Romance tropes aren’t the only overdone storylines in novels these days. Some character types are so overused that they’ve become cliche. Today, Gregg Bridgeman — Editor-in-Chief of Olivia Kimbrell Press — shares his thoughts on the overdone heroes of contemporary Christian fiction.
In Christian books, what are, in your opinion, the MOST overused male tropes? Examples:
#1 The “Crazy Vet” trope. Despite the fact that millions of American men have served in the military honorably and courageously, and go home to lead productive lives as husbands, fathers, and godly men — it seems that any time a veteran is written about in the last 30 years he is somehow mentally disabled or suffers from crippling post traumatic stress disorder. (As a combat vet myself, this trope is deeply offensive and dishonors not just me but every man I ever served alongside as well as those who didn’t make it home.)
#2 The “chosen one” trope. The chosen one is a common fantasy trope. His identity typically revolves around a task that’s been set aside for him, which he typically pursues without much hesitation or complication. Like Frodo Baggins, Luke Skywalker, and Harry Potter, the “chosen one” is often, conveniently, an orphan.
#3 The “mad scientist” slash “absent-minded professor” trope. Going back to Dr. Frankenstein (or any number of sorcerer antecedents), the mad scientist is usually a villain, driven by an eccentric, antisocial personality and unrestrained hubris or a desire to play God. The mad scientist’s benign counterpart is the nerdy “absent-minded professor” who’s so engrossed by his work that he struggles to relate to “normal people.”
#4 The “antihero” trope. Antiheroes are typically cynical loners with major personality flaws, often darkly appealing “bad boys.” Like normal heroes, the antihero still drives the story, but often to a more dangerous place. Tony Soprano, Walter White, and the grittier versions of Batman or other vigilantes are all prime examples of modern antiheroes. These days, antiheroes are almost as common as idealized heroes.
#5 The “small town hero comes home” trope. This man is from a small town but moves to the city. Once he has achieved success, he returns to his small home town for some reason. Usually, this is becuse one or more of his parents fall ill or have died. Then (dramatic pause) eye contact with the old high school sweetheart results in magic and they live happily ever after.
#6 The “Male Girlfriend” trope. This is hypothetically a male character, except that every action and every word of dialogue is distinctly NOT male. He could just as easily be replaced with a female “girlfriend” character and the reader wouldn’t notice. None of his motivations or internal thoughts/feelings are identifiable as “male” character traits.
What would you say are THE MOST overused MALE tropes in books you have read in the last few years?
It’s Karin again. The guy I’m most tired of is Casual Man. He never takes anything seriously. He never worries about anything. Still, everything works out for him and his lifestyle proves to everyone that being on time and setting boundaries are overrated. I don’t mind Casual Man, but only if his laid-back attitude sometimes bites him in the bum. My hubby is Casual Man. He’s helped me relax a LOT, but he’s also become a more dependable, reliable person since we’ve gotten married. I’d like to see THAT in a book!
Gregg began operating Olivia Kimbrell Press in 2011 acting as Editor-in-Chief. Then as now, he operates the press as a ministry. The primary objective remains that of lifting up and helping ministry-minded Biblical authors fulfill the Great Commission — to bring the Gospel message to the entire world — for every tribe and every nation. Gregg currently serves in the National Guard, is a decorated combat veteran, and is best known for his technical savvy and attention to the smallest detail. Website: www.oliviakimbrellpress.com .