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Unredeemable Tropes

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Kasper Hviid, Apr 22, 2020.

  1. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

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    Anyone who criticises young adult fiction because it sidelines or ignores adults or adult authority figures misses the whole point of young adult fiction. It''s not about the world of adults. It''s about the world of teenagers and what they regard as important. The teenage years is when most people learn to become independent and leave home so much of the fiction aimed at teenagers focuses on that.
     
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  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    It’s not that YA sidelines adults, it’s how sometimes they do it in a way that denigrates adults and encourages teenagers not to trust them.

    I can’t think of a good example offhand. I do like how in Pokémon Ash’s mom is somehow fully supportive of his crazy adventure, and I’d rather see that than a more realistic fight or neglect scenario. There are options to sideline parents without killing them or making them cruel or making them idiots. I’d like to see authors make more of an effort to fit real family ties into their works.
     
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  3. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

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    I've read novels and watched movies where the parents/adults have been plain idiotic.
     
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  4. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    I doubt anyone here misses the point. It's just that they don't like the way adults are occasionally portrayed as ignorant, fusty agents of non-change - holding back the inspired young protagonists from achieving their amazing destiny.

    Similarly, I've never read any of the Harry Potter books, but I've seen most of the movies and understand the basic premise...which I dislike. Obviously, the idea of being "special" is a key (and very over-used) trope in fantasy. That's fine - it's one thing to be special, but it's quite another to denigrate the non-special. I find the concept of muggles mildly offensive. And the fact that I am a muggle - and must therefore be lumped with the only muggles portrayed in the stories - Harry's awful family - is profoundly upsetting.

    Muggle should be our word. Wizards should not be allowed to use it.
     
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  5. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

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    I'm not talking about handling every day life in a teen to adult world, but big dramatic events like the ones you see in Fantasy, sci-fi and Dystopian. Teens leading rebellions. Kids fighting the most powerful evil ever to threaten the earth. With zero help, advice or guidance from an adult with experience in such things - but they still succeed! I'm not talking about movies/books like "homeless to Harvard" where the teen encountered both poor adults and good ones.

    Even in my early twenties I still wasn't independent to the point I never needed to call my Mum and ask her for guidance with a bill I couldn't understand, or a bran new washing machine to operate, or love advice. You can't beat experience and that's what most adults have. I dislike how they are removed especially with the same old rubbish. Dead. Drunk. Depressed/mental issues. Otherwise oblivious. And every adult in the book is portrayed negatively. The great villains are never another teen, always an adult. I can' think of one teen book where the villain is another kid (unless it's a drama fiction then it's the school bully or love interest threat)
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2020
  6. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

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    I've read quite a few young adult fiction novels over the years. The novels have spanned many genres, been written by authors from various countries and their publication dates span almost seventy years. They also span many genres but supernatural, detective/investigation and stories about horses dominated my young adult reading material due entirely to the person who bought the books for me. He chooses them randomly.

    For the most part the role parents play range from fully involved and helpful (e.g the Trixie Welden series and James Patterson''s Jacky Ha-Ha) to being next to useless (e.g the Hunger Games), usually because of a trauma, illness or addiction. There is often frustration or derision expressed towards adults (e.g Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simmons Howell and Fiona Wood) but they are almost never treated as idiots. The only time I have encountered this notion of the stupid parents on a regular basis is in Disney and Nickelodeon TV shows and certain contemporary "bitchy teen" novels.

    One thing I have found which is remarkably common in young adult fiction, especially in fantasy and dystopic novels, are main characters who are orphans or have been led to believe they are orphans. In fact, this is one of the most overdone tropes in the young adult, science fiction and fantasy genres. Harry Potter, Star Wars, Ella Enchanted, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz... the list of books aimed at young adults with orphans as lead characters is a very long one.
     
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  7. Adela

    Adela Scribe

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    It's been many years since I read them, but I noticed a trend in the Grimm's fairy tales that many of the characters were orphans who lived with aunts/uncles. Perhaps that's how the trope started?
     
  8. Nighty_Knight

    Nighty_Knight Minstrel

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    In defense of Hunger Games (some other YA do it, but not as well imo), she was a tool used to start a rebellion. She didn’t even really want it and only really sold it due to her charisma and pissed attitude. The only time she really led anything military wise, nearly everyone with her was killed including herself. The reason people followed her is her very public story and that 13th district was really pushing her and selling her to the people. The adults manipulated (successfully) the whole rebellion.

