couples – It’s a perfectly normal part of romance literature to create couple that are opposites but don’t make your characters so opposite that they are basically incompatible. I hate when you’re reading a book and one half of the couple is some sort of perfect, successful, angel while the other person is basically a pile of trash. It’s especially worse when the perfect one tries to “fix” the garbage one. Write your couples better.
Main Characters with Stupid Problems – The whole point of your main character is to give them actual serious problems to solve. Don’t juxtapose your character’s problems with a side character’s problems who are significantly worse. I’m not going to care if the main character can’t pick which shirt to wear when their friend is dealing with a broken leg or something.
Too Much Perfection – We want our characters to have redeeming qualities but you have to balance them out with some weaknesses. Even if we’re talking physical qualities, don’t make your character unbelievably perfect. Make them a little human, at least.
The Punching Bag – If you’re writing an action-based story, make sure your character actually does react to pain like a normal person. Sure, your character might have a more strength or endurance than an average human but they should still react to an injury like any other person. Don’t make them a punching bag that can just take hit after hit without problems. Eventually, your character should get knocked down and not get back up right away.
Lack of Consequences – When you do something bad or questionable, then the result of your actions should catch up with you. Regardless of if we’re talking a protagonist or antagonist, their actions should somehow result in consequences even if its karma taking place.
The Pseudo Nerd – Your character is allowed to have interests but make sure that they actually know what they’re talking about. Just because your main character can name all of the planets in our solar system, it doesn’t mean that they are an aspiring astronomer like the writer says they are. Don’t be lazy and not do research.
Too Much Crying – I feel like a hypocrite writing this because I am a bit of a cry baby but I still eventually suck it up and go on. This should be the case for your characters. I don’t want to read about your Mary Sue sobbing non-stop for no real reason. Keep the crying to a reasonable amount please.