There's no end to book tropes one can expect to come across in fiction: epic fantasies that take place during a war, dystopian revolutions led by teenagers, romances that follow a set pattern. But what about those niche genres that sell like hotcakes in indie markets, or that readers are demanding but we're not really seeing?
Here are five interesting tropes that would be awesome to see in books.
1. ENCHANTED CASTLE / MANOR ROMANCES
Tons of readers are obsessed with the Disney Beauty and the Beast aesthetic and identify with Belle. The grand library, the enchanted castle, the cozy atmosphere, the rose—it's all so iconic to the reading community.
Many readers troll Beauty and the Beast retellings, hoping to recapture that magical feeling, but so many of the stories fall flat.
Maybe that's because we're not looking for a retelling of the plot so much as its setting and the air of fantastical romance. Sure, there are cozy historical romances, but those aren't fantasy. You won't find curses, magical creatures, or forbidden forests.
On the flipside, most fantasies feel the need to scale up into epic territory. We need grand battles and world domination to justify the fantasy.
But what if . . . the magic was just there? What if the plot is the romance, or something simple and whimsical like breaking a curse, so we're left with all that cozy goodness saturating the book.
Just a thought.
2. FAERYCORE / GOBLINCORE
Look, I don't know how this happened. I don't know where all these 'cores came from: cottagecore, cozycore, dungeoncore. All I know is I am here for it, and so is everyone else on these wagons (wagoncore?).
An offshoot of these 'cores is faery and goblincore, where the focus is—you guessed it—faeries and goblins. The style can range from whimsical Tinkerbell types to more traditional, forest-inspired creatures you'd find in Brian Froud art.
What might a faery or goblincore plot contain? Anything, honestly, as long as the overall aesthetic is fae. We're seeing a bit of this come back to television with the Dark Crystal prequel and, soon, the Labyrinth sequel.
Author Holly Black has made a killing in this market, but (to my knowledge) the Spiderwick Chronicles is the only one of hers that truly capitalizes on the dark, traditional feel.
Yes, there are superhero novels. But let's be honest: they're pretty niche and formulaic. Or satiric. Which is fine, but I'd love to see this genre expand.
I'd love to see more female-driven superhero books, books that play with super antiheroes or villain origins, books that delve into the dark implications of what having powers could really mean.
(Quick book rec if this trope interests you: although it's another superhero comedy, it features a female Asian protagonist and is such a fun read. Click the image for the synopsis!).
4. INTROVERTED ARCS (HERMITCORE?)
There are lots of supposedly introverted characters. Quiet, bookish, solitary. Aaand they're all the same stereotype: shy, meek, and in need of someone to show them "how to live."
How egotistical is that? True introverts know most of us aren't shy, our aversion to humanity is due to not liking or desiring most people's company, and there's nothing wrong with the way we live currently. If we wanted to go out, we would.
So why is every arc for introverted characters about making them more social and "experiencing more of the world with someone"? Why can't their arc be gaining confidence in themselves non-socially, finding peace with their inner lives, and becoming a badass in their own way? Let's stop propagating this culture of extraversion and show readers it's okay to want to stay in.
5. MODERN GOTHIC
This trend sort of appeared with the vampire and fallen angel craze, much to baby witch Jordan's delight at the time.
BUT we can do better. By modern gothic, I don't mean the territory that's been taken over by paranormal romance and horror. They're awesome in their own right, but I'd like to see more old-fashioned gothic elements worked into genres outside those—the aesthetic that's starting to creep in via the dark academia social media trend: Victorian fashion and architecture in the modern age, graveyards and ghosts, insanity and secrets, witchcraft and curses.
Beautiful Creatures, while not recent, is a wonderful example of a modern southern gothic, which is another branch I'd like to see more of. There's so much potential for gothic aesthetics to creep into fantasy, sci-fi, and more.