There are some tropes that annoy me, and it has nothing to do with the quality of a story – I’m just not fond of them. This isn’t a list meant to improve your writing, nor do I think these tropes should never be used. I think it’s just me.
Here are a few of my pet peeves:
1. The evil twin or doppelganger. All evil things the twin does gets blamed on the protagonist, and no one believes the protagonist is innocent.
Surely there are more interesting catalysts for the protagonist’s misfortune? It sometimes feels like author intervention to me, almost lazy. Maybe I just don’t buy it. How many people have identical twins out there, really?
2. The unluckiest bastard on the planet. Every bad thing that is humanly possible happens: he is diagnosed with cancer, his wife leaves, he loses his job, he gets mugged, and at the very end his faithful dog companion gets run over – and its not the protagonist’s fault!
It’s hard to keep from getting desensitized when you start off with something horrible right off the bat. Nothing else afterwards feels like it has impact. I’m all for making your protagonist suffer, but there’s a limit. I suppose I prefer and moments of tension relief and not constantly fearing… dear God, what’s next… because you know it will be depressing. And if it’s not his fault? Wow, what an unlucky bastard. I end up feeling sorry for the protagonist, not compelled by his misfortune. Neither can I root for him if I know that the fates are going to render his efforts useless.
3. The only reason things go badly is because of a misunderstanding. People withhold information to protect the protagonist.
You see this all the time in romantic comedies, but it makes me want to scream. I suppose if I’m shouting at the story, it means the trope has served its purpose as a successful tension device, but it still feels manipulative! Especially when one bit of knowledge is the only thing preventing the protagonist from succeeding and the story could have ended 100 pages earlier if the protagonist had known.
As a reader, or writer, are there any tropes that annoy you?