News & Updates
Feb 20, 2023

Laterpress Tournament of Tropes: Round 1

Vote for your favorite tropes in the first Laterpress community event of 2023!

Nate Gillick
Nate Gillick
Person about to start running

The Laterpress Tournament of Tropes begins now! Inspired by “March Madness,” our first community event of 2023 features 20 books from independent authors, representing 40 different tropes, all facing off in a bracket where readers and authors alike can vote for their favorites. What trope will walk away with the crown?

You can view the full bracket HERE.

Read on to learn more about the tropes doing battle today, and if you like them, check out the book representing them! Laterpress is not using affiliate links for this community event. All proceeds from any sales go directly to the authors!

When can I vote?

Mark your calendars! All voting rounds begin at 1pm Eastern, and close at 11am Eastern on the day the next voting round begins. 

Round 1 - NOW, continue reading! 

Round 2, Part 1 - Friday, February 24

Round 2, Part 2 - Monday, February 27

Round of 16 - Friday, March 3

Round of 8 - Monday, March 6

Round of 4 - Friday, March 10

Championship - Monday, March 13

‍Round One:

With 40 different tropes lined up in single elimination, Round One is a bit of a “play in” round. Eight tropes will win, eight will be eliminated as we narrow the field down to 32. So, who is moving on, and which tropes are making an early exit? Matchups are presented in the order they appear on the bracket, from top to bottom.

Matchup 1: Breaking the Fourth Wall vs. Mysterious Benefactors

Breaking the Fourth Wall means the story is self-aware enough to know it is a story, and either makes fun of itself or addresses the audience directly. A character may exclaim, “Of all the books I could have been written into, why did it have to be this one? The author’s crazy!” Some cinematic examples of this would be Deadpool or She Hulk.

If you like Fourth Wall breaking meta humor, check out 1001 Episodes to Literary Godhood, by Eldritch Thundergod.

I thought I'd be king of the world on the fiction platform Zella, but when my magnum opus about a telepathic cuttlefish and his pet human flopped, I was desperate for a way to climb the ranks. When I bought a magic lamp at a garage sale and the djinn offered me a wish, I thought I was set. But magic comes with a price, and the $10 I paid didn't count. To ascend to literary godhood, I must write 1,001 episodes with features dictated by authors and readers... while using this stupid pen name. (Published under the name Eldritch Thundergod.)

A Mysterious Benefactor is a character who does a seemingly good deed for someone else, or bestows upon them a gift, while going to great lengths to keep their identity a secret. Unmasking the identity of the benefactor is often a theme in these stories. Are they a force of good steering the main character(s) on the right patch? Was the gift a trojan horse leading to great evin? What was the motivation for the gift? 

If you like mysterious benefactors, check out Anti-Villains: One Night in Harlem, by Andrea Stanet 

In this version of 1938 jazz-era Harlem, Ella Daniels has been down on her luck. At the unemployment office, she meets the mysterious Nathalie who in an act of kindness invites her and two others for a night of séance, self-discovery, and spiritual awakening. The 3 participants have secrets that could threaten their existence. Strange events, the opulence of Nathalie’s home, and the discovery that they can’t leave all convince Ella that the invitations weren’t an act of kindness but something nefarious. The guests become pawns in a battle of wills, deceptions, revelations, and tough choices that threaten to lay the three women, especially Ella, bare.

Matchup 2: Rescue Missions vs. Galactic Empires

With rescue missions, someone is in terrible danger, and it’s up to the main characters to save them. The stakes are high, and there is often a ticking clock. Can the hostages be rescued before they’re executed? Can a pair of hikers on their honeymoon be evacuated from the side of a volcano before it erupts? Can the Coast Guard find survivors of a sinking ship in shark-infested waters? You get the idea.

If you like rescue missions, check out Dead Lands Rescue, by E.R. Zanes

Dangerous exploration into the dark unknown runs in Aer's blood. She's spent her adult life denying it. But when strangers come asking for her help, she's forced to pick up her family mantle and return to the Dead Lands. With cursed, blood-chilling creatures lurking within, survival is anything but guaranteed. Drawn into the old mysteries once again, will she only find familiar pain, or the desperate answers she didn't know she needed?

Galactic Empires are a popular trope in science fiction. A government has become large and almost all-powerful as it expands its influence over many planets. Most of the time, this empire is an antagonistic force that characters have to either struggle to work around, or must fight and defeat. The most famous example of this, no doubt, is the Empire in Star Wars.

If you're in the mood to tangle with a galactic empire, check out On the Outward Edge, by C.P. Night

Her galactic empire is in turmoil. Will her attempts to save it push it to the brink of collapse? Princess Serina is out for revenge. Driven to destroy the rebels who slaughtered her family, she risks her declining health to prioritize her deadly mission. With enemies filling the surrounding shadows, will her faith blind her to the danger?

Matchup 3: “Anything you can do, I can do better,” vs. Lost Knowledge

“Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better,” - A friendly (or perhaps not-so-friendly) rivalry between two characters, characterized by the need to constantly one-up the other person. As TV Tropes puts it: They haven't been everywhere or done everything or met everyone. No. They've just been in more places, done more things, and met more people than you. Whenever you make a statement, they'll be right on your tail with something they've done twice as much.

