The term trope in the literary community has come to have a creative meaning. Its literal definition is the use of figurative language for artistic effect. However, now the term trope has come to be commonly defined as recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or cliches in creative works.
These are some of the tropes that I’ve seen and heard about in the literature that shouldn’t be used. I will list some of them but there are more.
1. The Fixer
Although there are women that fit this category in real life, readers don’t technically want to read about them as well.
The fixer character usually believes that they can fix a broken man even if he’s controlling, abusive (both verbally and physically), and even if he has psychological issues.
It’s nice that she wants to help but why would anyone want to be in a relationship when the focus is not on ‘US’ but on ‘HIM’? This relationship is unhealthy, unrealistic, and shortlived.
2. The insecure
We all have insecurities at times and some people have it worse than others but when the main character (MC) is written in such a way when they are constantly insecure about themselves is annoying.
This is the girl that is written to be so gorgeous, has the perfect curves, perky breasts, round ass, slim waist, pouty lips, bright eyes, long lashes, etc… but she thinks she’s hideous. Last time I checked if you don’t think you’re pretty you won’t exude that sex appeal and thus the guy you might be trying to get with may pick up on your insecurities.
It’s ok to have flaws but not to the point when someone compliments you and you turn their compliment into an insult.
Writes tend to write these kinds of female MC’s so that the readers can sympathize with her and see that she’s humble. This is not the right way of giving your character humility. Your character has to actually perform an act of humility in order to considered humble.
3. The Sexy
Don’t get me wrong being sexy and showing that you’re sexy is great. Hell, I think I’m sexy, however, you can’t just be sexy without a personality.
Often times these characters are one dimensional. They only look pretty and are ready to bang the male/female MC at any time. They lack conversation, thought process, or anything that gives them characteristics.
Being visually sexy is great but having characteristics that you possess is actually sexier. For instance, making your MC independent, strong, charismatic, or intelligent gives her depth and dimension. It provides a visual for the readers and gives us reasons to believe that she is a good match for the protagonist.
4. The not too sexy
This is the girl that writers try to give her sex appeal but at the same time feel guilty that she might be objectified as being a sex object so they mellow down her appearance but make it too obvious.
For example, she’s wearing a dress that accentuates her curves but the writer makes sure that her dress is below the knees and a quarter long sleeve and it black not red or any seductive color shade.
This is unnecessary and if she’s sexy give her that sex appeal, give readers that hint of sexiness at times.
5. The passive
The girl that doesn’t have any backbone or any decision-making capabilities whatsoever. She’s just pretty and is deeply in love with the protagonist. She goes along with what everyone else is doing without questions asked or providing any input. She’s more of a follower than a leader or like a placeholder, she goes with the flow.
This character is boring. She doesn’t like conflict and I’m sure she probably wouldn’t be able to solve or get out of it even if she tried.
She lets others decide her fate without any input. She also lets other control her life. Even though we need help from time to time, this character solely relies on others to make decisions for her.
6. The bitter old hag
This is the character that is either the stepmother, the villain, the sister-in-law, or the mother-in-law, and sometimes the MC’s mother.
There’s nothing wrong in writing an old bitter hag but when the sole reason she’s bitter is that she’s jealous of the MC because of their look and age is ridiculous.
Give this female character another type of reason to be evil. We’ve seen this kind of trope in many Disney characters. I’m sure you can recall and name a few of them.
7. The naive virgin
There’s nothing wrong with being a virgin but in this kind of books, there is.
This trope is so overused that whenever I read them I instinctively roll my eyes and predict what’s next.
This girl is smart, has a college degree, has friends, basically is well rounded, but when it comes to the sex scenes she has no clue what to do. She needs to be coached and needs an explanation for every movement. This is such a mood killer for sure.
There are many reasons for a person to be a virgin but being ignorant of intimacy is not a reason for being inexperienced.
8. The badass who doesn’t do anything
Some writers tend to do this with many of their characters. These are the types that everyone talks about being either bad or evil but the readers never get a glimpse of their evilness or their badass characteristics.
This is a prime example of telling instead of showing how bad the MC is. There is no validation of their badass but just the writers mentioning she’s bad.
9. Not the average chick
I’m guilty of this one. This is the girl that the love interest says she’s unique and has something special about her but he doesn’t know what it is. (I redeem myself as you keep reading but nevertheless, I did start it off this way).
This is an effective way and lazy way to tell readers that the MC is likable. Focusing on her personality instead of the physical would be a better option.
10. The walking pheromones
Every single male and female character in the book not related to her wants to bang her.
She can’t be everyone’s type. Her personality or her physical characteristics must clash some way with others. Being pretty is not sufficient to have everyone in the story want to have her between her legs. I wouldn’t feel comfortable being sexualized at the turn of every corner by every person I encounter. That would be exhausting.
I hope you took notes of these fictional female tropes and tried to avoid them in your writing.
Let me know what other female tropes you have read about that I have failed to mention in the comments.