Tropes are not bad

So last night, one of my writer friends was lamenting that a writing group she belongs to has some asshats in it. Specifically, people told her that her characters were “tropes” and then linked to those tropes to prove it.

(DO NOT CLINK THOSE LINKS OR THE ONES BELOW. Unless you have some time to kill.)

I really wanted to just start smacking people.

First off, you can’t write without tropes. Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations.

This does not mean cliches. While cliches can BE tropes, tropes are not cliches.

So to try and cheer my friend up, I will discussing the tropes I picked for Mina.

Our Werewolves are Different – With the addition of the Voice (a magical voice that only werewolves can hear), I threw most werewolf mythos out the window.

Broken Bird – Troubled, but Cute person (often female) with a Dark and Troubled Past. (yeah, she’s totally those other two tropes as well)

The Fashonista – This character is, quite simply, a character whose defining trait is being well-dressed and extremely interested in fashion.

Brother-Sister Team – You don’t get Mina without her brother.

Deadpan Snarker – While she can and does rein it in, she has a mouth on her.

Cute Bruiser – 5’7 and 130 lbs of rage tucked behind a face that skews young. Don’t piss her off.

Spicy Latina – This character is very Hot-Blooded and confrontational, and often times has a rough background where they had to learn to defend themselves. They usually display an almost Tsundere-ish quality of having a soft side that occasionally peeks out from their tough exterior. Expect the Spicy Latina to be a good fighter who can take care of herself. While I don’t harp on the fact that Mina’s Cuban… Mina is Cuban.

Tsundere – The Japanese term tsundere refers to a character who “runs hot and cold”, alternating between two distinct moods: tsuntsun (aloof or irritable) and deredere (lovestruck).The term was originally used to describe characters who began with a harsh outgoing personality, butslowly revealed a soft and vulnerable interior over time. Over the years the character archetype has become flanderized, and is now generically associated with a character who flips between the two emotional states at the slightest provocation, and usually at a specific person rather than a general sociability problem.

Mugging the Monster – Basically this is when some random crook, and occasionally a pretty stupid one at that, has the misfortune of targeting someone much more powerful than he anticipated. Happens once or twice when people assume the woman in the expensive clothes is an easy target.

Relative Button – Don’t hurt her brother, or any member of her adopted family for that matter.

Action Girl – An Action Girl is a female Badass who is just as tough and kicks just as much butt as the guys do. Damsel in Distress? Not her. She proves that girls aren’t only “not helpless”, they are strong. She’s featured in far more than the Designated Girl Fight. Expect regular appearances in actions scenes, facing dangerous foes and deadly obstacles, and expect her to win.

All Women Love Shoes – She doesn’t have hundreds of pairs, but she does pride herself on having the right pair for any occasion.

Good is Not Nice – She can be downright unpleasant.

Battle Couple – The kind of couple where bullets figure prominently in the story of their early romance. Where “war buddy” and “significant other” are synonyms. Where if you harm either one, the other will kill you as surely as the sun rises. Likely to have a Back-to-Back Badasses moment.

Blessed with Suck – Werewolves are enslaved, so… yeah.

Healing Factor – A character is hard to kill, not because he doesn’t get hurt, but because he has the ability to rapidly recover from serious damage. While it depends on how fast he can heal and how much of a beating his body can take, a character with healing factor will bounce back from severe injuries that other beings can’t, often with no scars or medical treatment.

I Just Want to Be Normal – They didn’t want these powers, this magic, this curse, or whatever it is that was foisted upon them. The responsibility to save the world? Forget it! All those exciting adventures and the ability to potentially do anything? Take it away. They want nothing to do with it. (There’s a reason Mina works an accountant.)

Improv Fu – As Mina is a short, skinny human, she’s not above using whatever is on hand as a weapon.

And those Tropes are just the ones that I can think of offhand! You’re writing is full of tropes. You can’t avoid them! Seriously. So embrace your tropes… hell, revel in them! And if someone starts complaining that your work is ‘full of tropes’ take that as a compliment. All the best writing is!

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