1. Killing off older characters, or anyone offering help to the ‘hero.’
First off this has become so freaking predictable. Some older person comes around an offers some grand wise advise. Moments later they are killed by a villain.
Please stop now. Please. If your ‘hero’ must proceed on their own, find some other way to separate the characters.
I find plots much more enjoyable when they are multi-generational.
2. Character who is old and experienced gets their butt kicked by a newbie.
Okay. White belt meets black belt. And white belt not only easily wins but wins by a mile. Riiiight. How often do you seriously expect this to happen? Be honest now.
You might be able to explain it off by experienced fighter being off guard. Might. You can try “my goodness and virtue trump your skill.” I might buy that. Once.
Seriously though. Experienced people should act accordingly. People just learning a skill should stumble. Let the newbie have to work and use strategy. It makes both characters believable.
3. Arranged marriages are terrible things, and only the woman can complain about it.
This is a two-in-one lament.
First the perception that arranged marriages are terrible things. How awful of your parents to marry you to a complete stranger. How unloving and uncaring.
Um in some cultures and time periods arranged marriages are/were normal and accepted. I’m willing to bet when possible the parents checked out the prospective spouse-to-bes. They just spent years supporting and loving their children. They would make sure their future spouse could take care of them.
Now some arranged marriages were made to create or solidify a truce. Okay. But that doesn’t automatically make their spouse-to-be automatically bad.
Second issue: only women can lament about it.
Here’s the obvious fact. It takes two people to make a union. Both of them are having their spouse picked out by their family. Both are in the same boat.
And yet I read about the woman lamenting on the unfairness of it all. Not the man. She cries. Not him.
The message to the future husband must be “suck it up and be man.” And if he does lament: he’s complaining, he’s feeling sorry for himself (ignoring the fact the future bride is doing this), he’s a wimp, a baby, etc.
Wow. What a message to send to all the men out there. Deal with it. Tough luck. Who cares how you feel.
It gets worse when he’s portrayed with really bad personality problems. He’s cruel, controlling, abusive, harassing, alcoholic, etc. Then comes the cliché of the woman being rescued from this bad marriage by a handsome kind man. And I try not to gag.
How about a story where both people in this arranged marriage have to deal with the uncertainty of it all? They have to learn about each other. Maybe they’re from different countries and cultures and have to learn those. They try together to make their marriage, their treaty, work. No over angsting. No handsome person to rescue them.
There are more plot points that irk me, but I’ll just start with these.