10 Characters I’m Tired Of Reading
After what seemed like a cliché, Madelaine decided to assassinate some tropes
There are some characters who will turn up in every single book you will ever read. Sometimes they will be cleverly disguised with a slight tweak to an action or backstory, but for the most part, they are the product of generic writing.
I’ve decided to make a hitlist of my least favourite tropes. You’re welcome.
1. The Whimsical Other Woman (WOW)
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. The Woman-Who-Is-Unrealistically-Whimsical-And-Fulfills-The-Author’s-Fantasies.
She’ll die tragically. Maybe she’s a free spirited student, or maybe her tiny hands are frozen after a boheme artistic existence. She’s definitely younger than her male love interest. She says unrealistically poetic things, enjoys watching the sunrise on the roof and has a strand of blue hair that symbolises youth. She has to die so she doesn’t become old and bitter like the protagonist’s wife. She has at least one nude scene involving a mirror.
2. The Motiveless Villain №27
I mean okay, he wants to use The Terribly Evil Bomb™ to spread a new type of smallpox, but…why? Who trod on him as a toddler? Oh no wait, you won’t tell me because that would involve some sort of character arc.
Give me at least some positive traits or motives so I can engage with your work, thank you darling.
3. The Tragic Flower
Oh, poor Ophelia 2.0. The poor sweet little woman who’s death furthers the plot. Women being poisoned/mauled/tragically getting typhoid before the wedding to make the male protagonist actually do anything is just so tropey. And sexist. What’s the difference between her and the Whimsical Other Woman? The Tragic Flower dies to further anything that happens in the plot, the WoW dies because, well, that’s hot.
This character is horrifically under-developed, mopey and helpless. Think damsel on a heavy dose of codeine. Almost every badly-written book has one.
4. Obviously The Author (OTA)
He was a middle aged ex-journalist called Steven, and he was bored with his wife. He’s not handsome, but he’s a deep thinker and thinks he’s under appreciated. He’ll inexplicably get with the beautiful young Whimsical Other Woman, then question his reality in Chapter 12 while laughing by her grave. Oh, didn’t I tell you? All hot women die in these books.
Give me a break. Talk about an ego trip.
5. The Sociopathic Superhero
This man is the biggest jerk ever to be called a ‘hero’. He cheats on his wife, he murders people with a one-liner, he slaps women when they get ‘hysterical’ and never has any emotions beyond light amusement and subtle anger. He probably kills or assaults a woman for rejecting him, but he’s still the good guy because she taunted him or was a prostitute. And he’ll feel a bit bad about it, but ultimately save the day from the evil Baron.
Classic case study: James Bond. Or Ross Poldark.
6. The Unlikeable Man
For some reason, the incredibly closed off, self pitying jerk is the hero of our novel. When he’s busy being a misogynist, stalking a woman or saying something a bit racist about his secretary, we are still expected to root for him. Your whole book is awkward because of it. While not as awful as Sociopathic Superhero (he actually has emotions or character development) you still get tired of his narcissism by Chapter 4. Think Winston, 1984.
7. The Stupid Woman
The female character who does something so unbelievably, irrefutably stupid that the whole universe hangs in the balance. She has to have everything explained to her by the male characters. I’m not saying you can’t have a woman who does stupid things, but at least give her some sort of reason to behave more stupidly than anyone in the whole novel.
She stupidly reveals the plan to the villain. She accidentally swaps the briefcase for the one with the bomb. She opens the box with all the diseases in the universe because she wants to see what’s inside. Think Bond girl trope. Thick as a Flat Earther in a pot of treacle.
8. The Badly Written Homosexual
Is he a tortured gay professor who just wants to please his homophobic father but also wants sexy time with a student? Or a beautiful blue-eyed young man who’s hedonistic lifestyle ends in a horrific car accident? Is the relationship sadly ruined by HIV (again)? Lesbians pillow fighting in bikinis? Erotic bisexual orgies?
Yikes. Were you trying to be two dimensional?
9. The Mystical Minority Old Man
A bit colonial-racist, but not intentionally so (is that better? Or worse?). This magical, whimsical characters can somehow reveal the future, talks in stilted, poetic language and magic flute music seems to linger around him. He doesn’t really have a personality outside a) old and b) magical.
It’s a bit lazy really. If you need exposition, try not to go down this route.
10. Ze Vicked Foreign Type
It’s racist, it’s old fashioned, it’s awkward to read. He’s over sexed, he’s easily angered, he probably doesn’t care for manners and he says ridiculous things like “In my culture, a woman knows when she must be kissed.”
Please stop. Please.