Before you say anything, no, this is not a discussion about tropes. The internet has enough posts about “Top Ten Tropes That Are Totally Original!!” without me adding to the pile with my controversial opinion that enemies-to-lovers is a toxic model for relationships. I want to talk about something more fine-tuned. The small, specific story details we’re secretly in love with.
We all have at least one – that random thing with the power to awaken our inner middle-school girl and make us flail like beached belugas.
For Anna, it’s explosions
If you want to make my sister happy, blow something up in your book.
For me, well, I have a lot of things. Little moments or situations I look for religiously in fiction but rarely ever find, soft glances between characters and gentle conversations and that one time Arthum Wingfeather cried on Sara Cobbler’s shoulder. (Making the rest of us cry by extension.) These are the things I live for as a reader, things I wish authors included more often.
You’re about to witness sheer randomness and a startling amount of fandoms.
Welcome to my crusade.
Platonic Relationships Taking Center Stage
One day I will stop preaching from my soap-box about the superior power of platonic relationships in comparison to romance, but friends, it is not this day. If you don’t see my point, please refer to the Lord of the Rings and Captain America trilogies. Does romance exist within these stories? Absolutely. Is romance what draws us to these stories?
I think not.
Alas, in most stories, once the love-interest is introduced, it’s game over for all other characters within a twenty-mile radius of the protagonist.
Please do not do this.
This is the #1 cause of Sarah throwing things across the room.
This is a sub-topic of the last point because fictional male friendships are Better. I put together a small reference sheet to prove my point.
(An alternative way to look at this is female friendships are sorely lacking in fiction and we need more of them. Please and thank you.)
Reformed Villains Surviving the Climax
JUST LET THEM LIVE, DANGIT.
I’M LOOKING AT YOU, STAR WARS.
RIP KYLO REN.
Romance Between Side-Characters
Eowyn and Faramir? To die for. Han and Leia? Iconic. I was more invested in the two chapters of Murtagh and Nasuada than I was in the entire four books of Eragon and Arya. Good grief, the tension between Anakin and sand was more dynamic than his marriage to Padme.
Characters Who Are Legitimately Ugly
Not even passably unattractive until they discover their Inner Beauty which transforms them into a radiant queen whom all the popular boys fight over.
Girl needs the face of a toad.
Look, I have enough Inner Beauty to sink the Titanic, but you’ll never see crowds of suitors at my door. I think it’s unrealistic (and counterproductive) to try and convince young girls that looks don’t matter by handing them “normal” protagonists, only to contradict themselves ten pages later when she takes off her glasses and this one act is somehow the key step in unleashing Inner Beauty and thus making the class jock fall in love with her.
Inner Beauty is great. But it’s not always going to attract the hotties of this world. In fact, sometimes it repels them.
Villain to Tentative Ally to Friend
If you’re going to be technical, this is just a fancy name for a redemption-arc. But I want found-family feeeeelings, man. All the ups and downs and comical in-betweens of characters who were previously at each others’ throats (literally) coming to realize they actually almost sort of maybe like each other – and not only that, but oh heavens, they actually almost sort of maybe trust each other, and oh no, this is their sworn enemy, cue the identity crisis.
Found Family Who Stick Together After the Climax
I did not read a ten-book series of these people realizing they would die for one another just for them to go their separate ways once the main conflict is finished. Either they all move into a cabin in the woods and spend the rest of their days in chaotic domesticity, or I’m out.
Scenes On Rooftops
There’s no particular reason this setting makes me weak in the knees, but here we are.
I’m especially confused by authors who are parents themselves and write books for children about other parents being stupid and untrustworthy. (Example A: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes.)
Are you trying to convince your kid to not listen to you?
The Pre-Battle Soft Moment
Every battle scene has one. They’re the single reason I’m emotionally unstable.
The Secondary Love Interest Gets the Girl
I need a psychology nerd to explain to me why the sweetest, most heartfelt romances in literary history are not enough to prevent me from shipping the other guy whom I know will inevitably have his heart broken in the end. (Breaking mine by extension.) This is some twisted form of reverse psychology. Second-Lead Syndrome is a real thing. Writers should take advantage of it. Please spare my heart.
Enemies to Friends
Forget enemies-to-lovers. Legolas & Gimli beat that trope out of the water. I will take Sam & Bucky over a toxic romance any day. Remember when Kaladin seized every opportunity to call Adolin Kholin nasty insults, only to jump armorless into a ring of Shardbearers to defend him?
That’s the real deal.
Am I still bitter about the ending of Thor: Ragnarok? Quite possibly.
All that potential. Wasted.
I cannot accept emotional catharsis in the form of two characters gawping teary-eyed at each other only for the director/author to cut away at the last possible minute and deny us our rights.
LET THEM HUG, DANGIT.
Meanwhile, enjoy this brief compilation of Star Wars showing us how it’s done.
The Accidental Dad
You know – that one tired guy who never deserved any of this and is only moderately more responsible than the rest but was still somehow unanimously voted the honorary frazzled parent of all characters involved.
Bonus points if he adopts strays.
Double bonus points if he adopts strays while simultaneously being an actual dad.
The main takeaway of this post is villains deserve rights and Sarah feels strongly about the neglected power of friendship.
What are some random tiny details you’d like to see more of in fiction? And please, if you have book-recs for stories that include these elements, I will gladly pay in love and respect to hear ’em.
Have a glorious Thursday, and I’ll see you next week!