I fell in love with books when I read them at age 9. Ever since then, I've been reading a lot. Books make me happy.
Have you ever taken one look at a book and thought you already knew how it would end? These are stories with mainstream plots—the kind where you know what’ll happen. There are reasons why these plots are used often. People can’t get enough of them. But after awhile, we get sick of them, right?
1. The Amnesia Cliche
So, a girl and a boy encountered each other by a twist of fate. Everything is going fine. They have this chemistry going on between them. The world feels like a better place and yeah, it’s just amazing. It’s an indescribable feeling and everything is just so perfect. But the thing is there’s no conflict. It’s boring. There’s nothing going on—just two lovebirds going at it. Nobody wants to read a couple being lovey dovey for 200 pages. So how are they going to solve it? Just insert a car accident or something. No, he or she won’t be disabled. Instead, he or she will lose memories.
Why? Because the author wants to avoid reality. The author wants her or his characters to be the perfect couple—no scars and defect, just two attractive people. But back to point one, there’s no conflict. So why not use memory loss but no permanent scars or defect? It’s romantic, especially when the person who lost her/his memories retained the lost memories. Well, let me tell you, I’ve seen this plot a lot and I’m sick of this. Wow, I might come off as being too bitter but oh, well. If you want to use this kind of plot, add something original.
2. The ‘I’m Actually Sick’ Plot
Again, girl meets boy. Sparks fly. Love is in the air. Everything seems perfect but somehow, something feels a little off. Sometimes, she/he would be missing or there are some weird medicines. Finally, it’s revealed that she/he is terminally ill.
Another case is which she/he goes missing with a note that says she/he moved to a different country. This kind of story usually ends up with one of the characters dying. Anyway, it’s getting overused. Is this all you can think of when making a tragedy story? I can list lots of stories with this plot.
3. A Bad Boy Meets a Girl Who Changes Him
Okay, I must admit, I’m guilty of this too. So, we all know how it goes. Basically there’s a player. He’s hot, smooth and suave but the problem is he is a player. He gets every girl except this one girl. She’s not interested. He puts a lot of effort into wooing her because well, he’s the legendary womanizer. No one rejects him.
Later on, he realizes that he’s in love with her. She too, finally warms up to him. He changes and stops being a player. They live happily ever. The end. Wait, hold on. Before it ends, there’s usually a girl showing and trying to disrupt their happiness to no avail. In the end, everything turns out to be alright.
This kind of plot is, I must admit, my guilty pleasure. It’s so fun to watch or read even though I already know the ending. However, it’s used too often. Moreover, we start to think that we can change others. The truth is more often, we can’t change others. In fact, don’t even try. I know plenty of people who thought they could change their partners for the better but nope. Instead of trying to change others, why don’t you change yourself?
4. The Stalker Boy
Oh, stalker boy. This character is usually hot and mysterious. He stares at the heroine when she’s sleeping. He’s everywhere—always there when she needs help, making the heroine seems like a damsel in distress. He appears out of nowhere. He knows everything. He’s also mentally abusive and possessive.
It’s perceived as sexy somehow. The readers, mainly young readers, think he is hot. Oh, by the way, the heroine thinks it’s hot too and is attracted to the guy. Never mind the fact that he is abusive or has no respect. Or that he has no life because all he does is following her around all day. At least, he is hot. The most popular example for this trope is Twilight.
Now imagine that a highly unattractive guy is following a girl around. A lot of people will think this guy is disgusting. We need to stop this double standard. This kind of behavior should not be encouraged. It’s not sexy. It’s downright creepy.
5. The Dork and the Popular One
Hmm, let’s see. There is a dork, loser or nerd—whatever you call them—and no one likes him/her. There’s one little twist though. The dork likes the most popular girl or guy in school. The chance to get him or her is close to zero, right? Well, that’s what you think. It turns out that the popular guy or girl likes the dork as well! It’s a cute love story, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, reality doesn’t work like that, haha. Well, I understand why this plot is so popular though. It gives us hope. It provides us a sweet escape from reality. There’s a possibility of this happening even though it’s small. Anyway, this kind of plot is overused. You can spice it up a little bit, perhaps? Don’t go down the same route.
6. Different Species
You literally see this type of stories everywhere. It’s even present in Fairy Tales such as Little Mermaid and Beauty and The Beast. I’m not sure if the latter counts since The Beast is actually a human but oh well. Throughout the years, we’ve seen it a lot. For example, a vampire and a human. Well, I don’t see anything wrong with this plot, however. There are a lot of things we can explore with this plot. There are a lot of choices too. You can make a story about an elf and a phoenix or something like that. I’m pretty sure that has never been used before.
7. The Star-Crossed Lovers
The star-crossed lovers who can’t be together because of some circumstances. Oh, what a tragedy! The most famous love story has this plot—Romeo and Juliet! Their parents did not approve and they died together. I think lots of people faced this kind of problem. Some people love each other but their parents didn’t approve because of religion, races and a lot more. It is really frustrating and hurtful to experience it. So, I get where this is coming from.
8. Manic Pixie Dream Girl/Boy
The term ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ is first coined by the film critic, Nathan Rabin. Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a character that is used to describe a character that helps the MC achieves happiness without having any goal or background herself. Usually, the girl’s character is quirky, wild, and has childlike curiosity. She is otherworldly in a sense. Once the MC achieved his goals, the girl disappears. She is the mysterious being you’ll never get to know of.
The truth is . . . human is more complex than that, right? For example, you can see this trope in movies like 500 Days of Summer. Basically the story goes like this. There’s a young man with a dull life and a quirky woman comes along. She changes his view of the world and teaches him how to embrace life. Once it’s achieved, she’s gone for reasons like she can’t commit.
How Tropes Morph Reality
The Manic Pixie Trope is usually associated with girls’ characters but I feel like there are lots of manic pixie dream boys too. The girl’s life is dull and suddenly she meets a guy who changes her life completely. Suddenly, her life is colorful. Usually, the boy’s character is what we call a boyfriend material. He’s always there when she needs help. He’s the shoulder to cry on. We can see this kind of character in Fairy Tales too. We never saw the Princes’ perspectives. It’s always how the princess is whisked away from her miserable life.
I grew up with those stories, expecting that there’ll be a boy like those stories. Then, I dated somebody and I realize it’s not like that. They’re so much more than that. You can’t expect him to be there for you all the time. He has his own goals, troubles—his own life.
I see lots of young girls complaining about their boyfriends. I also saw those posts in which the boyfriend is always there for his girl with the caption, 'relationship goals'. What I don’t like is, the posts are always about the boys doing something for the girls. It tells so much about our expectations. Well, boys are humans too. They don’t have to cater to your needs 24/7. So I hope we can put an end to this kind of character.
I’m not saying you can’t use this plot but I suggest you do it in a different way. For example, the anime Your Lie in April uses the 'I’m actually sick' plot but guess what? It’s great because it’s done in a different way. Mainstream is not bad but you can stick some of your originality.