     
  9. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    I haven't read The Hunger Games, but reading between the lines here - are you saying that evil adults manipulated the whole damn tragedy?

    If yes, then surely that's another (not so subtle) message to the kids that adults are evil bastards.

    Feel free to ignore me if my post is revealing worse than usual ignorance, having not read the books.
     
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  10. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    My daughter is reading Hunger Games, and since Chinese is her native language, I’m gaining more insight than I’ve before. You’ve got it basically right, a propaganda tool and face for a movement. Rebellions often use youth, so nothing unrealistic there, LOL. She isn’t the leader, she’s a prop in the war.

    This brought on the tangent of old folks... I had a conversation with someone a while back about destroying the oil companies and all the “Old white men in power” and my reply was, just who do you think actually owns all the green industry? Ignoring shareholders and all of that, LOL. The power brokers are the power brokers. Hunger Games (series) to me is a bit of replacing one set of corrupt powers with another, which is rather reflective of a lot of reality. The writing in the novels and the story itself is typical hack, far as I’m concerned, but at least on the surface of interpretation it has potential once past the oh so painfully ordinary first book/movie.

     
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  11. Red Star

    Red Star Scribe

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    How about a self-loathing protagonist? I know its been done before but I want to make sure its not been overdone.
     
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  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I read the first one, and liked it OK but not enough to keep reading the series. There are adults in the book who are good and on the right side of things. To me, it was more a message about the evils of power, especially near-absolute power.
     
  13. Jordan

    Jordan Dreamer

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    As far as adults being “ignorant” in stories- a lot of the time it’s an extension of the trope of adults no longer being able to access the world of magic because that world is only for people with the imagination of a child. This is not a way of denigrating adults in the real world or saying they are all bad and unfit, it’s an allegory for showing how they can’t be included in a certain part of a child’s world because they just can’t remember that part of themselves anymore.
    Often authors will subvert that trope with a certain type of grown up that can still access magic and be included in the children’s adventure and be trusted, the professor in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. And stories where it’s detrimental to the kids to not trust the grown ups (Lock and Key).
     
  14. Jordan

    Jordan Dreamer

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    I don’t know if it’s been overdone, but it’s hard to pull off. It’s a challenge to get your reader to root for a guy who spends a lot of time beating himself down .
     
  15. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    As long as there is something important the reader likes about the MC, they can put up with a self loather - frustrating though he or she may seem.
     
  16. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Sage

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    The first thing that crossed my mind was Nightmare Detective and Millennium (TV series, 1996-9). But then I realized that this wasn't self-loathing as such but more a general weariness of the bleak world.

    Self-loathing sometimes includes something for the protagonist to be self-loathing about. And this risk ending up as a form of fridging, where the protag murdered/tortured some thousand people solely for the author to give him a reason to be emotional and angsty. Which IMHO can feel kinda morally flawed, focusing on the feelings of the aggressor, while ignoring the victims.

    Bojack Horseman does this a lot, having Bojack doing bad things and then feeling bad about it. But the series has a heavy self-awareness, and gleefully exposes its flaws.

    Dr. House seems to be plenty self-loathing, and I haven't noticed any reason behind it. Might be there, just not in whatever episodes I watched. I like that he seems broken, yet the stories are focusing on him doing stuff, instead of going on about his inner journey or whatever.
     
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  17. Red Star

    Red Star Scribe

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    Essentially my protagonist has PTSD from his time as a soldier and did terrible things on behalf of the empire he worked for. So he drinks to cope with it. Him coming to terms with these things defines his entire character arc. Just wasn't sure if it was cheesy or overdone. He is kind of Bojacky come to think of it.
     
  18. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    Soldier coming to terms with stuff has certainly been done before but there's plenty of room within that trope for original angles.

    When I think about a fascinating but self-loathing protagonist, the first that comes to mind is Renton from Trainspotting - excellent complex character.
     
  19. Red Star

    Red Star Scribe

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    Certainly, I love that movie. There's nothing I love more than a massively flawed character you still find yourself rooting for.
     
  20. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    Huv ye read tha book though?

    If no, then moan tae fuck ye dippit wee hoor!
     
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