On My Bookshelf · Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Favorite Tropes

It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday! Don’t forget to head over to That Artsy Reader Girl and join the linkup!


Favorite Tropes

For those unaware of the term, a trope is a commonly used theme or plot device. There are lots and lots and lots of tropes in fiction these days, though really you could also apply a modern trope to most classics, too. (This goes back to the theory that there are only seven stories and everything is a variation on one of those.) However, tropes have become an easy way to describe a book’s content without confusing the person you’re explaining it to. They’re most often talked about in relation to YA, but of course tropes apply to all books regardless of genre, reading age, language, etc.

Here’s a list of ten tropes I like, in approximate order starting with my most liked.

  1. Random Superpowers! — this could be real superpowers, like in comics. Or it could be magic, like in Harry Potter. But in any case, it takes a normal person and makes them super-powered, and ideally the book then shows them learning to use their powers.
  2. Door to an Unknown World — think Narnia. Or Wonderland. LOVE IT.
  3. Secret Royalty — this is a trope I loved as a kid and have never outgrown. Guilty pleasure!
  4. Dangerous Games — this is one that is easy to write poorly, and I only really love when it’s written well. Still.
  5. Quest! — I love quests. They’re so much fun to read about. And they’re everywhere. Dorothy’s journey to the Emerald City. The quest to destroy the One Ring. Finding all the horcruxes. Quests are EVERYWHERE.
  6. The Chosen One — as long as you give me a reasonable explanation for it, I kinda like the Chosen One trope. I think it’s a bit overdone and often not explained well enough, but I enjoy it when it is well-written.
  7. Beginner’s Luck — I love the underdog nature of this, and seeing a complete novice beat a master at something is pure fun. However, the beginner can’t stay a beginner forever, and must eventually work for their success, or I get mad and will probably throw the book against the wall.
  8. Friends to Lovers — I am a sucker for a slow-burn love story, and this trope is usually that. It’s usually a lot more believable, too.
  9. Snarky MC with a Heart of Gold — don’t we all want to see the super-sarcastic character melt and become a real person? Not just me, right?
  10. Here Comes the Calvary — think Gandalf leading the charge at Helm’s Deep. It’s a last-minute salvation of an “all hope is lost” situation, and I really love it when it’s done well. (Again, it’s so often done poorly.) I think the Helm’s Deep situation is ideal, though. The defenders really gave it their all, but they were just up against a stronger force. Also, Gandalf told them to expect him, but over the course of the battle, they (and we, the reader) forgot that he would be returning. So it wasn’t a Deus Ex Machina situation, but was planned from the start.

There are other tropey things I like, too. Like magical artifacts, or secret identities, or reluctant heroes, and so on. But this list is for my favorites.

I expect many of you will include the “enemies to lovers” trope on your list, but I just can’t include it on mine. I don’t like that trope. I’m also not a fan of love triangles or insta-love. Oh well. Can’t win ’em all.

53 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday ~ Favorite Tropes

  1. Beginner’s Luck — Aye, matey! But I do have to admit that if the magic just comes naturally with no work at all because they be a special snowflake that does irk me. Fun list! I love secret royalty but I also love when royalty switches with a commoner for various reasons. All because I read a version of the prince and the pauper (way abriged) when I was a kid.
    x The Captain

  2. Great list. I like Secret Royalty, Dangerous Games, Friends to Lovers, and The Chosen One. Of course I like them provided they’re done well. I think with most tropes I’ll like anything done well, but even a favorite trope won’t work for me if it’s done poorly.

  3. Yes to doors to unknown worlds, secret royalty, and quests! I don’t know how I forgot about these ones as well as the ones I listed, but I love them as well as long as they’re done right. And the snarky MC with a heart of gold is perfect too!

  4. I agree with so much of this list! Random superpowers is so fun, because I like seeing how just normal everyday people react. xD Have you read the Wayward Children series?! The whole thing is based around finding doors to other worlds, and I love seeing the different worlds. I’m a fan of any and all snarky MCs. The snarkier, the better almost.

