My 5 Favorite Bookish Tropes

I tend to write the tropes that I love to read, at least a few of them. I feel like that’s usually the case, but it wasn’t until recently that I noticed a pattern in the types of books I enjoy the most. For those of you who know me personally or follow me on Instagram, you probably won’t be surprised by a few of the tropes I’ve chosen for this list. 

Without further ado, let’s dive right into my top 5 absolute FAVORITE bookish tropes to read in fiction!

# 5 – FORCED PROXIMITY

This is most commonly known for the “Only One Bed” cliche. Now when I say cliche, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. I just mean it’s used very often, and for good reason! If it’s done right, it works really well and brings the characters closer together. 

I absolutely love reading this trope because it forces our characters to interact, whether they want to or not. Two enemies, two potential love interests, two friends that have grown distant, etc. It gives the reader pause thinking about what will happen next. This works particularly well with romance, especially if the two parties involved view romance as the LAST thing on their mind. 

This trope creates necessary tension and excitement, which usually leads to character growth (MY FAVORITE!). I read this trope most recently in the spicy Throne of the Fallen novel by Kerri Maniscalco. It did not disappoint!

# 4 – DARK VS LIGHT

I’m an avid fantasy reader, and this trope is very common in fantasy stories. Another name for this trope is “Evil vs Good”. It’s fairly self-explanatory. Basically, there’s a good side and a bad side, and one must overcome the other. Typically, this is told from the good side’s perspective as they try to overthrow this dark evil that is encompassing their realm. But if you’re reading something a little more edgy, like a villain’s story, the opposite applies!

I just love when darkness and light have a showdown. Enemies can often become allies, and occasionally friends by the end of the novel/series. Friends turn against friends, family against family. Characters who normally would never be seen standing next to each other are forced to work together for a greater purpose. That foreboding feeling hanging in the air tends to keep the reader on the edge of their seat, waiting for the impending darkness to attack. 

Narnia by C.S. Lewis is a great example of this trope. I also love the meaning behind the good conquering evil in the end, even if there are some devastating tragedies in the process. 

# 3 – MORALLY GREY CHARACTERS

I cannot love on this trope enough! Morally grey characters are my bread and butter. They’re my favorite kind of characters to read and write. They’re complex and driven, not completely good and not completely evil. They have many layers to them, and sometimes their character growth leads more to one side or the other (good or bad), rather than just staying neutral by the end of their story.

Morally grey characters often have their own interests at heart, rather than simply fighting for one side. They don’t live up to social standards and they don’t make the typical choices society would expect them to make. They are the most human. They fight, they try to do the right thing, they fail, they do the wrong thing on purpose, and they’re constantly learning. They fall into bad behavior, but characters like this usually end up growing and evolving for the better.

For a more recent example, Loki from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a very morally grey character. Bucky is another example from this universe. Although very different, both have been led astray many times and fight for what happens to be important to them. I absolutely adore them both!

To stay more on the “bookish” side though, I have to say one of my most recent favorite morally grey characters would have to be Jacks (Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber). He constantly makes the wrong decisions on purpose, but most of the time, he’s just protecting his heart and the girl who’s captured it along the way.  

Although, I feel an obligation to say how much I love the “typical” characters like genuine heroes (Captain America – MCU) and sadistic villains (Sauron – LOTR). But my favorite color is definitely grey. 

# 2 – ENEMIES TO LOVERS

Need I say more?

Two characters who absolutely can’t stand each other end up falling madly in love. It’s AMAZING. Is it used too often? Probably. But it doesn’t matter. If it’s written well, I’m here for it!

I think there’s something to say about the level of depth in stories like these. You take two people that absolutely loathe each other, from as light-hearted as high school rivals to as dark as mortal enemies who hunt one another, and pave a path for them to fall for each other. If done right, the romance is completely worth the wait. It takes time, trust, and putting aside one’s differences to really see the other person in a different light. It’s also always so very entertaining when the two characters are arguing very heatedly and realize they’re attracted to each other.

A great example of this is, of course, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. In truth, I only recently watched the movie for the first time and I’m obsessed. I’ve always known a lot about the novel, and I plan to read it VERY soon. But it’s a classic for a reason. Because of their “pride” and “prejudices”, both characters are immediate enemies until they realize there is far more to one another than meets the eye. 

A more recent example is Emilia and Wrath from Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco. This bookish universe is one of my favorites, and I loved watching Emilia and Wrath almost kill each other several times before they realized hey… I’d also die to protect you… maybe I’m out of this world in love with you after all. 

I love this trope so much that it’s definitely a core part of Project Swabby, the series I’m currently drafting. Words cannot describe how much I love exploring that dynamic!

# 1 – FOUND FAMILY 

Yes, Enemies to Lovers and Found Family were neck in neck, but overall, this one has been in my heart far longer than the other. Before I even knew what tropes were!

There’s nothing better than a band of misfits coming together and becoming their own version of a family. These characters are usually morally grey, misunderstood, or lacking something in their own lives that they find in other people outside of their family. Usually, these people aren’t related, but sometimes a few of them are. The group typically comes together by chance and then grows and bonds together by the end of the story. 

I’ve always loved the thought of there being a place for everyone, even the ones that feel like they have nowhere to go. Blood doesn’t always define who your true family is. It’s the ones that accept all of your flaws, who will love you even when they hate you, and will be there for you no matter the circumstances. 

A classic example of this is the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares. Four girls who have been best friends since birth find a pair of jeans that magically fit each of them, and they send the jeans to each other as they spend their summers apart in order to keep each other close. Although the four of them aren’t related, they’re sisters in every way that matters, even when they eventually grow apart. 

I’ve been told countless times that the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo is a great book for lovers of the Found Family trope. It’s actually on my TBR list for the rest of December. I’ve only heard good things so far!

This won’t be anywhere near a surprise, but Project Swabby also revolves around the Found Family trope. While the romance and adventure is a huge part of it, the fearless crew and their tentative relationship with the MC (main character) of this story is the very heart of it. 

What are some of your favorite tropes in fiction?

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