"Stories We've Seen Too Often"

Strange Horizons, an online speculative fiction magazine, recently posted a list of the stories they receive too often. You can read the full list from that link, but I've picked out a few of their funniest, most stereotypical items. I was proud to see that, so far, my books haven't fallen into a single category yet! 

  • 3. Visitor to alien planet ignores information about local rules, inadvertantly violates them, is punished. -man, I see this trope way too often in writing.
  • 4. Weird things happen, but it turns out they're not real. -I hate this. It makes me physically angry when I come across it as the final twist in a book.
  • 12. Evil unethical doctor performs medical experiments on unsuspecting patient. -This is a fun trope, but it's definitely done too often. 
  • 14. White protagonist is given wise and mystical advice by Holy Simple Native Folk. -This falls into the "magical negro" category too. 
  • 25. It's immediately obvious to the reader that a mysterious character is from the future, but the other characters (usually including the protagonist) can't figure it out. -Meh.
  • 34. Teen's family doesn't understand them. -Literally 99% of all YA. 
  • 44. Title consists entirely of a string of digits. -I can't believe this is a thing that's done at all, let alone overdone. 
  • 45. Baby or child is put in danger, in a contrived way, in order to artificially boost narrative tension. -Ehhh, I almost violate this one in Siege of Praetar, although I would argue the danger is not "contrived".

Obviously a writer doesn't need to make sure they don't violate every single rule on this list, but it's a fun run-down of some of the most overdone themes, especially if your goal is to eventually be traditionally published.