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114 votes
Accepted

Is the "hero guy saves girl" trope misogynistic?

This is a matter of opinion; personally I don't find it sexist. People have genders, and sexual orientations, and they have to mix. We stray into sexism when we pile up too many tropes. In your case,...
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104 votes
Accepted

Using real words from a foreign culture feels like 'Calling a rabbit a "smeerp"'

I've found that the main key to unfamiliar words -- and this applies to jargon in technical writing as much as it does to foreign or made-up words in fiction -- is density. The example in the XKCD ...
84 votes
Accepted

Averting Real Women Don’t Wear Dresses

I would suggest looking at the women in your life (family, friends, co-workers, etc). I have a problem with the ideas of 'feminine qualities' and 'femininity'. They imply that without those a woman ...
76 votes
Accepted

Avoiding the "not like other girls" trope?

If you want to avoid showing a character as "not like other girls" then make sure your "other girls" aren't stereotypical. The trope shows up with female characters who don't fit in. They don't have ...
56 votes
Accepted

How do I avoid the "chosen hero" feeling?

To answer this question, I think it would be useful to look at The Lord of the Rings. We are explicitly told that Frodo is "chosen" for the task: Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its ...
54 votes

Is the "hero guy saves girl" trope misogynistic?

In general, if you can swap out a woman for a precious object and the story remains mostly unchanged, you should attempt a rewrite. The most important thing here is to give the character her own ...
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54 votes
Accepted

Avoiding cliches when writing gods

I think my answer may be a tad tinted by my atheism, as I believe every faith and pantheon operates as a function of how a culture interacts with nature, the difficult-to-predict, and the unknown, but ...
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47 votes

Using real words from a foreign culture feels like 'Calling a rabbit a "smeerp"'

asvarans, vaspahrs, sardars and ostandars. I struggled with this for a different reason, I didn't want to invoke medieval Europe titles either, because little else in my story was like that, I didn't ...
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44 votes
Accepted

How can I convince my reader that I will not use a certain trope?

Readers establish a sense of the story they are reading in the opening pages. That's where you set the contract. If you open with the death of this evil being, the readers will expect that being to be ...
  • 23.7k
44 votes

Is killing off one of my queer characters homophobic?

Would you kill them if they were straight? If yes then you're not being homophobic, whether you're seen as being homophobic by readers and critics is a different story of course. If the death drives ...
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44 votes

Writing a love interest for my hero

The kinds of criticisms you are encountering are not aimed against the concept of the hero having a love interest. They are aimed against female characters that that exist only as a motivation for the ...
41 votes

How do I avoid the "chosen hero" feeling?

So this is a bit of a frame-challenge answer, but I think it's worth answering: Maybe it's the abilities the MC has, maybe there is a prophecy, maybe it's something in his/hers birth or upbringing: ...
38 votes

How can I convince my reader that I will not use a certain trope?

This is really a version of the Chekhov's Gun problem. Things aren't in a story unless the writer puts them there, so readers tend to expect significance from important-seeming things that are ...
37 votes

Is the "hero guy saves girl" trope misogynistic?

Answer: It depends on the execution. What makes this misogyny is if the sister is in the story (solely) to allow Edward to be a hero. If she is a throwaway character who serves only to provide a prop ...
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37 votes

What's it called when the bad guy gets eaten?

Just Desserts From TV Tropes: A villain ultimately finds their evil deeds come back to bite them. Literally—they end up getting eaten. This does not include a Heroic Sacrifice. But may be ...
36 votes
Accepted

How to Write an Eldritch Abomination?

The problem here is that by giving him a clearly understandable (even if evil, misantropic) goal, you're making your Fenrisúlfr more human-like. Sure, we can say - by rough sketch - that it wants to ...
35 votes

Avoiding the "as you know" trope in exposition

Two additional techniques... Character Reaction. A character might react in a way that reveals some of the information: "Mother! What the heck are you doing here?" Now we know that the person who ...
35 votes

Dead parents: something to avoid?

Young protagonists are often presented as orphans, because it gives a plausible reason they might be fending largely for themselves. For adults, on the other hand, there are many possible other ...
34 votes

Using real words from a foreign culture feels like 'Calling a rabbit a "smeerp"'

It's ultimately up to you, but you don't want your ancient Persia overridden by knights. You may as well make them wear full plate armor instead of describing whatever garment was in use in that age ...
33 votes
Accepted

Is killing off one of my queer characters homophobic?

No, I think you're good. Since so many of your named characters are queer, it's not a case of killing off the sole token of a group, like it is with the 'only black guy dies' trope. Similarly, the ...
31 votes
Accepted

Chekhov's gun, but it's just "useless" background info

At first I thought it was a call-back but, as explained at that link, even those are usually relevant later. So I think what we really have here is a continuity nod.
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31 votes

How do I avoid the "chosen hero" feeling?

Add other characters who also fit all the "not replaceable" chosen-one requirements. You could have several heirs, a highly trained merc squad, a prophecy which covers all first-born daughters ...
30 votes

Non-trope happy ending?

Easiest example where not all protagonists find "someone else" is The Lord of the Rings. Of the nine members of the Fellowship, Aragorn and Sam are the only ones who marry within the course of the ...
29 votes

What are some bad ways to subvert tropes?

I think the problem with the blue-pink subversion is that there is no clear reason why; other than the intent to surprise the reader. And secondly, it is not clear this trope subversion has any actual ...
  • 94k
27 votes

Is the "hero guy saves girl" trope misogynistic?

Although your question skipped a lot of detail, what is there suggests how misogynism could enter through the cracks. Let's look at your summary, and not unreasonably, assume that what you focus on ...
  • 1,118
27 votes

Avoiding the "not like other girls" trope?

Embrace the opposite of the trope. Is there some reason Supergirl cannot love talking fashion, and own ten pairs of shoes? Is there some reason a brilliant chemist must also be mousy and ...
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27 votes

How to compactly explain secondary and tertiary characters without resorting to stereotypes?

There is a difference between stereotypes and simply not fleshing a character out. For example, your main character goes into a coffeeshop, orders, and sits down to read. At the next table are two ...
25 votes

Is there any way to get around having everyone in the world speak the same language?

There are several ways to have more than one language in your world. Here are some ideas: Your characters might be conversant in more than one language. If your characters are high-born or a ...
25 votes

Writing a love interest for my hero

A love interest is not the only reason to risk life and limb. IRL there are many stories of people risking life and limb to save children, sometimes losing their life. In psychology there is a real ...
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