4 Character Tropes And When (And When Not) To Use Them

Hi there! It’s been a hot minute since I posted (life has been crazy). If you are new, welcome, and if you are returning, thank you!

Today’s tip will be about 4 character tropes I don’t like, the reason why I don’t like it, and how you can change the trope if you absolutely need to. I advise you not to use these tropes because they are used throughout modern literature, but if you absolutely must (for plot, character arc, character interactions, etc.), I will give you some ways to help the trope for the better.

So let’s get started with the tip!

Warning: high levels of sarcasm, writer’s humor, and my personal opinion. Do not read if you have a problem with any of these.

feat. a pic of my sister i took on vacation πŸ™‚

Character 1: The Beautiful Girl Who Thinks She’s Ugly When Everyone Tells Her She Isn’t

*eye roll*

I can’t even begin to describe how annoying this character trope is. Good grief.

First off, a lot of girls don’t hate their bodies! I know that some struggle with appearance anxiety, but some are completely fine with how they look. Also, this trope does no good to those who do struggle with their appearance. Some authors think it will help their readers who are “in the same boat,” but a lot of the time it does little good, if any good at all!

Second, backstory is key! If she hates her body for no reason, you’ve only created a boring character with no real importance to the story, and you might as well trash her.

Just kidding, she already has self-worth issues. Don’t throw her away like that, you monster.

But, if she hates her body because her parents raised her to idolize a certain body type, which she can not have for some great reason you will provide, that makes a little more sense. It better be a great reason, though, not “my boyfriend dumped me because his ex said I wasn’t pretty.” That’s just cause for a greater eye roll.

Or, maybe she only hates a part of her body. Ears too big? Scar on left hand? She hates those specific attributes, but not her whole body. And you can still use it to move something along in the story or help her character arc.

Maybe other characters tease her about her scar, but she comes to realize it’s one of her defining features (or tells a great story). Maybe she uses her huge ears to accomplish something great in the story (sounds like an elephant we all know).

What I’m trying to get across is, she doesn’t have to hate all of her body. A protagonist (or even a prominent side character) with that mindset could end up harming the girls who read your book. So, play it safe, and let her love most of her body.

Or, play it even safer, and don’t write this trope all together. πŸ˜‰

Character 2: The Smart Sidekick Who’s Lowest Grade Is A 98

Please stop writing these. Just, please.

I mean, sure, there are some really smart people out there.

But, if the only reason this character is in the story is to give statistics or whatever, you need to cut them. Sorry.

Characters are not supposed to be one-dimensional. They can have different interests, attributes, etc. The “smart” character doesn’t only have to be smart. Maybe they enjoy knitting (knitting is hard, okay) or they are good at reading maps. Whatever helps your story along, the “smart” character can also have.

Character 3: The Dark And Brooding Yet Handsome Boy

*eye roll intensifies*

It’s not so much that I hate this character trope, it’s that I hate when the MC (main character) falls in love with the “dark and mysterious loooove interest.” Ugh, gag me.

I have quite a few “dark and mysterious” boys in my other WIPs (work in progress), so no judgement on if you have them too. But I don’t like when the female protagonist falls in love with the boy just because he’s mysterious. Like, what? Does anyone do that in real life? No. People generally stay away from others who are dark and mysterious because they’re creepy. Be realistic.

Once again, this character trope is only allowed when he has a good backstory or reason for being “dark and mysterious.” (anyone else reading that in a batman voice?)

For example, one of my “dark and mysterious” boys keeps to this creepy profile because he’s super famous and girls fall over him and it’s the only way to keep his sanity while in public (there’s a reasonable backstory behind this, I promise).

You see, he can be mysterious because he has a reason. People without a reason for being mysterious generally don’t walk around looking “dark and mysterious.”

Character 4: The Villain Who Wants To Watch The World (Or The MC) Burn For No Reason At All

This character trope is, once again, evidence of *rings bell* no backstory.

A villain naturally goes against your MC, that’s the main point of them existing. It’s natural for them to have a deep dislike (might I go so far as to say hate) for the MC. With backstory, it all makes sense and falls into place. Maybe the MC got the villain’s pizza order wrong, and the villain is out for revenge. Backstory is always the key!

However, if your villain hates the MC for no apparent reason (to yourself or the reader), that is not logical. People don’t walk around thinking, “Hmm, who of these random strangers on the street am I gonna hate today?” No. People don’t do that.

I don’t care what excuse you have for writing this type of villain. Unless the villain has a mental disorder (which might be cool to write!) the villains need to have a reason for hating the MC.


Thank you for attending my rant. I hope it wasn’t too hard to follow (my sarcasm got the best of me a couple of times . . . lol). See you next week when I will share what made me interested in writing and becoming an author. You don’t want to miss it!

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