101 Tropes 1-30

This is a repost from a meme that was floating around on another blog’s friendlist. (It was originally called 101 Kinks, but “kink” was being used in the sense of “thing I really like” instead of “thing that turns me on.” I’ve expanded on some of the tropes in some cases.


1. Characters who have some variety of “damage,” but aren’t crippled by it. Characters who have something severely wrong with them, but are still able to “get by” in one way or another. (Or, if they’re literally crippled, they still have the determination to keep going.)

2. Hurt/Comfort where the emphasis is on the comfort. Heart to heart conversations on the porch, friends hugging, breakfast in bed for a friend, lover or partner who’s sick.

3. Domestic. I love casual interactions between people who are just having an ordinary day. Tomorrow they might have to do Important Things like slay vampires or something but right now they’re doing the laundry, or feeding the dog and cat.

4. Snarky and sarcastic mechanic/engineers/scientists geniuses. This could also be part of a General Love of Competent People Who Fix Stuff. Bonus points if they are also tough/athletic.

5. Strong partnerships that slide into some variety of romance. (Without becoming some variety of cliche and without losing the aspects of the partnership that made it a partnership.)

6. Relationships between “complementary opposites,” where one half of the partnership has abilities and character traits that dove-tails with/compensates for abilities and character traits the other partner does or doesn’t have.

7. A character (male or female) who solves problems in an unusual way, because they don’t see the problem in the same way as a “normal” person might. Or they solve a completely different problem than the one presented to them because that was the real problem underlying everything. Ariane Emory from Cyteen by CJ Cherryh and Jame from Hodgell’s Kecyr novels are a lot like this. So is Ender, from Card’s Ender books.

8. Terrifying Women. By which I mean very strong, very effective (and usually older and snarkier) female characters who are at least two or three steps ahead of whoever they’re dealing with at the moment. Women who do not take any crap from anyone, and are extremely stubborn.

9. Creepy Kids. I have a strange fondness for strangely intelligent (or just plain strange) kids. I don’t mean Bad Seed type characters, I mean kids who because they’re so different, they don’t always play well with others–because they don’t know how. ((Furtive look–yeah, that would explain why I like Pandora Hearts and Kuroshitsuji so much.))

10. Not So Evil Overlords–(Usually male) characters who have a very definite Goal in mind and are willing to do anything in order to achieve it. Like you know, taking over the whole universe. ((Leto II from God Emperor of Dune for instance.))

11. Asexual/Gender neutral characters. Characters who don’t have a specific orientation/identification for male or female, and who regard “romance” or just plain “lust” as something mildly puzzling or confusing that has nothing to do with them–and the writer doesn’t think it’s odd or unnatural… (Characters that have this orientation includes Jame from Hodgell’s Kencyr novels (she has had a few people declare crushes on her, and her general response is…”what the hell?”) and Aion from Chrono Crusade (in the manga he doesn’t seem to have much use for or comprehension of romantic arrangements, and doesn’t even seem to notice that Rizelle has a intense obsession/crush on him.)

12. Stable romantic relationships between three or more people, not played/intended as strictly pornographic/erotic. (Vaguely related to my partnership=romance kink, except that it’s a grouping rather than a pairing.)

13. “Submissive” characters who are actually quite capable of ripping you apart, and are likely to do so if you are stupid enough to assume “submissive to love interest” equals “submissive to everyone.”

14. Growly and gruff hardboiled types who act as father-figures/mentors to rookie types. I have no specific examples of this from books or movies/shows but I’ve used this particular character type a few time in my writing.

16. Spooky Girls. Could possibly in some cases be considered Dark Magical Girls, these are teen aged or younger femal characters with mysterious and dangerous powers and may or may not have very peculiar perceptions of the world and the way it works. Examples of the Spooky Girl would have to be Jame from the Kencyr novels (mysterious powers, check, completely blase attitude toward things that are bizarre and also kind of scary, check…) and Illyana/Darkchilde from Marvelverse. (Part mischief, part malice and part angst, with many many mercurial and just plain crazy moments.) Another possible example of the Spooky Girl could be Ari 2.0 from Cyteen/Regenesis.

17. Supermommy type characters. I don’t mean business women who also do all the housekeeping and cooking. I mean very maternal figures who also have a good chance of utterly pwning you, either because they are smarter, or because they can kick your asshole up between your teeth. Cordelia Vorkosigan is a good example of this (staging a commando raid to get her son back, and then killing the would-be usurper who caused the insurrection in the first place.) Another good example would be Izumi Curtis from Fullmetal Alchemist, who is feared and adored by her students Ed and Al.

