A friend of mine recently introduced me to a website based around tropes used in tv, movies, and literature. And while he gave me fair warning that I would become hooked, I had no idea how bad it would be.
The term trope derives from the Greek verb τρέπειν (trepein), "to turn, to direct, to alter, to change". Tropes are motifs or themes that are found over and over again in literature, as well as movies, music, graphic novels, television, and so on. In other words, clichés. Now, I hate clichés. I do my best to avoid them while writing. But there were many aspects I had no idea came up so frequently. I was blown away. And each genre has more than a few specifics, whether it’s romance, sci-fi, YA, mystery, etc, etc, etc. And yes, after digging, I found a few on the list that I had managed to succumb to without even realizing it. Not many, but a handful or so. The “non-existent parents”. The “more appreciated sibling”. And my personal favorite, the “tortured hero”. Come on. How could I resist?
So feel free to check it out. See what tropes and archetypes pop up in your favorite books. You’ll be surprised how many there really are.