in defense of the special snowflake trope

In Defense of the “Special Snowflake” Trope

The “special snowflake” trope is one that we are faced with repeatedly as readers. It’s when the main character has something extra special and unique about them. For instance, Harry Potter has that connection to Lord Voldemort and is “the boy who lived.” Oftentimes this trope is complained about, so I am stepping up to defend it.

What’s the point of most stories? 

If you go back back back back back to when stories were first told and written, they were usually told because something spectacular happened in them or someone spectacular was a part of them. I mean, think of the freaking Bible. Jesus is quite a special snowflake, don’t you think?

We don’t want to read a story about how Average Joe went to the grocery store and then went home. Why would there be a story about him? He doesn’t warrant one.

Special Snowflake Joe warrants a story being told about him, because Special Snowflake Joe goes to the grocery store, trips on some bread, then discovers he has magical powers that allow him to alter the world around him. This new power prevented him from falling. Then his story unravels and ultimately he saves the world.

I get that it gets old…

I know that sometimes it just isn’t done well or it just feels like a tired trope. But keep in mind that at the end of the day, Special Snowflakes are what stories are made of!

 


What are you thoughts on this trope? What are some of your favorite/least favorite tropes?

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22 comments

  1. Finally someone coming to defend the special snowflakes!
    And in such a funny and ‘right and to the point’ way (:
    *applause*
    This post was great.
    Without special snowflakes, what would we have? Not to mention, there are all sorts of special snowflakes. They don’t necessarily have to *save the world*. They could do all sorts of things with what makes them… well, special.
    And, well, I never believed a trope is “too used”. What makes a story truly great is its characters and plot. It can be about whatever, as long as the characters and plot draw you in.
    And, well… we have to admit: deep inside, we all hope we’re special snowflakes (:

    1. Yes! I agree- I definitely hope that I’m a special snowflake 😀 (though I 100% know that I am not XD)

  2. I only half agree with this. You make a good pont, and I don’t disagree, exactly, but I also think it’s nice to read about totally normal people who end up doing amazing things DESPITE being totally normal. And Harry always felt that way to me. He never acted entitled or elitist, and I love that about him.

    1. Yes, I totally agree! I love when completely normal people do amazing things (and that makes them somewhat of a special snowflake, I guess? just not one with magical powers). But yes, sometimes we need magical special snowflakes and sometimes we just need normal, awesome people!

  3. I agree. The point of some stories (more true in some genres than others, of course) is that they’re about someone unusual. If your novel is about someone saving the world, of course the person isn’t average! Even if they’re an “Everyman” who “just happens” to save the world, I think they end up being someone special…because they saved the world. That’s not something most people do. I just don’t want to read only stories about special snowflakes, which is why it’s good there are a lot of books in the world!

    Even when books are about “ordinary people,” they’re often about unusual things happening to them (not always, obviously). But I think of Jennifer E. Smith and Stephanie Perkins who write kind of “wish fulfillment YA” in my opinion, about Americans who go to boarding school in France and fall in love, or people who meet and fall in love with celebrities, etc. The character might not be “special,” but their life circumstances are!

    1. Yes! No matter what angle your story takes – it usually results in a special circumstance or special someone. That’s why the story is being told at the end of the day, right!? But yes, thank goodness there are all sorts of genres, so we don’t always have to read about snowflakes XD

      1. The one thing that really got me about Tamora Pierce’s books is that, over the series, all the special snowflakes end up knowing each other. Which I suppose is actually logical, but it gets kind of ridiculous across series. Even the one character’s ancestor from hundreds of years ago is special!

    1. I was thinking about what to comment when I saw this. I think this is what makes the difference. There are so many ‘special snowflakes’ in books, and usually, what makes us love some and despise others is their human side that balances out the snowflakeness. For example. for Harry, there is his friends, for Katniss, there is here family… Something that doesn’t make them all about how special they are.

  4. Cute post!! When I think Special Snowflake, I more think about those girls that EVERY SINGLE GUY in the book is in love with. Or like Rory from the Gilmore Girls, who has the whole town telling her how awesome she is. Or when all the other girls in the book are TERRIBLE just that the M/C can look SO GREAT.

    1. OMG YES. RORY GILMORE IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF AWFUL SPECIAL SNOWFLAKES.

      And I say that with love as someone that obsessively rewatches Gilmore Girls. But, I do it for the supporting cast. Rory is a nauseating special snowflake who seems to fully believe she is a sepcial snowflake and somehow deserving of everyone’s support and adoration. And if someone is as smart as her, they mustn’t be as pretty… or if they are as pretty or prettier they must be dumb… annoying.

      1. I didn’t know this about the Girlmore Girls! I’ve seen some episodes, but never have watched enough to know much about Rory. I TOTALLY assumed it was the opposite case with her. Knowing that about her character makes me want to watch it more now, because it seems like it’d be such an irritating character trait, that the rest of everything MUST be good to have so many fans. I’d be curious to see how I felt about it.

    2. Yes, I think special snowflakes come in all varieties! Those are special snowflakes, too. Those ones are a little more irritating XD

  5. I don’t have issue with the Special Snowflake Trope in and of itself – especially if you look at it broadly as basically just any character who has something unique to them. It certainly is often key to making the story worthwhile. What would be the point of the Harry Potter books focusing on anyone else when Harry is the one with the Voldemort connection? Many of the characters in Anne of Green Gables are likeable, but it’s Anne’s unique perspective and imagination that makes her fascinating as the focus of the stories.

    However, there is a line. There is a line that can be crossed from “different and special in an interesting and story propelling way” into “different for the sake of being different that doesn’t actually contribute to appeal of the story – and possibly actually takes away from it”. Usually this line, for me, is crossed when it’s just TOO MUCH special.
    When the special snowflake is gorgeous, brilliant, well liked, and possesses special talents, and, and, and… I start rolling my eyes and losing interest 😉 There has to be some grounding to the special snowflake.

    I agree, a “special snowflake” is really kind of required for a story to be worth telling. But I need the character to be realistic. I can’t think of a particular example… possibly because I’m rolling into hour 12 of an overnight ICU shift… possibly because those books annoy me and I have trashed them from my memory bank 😉 The only time I can put up with an excessive application of specialness is in a trashy romance novel… because lets be honest, I’m not reading those for character development ;D

    (ooo, I know one time I started to roll my eyes at a character…. Twilight. I enjoyed reading the books, but Bella was a bit insufferable for me. Also, almost every character in the Lux series is a special snowflake and it is over kill and while I actually loved the first book, but the 4th I wanted to pitch them all over a cliff… gets old fast when you are basically perfect AND special 😉 )

    1. Hahahhaha. Yes, Bella was definitely a special snowflake. And I agree, they need to have some good flaws or else they’re super duper annoying. I had heard good things about the Lux series, but never had read them myself. LOL @ wanting to pitch them all over a cliff!! Well I hope that your ICU shift ended well! (:

      1. Maybe if I hadn’t read Lux #1 – 3 right back to back I would have not grown to hate it. I loved the first one, MC loves books and blogging! But I found that the books kept repeating the same basic plot devices… no matter what happened the reactions of the characters were all the same, and always SO DRAMATIC. It started to get ridiculous :/

        ..but then I waited months before reading #4, and still I couldn’t care about the characters any more.

  6. It’s like you said towards the end. Sometimes it’s not done well…at all. And that’s what puts me off. But most of the time, I guess I don’t really notice it. I read the book to enjoy it and like you said, special snowflakes keep things interesting. I think sometimes authors try to overdo it and that’s when it falls flat for me. Other than that, I don’t mind 🙂
    Genesis @ Latte Nights Reviews