I’ve seen a number of posts like this, but I wanted to dive a little deeper into some of my bookish pet peeves. Let’s get ready to RAMBLE!!!!!
Heroes having a huge moral debate about killing the bad guy
I absolutely hate when the protagonist agonizes about killing the villain. It’s an interesting moral question in general, but it gets old really fast. I much prefer J.K. Rowling’s approach to this topic. Harry continues to use ‘stupefy’ or disarming spells and finally the adults around him point out “THIS PERSON IS TRYING TO KILL YOU- REACT ACCORDINGLY!”
This internal debate is also the backbone of countless movies and T.V. shows (season 3 Aang comes to mind, from Avatar: The Last Airbender). Every single time a protagonist decides to jail their opponent I think of the final scene in the X-men trilogy, when Magneto realizes he has some power left. Leaving them alive is not a good idea. It’s going to come back and bite you in the ass.
Having re-read that paragraph, I’m not sure what this attitude says about my personality… something not good, probably. In real life, things are seldom so cut and dry, but in fiction, I want my good guys to commit to a course of action and move on.
Sex is either amazing or traumatizing, there is no in-between
This one really makes me angry. Generally speaking, there are two types of sexual content in books: it’s either mind-blowing and orgasmic, or it’s some kind of deep, dark secret. On the mind-blowing side, you have the unrealistic first-time experiences, or sex that is always phenomenal and earth shattering. On the dark secret side, sex is the source of shame or emotional distress.
Both of these approaches have their place, but what about middle-of-the-road experiences? Your first time can be perfectly pleasant, but unremarkable. Sex with a new lover can be awkward and mediocre. Additionally, sexual trauma can be dealt with in a healthy way.
I really think that this topic would benefit from more nuanced writing. At a bare minimum, can we please see some more dialogue about sex? I’m not talking about moaning or screaming of names, but actual discussion between consenting partners.
Diversity as the driving force in the plot
I write about diversity. I read books specifically looking for diversity. Diversity is amazing and representation is incredibly important and undervalued.
Having said that, I would love to see diversity incorporated into books without it being the source of conflict. I love when a book includes diverse characters, but doesn’t go out of their way to draw attention to that fact. ‘Shadowshaper‘ does this really well. The characters are racially and sexually diverse, but that diversity isn’t the source of conflict in the book. The characters are all different, but equally valued and their race/gender/sexual orientation is simply accepted as fact.
Racism, sexism and general bigotry have their place in literature. I 100% believe that those stories are important to tell. However, it is actually possible for different people to peacefully coexist. For example, I’d love to see more LGBTQ+ characters who have already come out, and are accepted unconditionally by their family. As another example, the story line for a character with disabilities doesn’t need to revolve around that disability. I want more books that feature a fat character who isn’t trying to lose weight.
Again, I just want more nuanced writing, and more inclusion of real-life situations.
What do you think of these tropes? Do you have any others that really annoy you?