    Here’s my TTT post.

        1. I’m excited about it, too! I’ve already pre-ordered it, so that I don’t forget the release date. 🙂 Jack is one of my favorite characters, so I’m excited to see more of her story. I really want to go to Christopher’s skeleton land too, though.

          1. Mine toooo! I can’t wait for more Jack. I was a little disappointed when book four didn’t end up being more about the twins (though, I loved Lundy, too, of course).

            I was going to say that! But then it’s been quite a while since I read the earlier books and I couldn’t remember if they visited Christopher’s world, so I didn’t want to sound silly. xD But yes, I totally want to see more of his world. Was hoping he’d get a book.

          2. I was hoping for more Jack, but it was also super cool to read about Lundy! For book 5, the title made me think we were going to the land of rainbows, but I’m happy to have it be about Jack (and Jill).

            I know book 3 took us on very small trips into a couple of worlds, but I don’t think one of them was Christopher’s. It was neat to see Nancy again, though.

          3. I think Seanan could write a book (or three) about each of these characters, and we’d still want more. Like, I keep forgetting that I want to know Eleanor’s backstory, too! She founded this home for wayward children, but what about when *she* was the wayward child?

          4. Since it’s one of my favorites of hers, I’d be okay with that! 😀 (I can never decide between the Wayward Children series, the Indexing duology, or the Velveteen vs. series as to which is my favorite.)

          5. I usually avoid horror books, but I do own but Rolling in the Deep and Into the Drowning Deep. I will read them eventually because I like Seanan’s writing, but I haven’t read any of her other Mira Grant stuff yet so I may stop with those depending on how much they affect me.

          6. They weren’t really scary! They were mostly supernatural thriller (though a bit gory if that bothers you). But I never felt like they were particularly scary, because it’s the sort of book where you’re in on the joke and are waiting for the characters to realize.

          7. Oh good! I won’t worry so much about them, then. I generally end up with my imagination running away with me for horror novels/movies and making sleep impossible, but it sounds like these will probably be okay.

          8. Oh gosh I do that ALL THE TIME. And yet, I love listening to Creepypasta and No Sleep because honestly, sleep is obviously overrated. xD But no, this definitely won’t keep you up at nights! I mean, maybe if you ever travel to the Marianas Trench? So maybe avoid that area, yeah? 😛

  5. I didn’t end up doing this topic this week- I honestly am not sure what qualifies as a trope (I get hung up on technicalities). But I love your picks!

    You should read Fate of the Fallen. It fits a few of these categories (chosen one and snarky MC w/heart of gold).

    1. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find 10 tropes I liked either, mostly because the ones I tend to think about are the ones I don’t like! (love triangles, insta-love, etc)

      Hmm, I looked up Fate of the Fallen on Goodreads, but there are multiple books with that name. Who’s the author?

      1. Kel Kade? I had it up on a Cant Wait Wednesday a couple weeks ago, cheated, and totally read it early. Review won’t be up until October but you should definitely check it out!

  6. Omg, so much yes to door to an unknown world! Such a great trope and I don’t read enough books with that one in it! I’m also a sucker for the characters with tough exteriors but are secretly cinnamon rolls and marshmallows inside lol. This is a great list 🙂

    My TTT post

  7. oooh this is a great list Nicole! I do really love random superpowers too. Whatever form they take they elevate a normal human. That is probably why Chosen one is so popular too. ❤️ I love your points about Here Come the Calvary and Beginner’s Luck too! I didn’t think of those as tropes but they really are.

  8. As someone who primarily reads fanfic with a romantic bent, my tropes might be a little different. 😀 Soulbond/soulmate, bodyswap, a/b/o, accidental marriage, marriage of (in)convenience, friends to lovers, omg there was only one bed, etc.

      1. It does! You never read the book Freaky Friday? It’s been ages, but I think I liked it when I was a kid.

        Oh! How could I have forgotten fake dating!

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