Simmer down, people: Why the ‘Miscommunication Trope’ Isn’t all that Bad 

Oh, TikTok. There are endless negative things I could say about that particular social media platform, but that would make me a giant hypocrite. Especially, given that at least twice a week my attention issue raddled brain gets sucked into a #funnypets, #catvideos, or #booktok black hole until the wee hours of the morning. This week a book reviewer clip popped up on my #FYP. Her review of what is a very popular romance was 99% positive, but it was the 1% she didn’t like that occupied nearly 100% of her clip. And the fatal mistake of this undeniably successful book? The ‘Miscommunication Trope.’ 

We’ve all read it. We’ve all rolled our eyes as Character A lashed out at Character B because of a misunderstanding that only you, the reader, are privy to. And we’ve all flipped through the pages waiting anxiously for all to be revealed allowing love and truth to win the day. The Miscommunication Trope. Yes, it’s been done and it will be done again. But seriously though, why all the hate? 

After I finished the reviewer’s video, I did an online search and there are tons of bloggers declaring they won’t even deign to finish a book if the trope makes an appearance. All this vitriol had me shaking my head. I mean, isn’t this a little excessive? Judge all you want, but the Miscommunication Trope is a classic for a reason. And the reason? Take your pick! It’s fun. It’s sweet, intriguing, interesting and, above all, it works. And history is the proof. Shakespeare, Austen, Bronte. The list goes on. The MC Trope shows up in countless tried and tested classics. Are we really going to say Shakespeare made a bad choice? Not me, for sure.

But I guess maybe the fact that it was done back then may make some think that it shouldn’t be done now. Like writing the MC Trope is taking the easy way through a narrative or being derivative. Maybe they think the trope is now tired. But if something is done well, can it ever be called tired? For every master like Bronte or Dickens that the world remembers, hundreds are forgotten. Why do we remember Charlotte and Charles? Because their books were good! Not because of tropes they did or didn’t use.

I would never leave pages on the drawing-room floor just because scribbled on them is a trope that’s been done before. Hasn’t everything been done before? As the proverb goes, there is nothing new under the sun. If you’re trying to make your work stand the test of time, writing well is the key and NOT writing off tropes just because other writers have used them. So, let’s all just take it easy and remember that reading and writing is supposed to be fun.

But it’s not only writers’ propensity for the pretentious that makes me want everyone to lay off the MC trope. It’s also because the trope itself makes light and more palatable an unavoidable truth of being in a relationship. That truth being: Miscommunication happens. I’ve been married for 14 years and my husband and I have been together for 18 and I can tell you that at the root of every dropped ball, argument, spat, and knock-down-drag-out fight has been bad communication. 

With every year that I am still married, I grow more certain that good communication equals a good marriage and bad communication equals trouble. And trouble in a marriage is no laughing matter. After 18 years as a couple, my husband and I have had our share of pain. By the grace of God we’re still together, but fighting communication issues is a daily commitment for us and every other married couple. And sadly, a lot of us fail at that commitment and the fallout is often tragic and far-reaching. 

Communication and miscommunication are serious matters in a relationship and so should be present in all fictional depictions of them. Furthermore, isn’t it nice to read a book with the realism of miscommunication but also the comfort of knowing you’re heading to a happy ending? In reality, it doesn’t always happen. It’s nice to get it in our romance reading. 

What do you think? Does the Miscommunication Trope make you crazy or give you the feels? Comment below to join the discussion. And while you’re here, be sure to stop on my CONTACT page and sign up to receive June’s newsletter for a chance to win the monthly prize.