Let’s Talk Bookish – Cliches and Tropes

Happy Friday everyone! Down The Rabbit Hole will be participating in Let’s Talk Bookish this month, a place where we can discuss and share our opinions about certain topics suggested by the community. Below I have referenced their little blurb on LTB. Please follow them and feel free to submit your own prompts on their sites as well!

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where they discuss certain topics, share their opinions, and spread the love by visiting each others’ posts.

Prompt for February 5:

Can cliches and tropes be done well? When is something a trope and when is it a cliche? when do you enjoy cliches or tropes, and when do you not? How much do cliches/tropes affect your opinion of a book?

#1: Can cliches and tropes be done well?

Absolutely. I feel like if it were completely impossible to do well, they would hardly exist anymore. Although that being said, cliches are probably the harder of the two to do well. To me, the difference between the two are pretty slight – I tend to think of them relatively interchangeably except that cliches often come with a more negative, “overused”, connotation. Now I know this is probably not the technical difference, but for all intents and purposes of this discussion, I will lump them to be more similar than they may be by definition.

For me, the best uses of cliches/tropes are often recognized when the author does something special with it. We’ve all read the typical coming of age story, or love at first sight romances, but I think even the most cliche of cliches can be manipulated to be appropriate, or used in a novel way that is refreshing. The “advantage” of playing along with a cliche or trope is that the audience will always have a particular expectation, and authors can use that to create a more stark contrast when they diverge, or really lead on the readers without much effort. Overall I believe that it’s a tool that is best used sparingly, as it can quickly go south if not done well.

#2: When is something a trope and when is it a cliche?

Like I was saying in the last response, for me, it’s relatively similar. However, if I were to break it down a bit further, I’d say a trope is often something more broad, similar to an archetype. I think an overused and cheesily done trope can also be classified as a cliche. Semantics anyway though, right? In my mind, when I hear these two words, I imagine a trope being a kind of storyline or a character that is often used to enhance a plotline, or add some familiarity. A cliche, on the other hand, is perhaps something similar, except completely expected, overused, and very cheesily executed. I would call something a total cliche if it created cringeworthy moments rather than the more endearing familiarity of a trope.

#3: When do you enjoy cliches or tropes, and when do you not?

To be more specific about when I enjoy them, I would say when authors reference a trope/cliche ironically or use it satirically within their piece, I often get a good laugh out of it. Another way is to almost follow the cliche but then have it fall short just at the end to also create that relief in tension of expectation. While these aren’t the only ways to use it, I get the most enjoyment out of them when I least expect them. On the other hand, my least favourite use of cliches/tropes (besides the obvious cliche being too cliche) is when authors spell out the cliche for you after they’ve been using it the entire time. Definitely a pet peeve of mine, like over-explaining a metaphor after using it… it just really dispels the moment, and not something I enjoy reading.

#4: How much do cliches/tropes affect your opinion of a book?

I think in general I am not going to change my opinion of book based on a cliche/trope that is used, unless it is completely egregious in its use. Even if it is a well-executed cliche or trope, that’s not usually the winning point for me to write home and tell others about. A great story is a great story whether or not it uses a trope or cliche, and so I am not sure how much value I would assign to its usage. I would certainly be impressed if the author executes a trope well, but that isn’t usually the main thing I look for in a novel. I usually judge novels based on the overall experience I had reading it and reflecting on it afterwards, and if it had a well done trope, great! Bonus points for sure, but I wouldn’t say it affects my opinion much.

And that’s it from me for today! What do you guys think? Agree or disagree? Feel free to discuss in the comments below, and once again make sure to follow the original creators!


1 thought on “Let’s Talk Bookish – Cliches and Tropes”

  1. You answered some great questions here, I learned a few things. It’s so interesting to learn about your take on the topic of cliches/tropes. :)) “A great story is a great story whether or not it uses a trope or cliche” loved this line

    Liked by 1 person

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