18. Snarking at deities who are not impressed or utterly amused by the snark. The one who mainly fits into this is the Bastard from Bujold’s Chalion books and Ista. (She Does Not Want his patronage, he insists that no, She Is Definitely The One Who Is Shiny.) To a lesser extent, another example is Bahzell from David Weber’s Oath books. (The God of War, Tomanāk wants to recruit Bahzell as his paladin, Bahzell Wants None Of This Thank You. The arguments are epic and very funny, though the theological reasoning sounds like something from the Player’s Handbook.)

19. Surreal dream sequences that might or might not have Some Sort of Meaning. I have to blame Diane Duane for this one, because she writes great ones.

20. Dark storylines that are not angsty. Basically, morally ambiguous characters in a morally ambiguous world making morally ambiguous decisions that might turn out to be the Right Thing after all. (Joan D. Vinge’s Cat series sort of fits this, though she wanders into the Angst a lot.)

21. Crowning Moments of Awesome. It may or may not be a Final Strike moment where all the bad guys abruptly become crispy critters. It’s definitely the point where the Protagonist and completely and utterly owned his opponent. A crowning moment of awesome that comes to mind is the exact moment that Aion announces that the entire battle with Duffau was a set up/distraction, the highlight of which is Aion echoing Duffau’s comment re: playing with the big boys.

From vol. 7, Chrono Crusade

Duffau: *when he thinks he has the upper hand.* If you had to pretend to be a big shot, you never should have come to the front lines. Stinking amateur.

Aion: *after revealing he was faking, and defeating Duffau.* You know, it’s kind of tough to lose convincingly…It was nice knowing you Duffau. Oh, and if you had to pretend to be a bigshot, you should never have come to the front lines.

22. Moments of Whump. Because there must be balance in the universe, don’t you know. It doesn’t necessarily mean defeat, it might just be someone stuck their foot in their mouth up to their knee. A good moment of Whump is the point in Foreigner when Illisidi decides to teach Bren a valuable object lesson–by poisoning him.

23. “I am NOT a salad!” or, The Other doesn’t think like you, that is why they are Other. There is a very deep divide between the way two characters think, and they can’t change the way they think because the difference is cultural or species-linked. Which means someone has to break their brain enough that they can approximately understand the other character. (the specific quote is from a conversation between Bren, a human and one of his atevi body guards. Atevi do not have concepts for friendship, or human-style affection. the word closest to “like” for atevi is used to refer to objects/foodstuffs.)

24. Characters who need to be Set Straight. I won’t blame Captain’s Courageous because I’ve only seen parts of the movie, and parts of the *The Horrible Little Book. I like the idea of the bratty character growing up and becoming more mature (often after having the arrogance knocked out of them.) I also like crotchety old people who become if not less crotchety, at least a little better understood.

25. Generational/Extended/Adopted families and communities. I kind of like stories with complex family relationships and interactions (with a preference for functional as opposed to for dysfunctional, though I also like “get me away from my crazy family plz!” fics and “my family sucks argh” and also “reconciliation” stories.) I also really really like kid fic, though a lot of the fanfic I’ve seen is a little too cutesy in that department. I want to read about the kids of characters and the like.

26. Single parent/non-traditional caregiver. “One man and a baby,” or “single mom.” I like one on one parent child interactions, and characters suddenly acquiring Child Rearing Responsibilities, and discovering that they don’t suck at it.

28. The Man Who Used the Universe<–title of a book by Alan Dean Foster about a guy who basically decided that he was never going to let anyone control/abuse him…by being in control of everything. He does surprisingly well at this, though Foster re-used an old sf trope of “imaginary menace from OutSide creates unity/peace” whiiich doesn’t actually work. On the other hand, power/control issues are pretty shiny, which is why this kink is named after the book. Definitely related the Not Quite Evil OverLord kink.

29. Sarcasm is Love–People exchanging sarcastic barbs and the occasional insult as a sign of very deep affection or fondness–and it’s understood by both parties and most of the onlookers that this is what’s going on in the course of the conversation. (Not really the Takahashi Couple where they pretend not to like each other: they both honestly do love each other, they’re just sarcastic as hell about it.

30. Characters with support systems (who may or may not be exasperated by same.) I’ll go back to Bren Cameron for this, because he basically ends up being Responsible for an entire household and staff. (Though it might also be said that the house hold and staff are definitely Responsible for Bren Cameron.) It may more may not be a variant of “domestic” fic, but it’s specifically about a character who has to learn how to deal with a Household and responsibilities of same, or about characters who all ready have experience with very bossy “subordinates” (Like say, Fiore from Chrono Crusade and the way she very gently pwns Aion and Joshua.)


*I’m talking about a series of bowdlerized/edited/redacted versions of the real books like Swiss Family Robinson and The Time Machine and other classic type books.They were small, square and blocky, with pictures. I loathed them with all my heart because in most cases, I’d all ready read the real books, and the edited versions would annoy me because sometimes, scenes were actually added on, or altered.

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