Need this character dynamic in your life? Check out The Night Rangers, by J. R. Froemling

A Savannah Nights Story (Complete) - The Night Rangers, a top-secret paranormal hunter force for the US Military, is the first, last, and only line of defense between humanity and the monsters of the underworld. Follow Shadow Squad as they track down a new drug called Kiss. In the back alleys of Bogota, the hunters become the prey as they struggle to not become the monsters they hunt.

Lost Knowledge - Knowledge one commonplace is now rare or extinct. This may be because of a cataclysm. Perhaps a spaceship crashed and the survivors don’t have the knowledge or means to reproduce their technology. An evil wizard may have wiped the information from everyone’s minds. Sometimes, rediscovering lost knowledge is core to the story’s plot. Other times, it’s used as a backdrop to explain the current state of the world.

Check out Thomas and the Girl from Another World by E.R. Zanes for an example of the Lost Knowledge trope in action.

It's a universal truth that magic is long gone. Yet everything changes when Thomas meets an impossible girl at the epicenter of a bizarre incident. She's in need of help, especially with the unexpected threats that emerge the moment she arrives. In aiding her, he'll have to leave all he's ever known for a road fraught with relentless pursuers and ancient mysteries that demand resolution.

Matchup 4: Royal Palace Intrigue vs. Arranged Marriages

Royal Palace Intrigue relates to the schemes and maneuvering of royal characters. These high-stakes power games can be played for any number of reasons: politics, power, prestige, money, love, religion, diplomacy, war. Often, there may be a whole combination of reasons in play. With the power and influence royal characters have, the outcomes of their struggles will influence the lives of many innocent people.

Need a story of high drama and intrigue within a royal family? Check out The Stars & Green Magics, by Novae Caelum

Dressa has no wish to be the heir, but she's falling for her sister's betrothed. Two heirs, one kingdom, and with the title comes the bride. When rulers can shapeshift and masquerade as each other, who will rule?

Arranged Marriages are often pairings negotiated by parents on behalf of their children, in which the children have little or no say. Power, prestige, and politics often (but not always) play into the calculus of how a match is made. Does the arrangement succeed and both partners form a deep and loving relationship? Is it a trainwreck where they can’t stand to be around each other?

Ocean of Dreams by Rebecca Ehrick features an arranged marriage.

Esar and Kelsam's quiet life is thrown into disarray by the appearance of two teenagers from another world. One of them has dangerous untrained magic that can rend reality asunder, bringing about the destruction that Esar has seen in his prophetic dreams. But that power might be the only hope for defeating an even more dangerous foe.

Matchup 5: The Never-Ending Quest vs. PTSD

The Never-Ending Quest is much more complicated or difficult than “Go to Point A, obtain Magic Item, Return Home.” These epic quests may take characters across time and space, and take years to accomplish (if a “final victory” is even possible.) The quest may be handed down from one generation to the next, as new heroes carry on the legacy of their forebears. These kinds of quests demand everything from those embarking on them.

In My Celtic Luna by J. R. Froemling, Rolf has this kind of quest on his hands to find his lost love.

Book II of the Immortal Love Saga (Ongoing) - Rolf and Lily saved the day, only to be separated. Rolf pines for his mate and never gives up the hunt to find her. When his father suffers a terrible fate, Rolf is sent on a journey to the Old World to gain him access to Valhalla. In the land of his forefathers, Rolf is gifted a second chance to find happiness when a fiery Celtic witch with a strange birthmark is thrust in his path. Amidst the political dangers of the wolf clans, Rolf must win Lily's heart a second time before it's too late.

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) - A character has survived a traumatizing event in their past, which continues to haunt them to this day. What happened to the character? How is it impacting their life now? Can they get past the trauma, or will it finally destroy them?

PTSD is explored in Joy, by Emily S Hurricane.

Joy. Meaning? A great pleasure or happiness. For Joy DeVries, her great pleasure comes hand-wrapped with secrets and murder.

Matchup 6: Science Wizards vs. Age Gap

Depending on the fictional universe, a Science Wizard is either a character skilled in both the natural sciences and the magic arts, or magic itself is a branch of science, which the character studies with appropriate scientific rigor in hopes of making new discoveries.

Need a Science Wizard in your life? Check out The Magician and the Mechanical Doll, by Gaius J. Augustus

Octavian is a grad student at a top magic university working on Replika, the world's first magic robot with a perpetual power core. But upon activation, Octavian and Replika are thrown into a web of alternate universes. Will Octavian's magic & Replika's brainpower be enough to survive one spine-chilling reality after another?

Age Gap stories feature characters with a large difference in their ages, often to the point it has the potential to make certain social situations awkward. In romances, you may hear lines like “He’s old enough to be your father!” or “You’re kind of robbing the cradle, aren’t you?” Outside of romance, the story may revolve around two characters in very different stages of the life cycle bonding over some shared interest. For example, a man in his seventies teaching a teenager he’s not related to how to fish.

Searching for a sci-fi age gap tale? Check out Good King Lyr, by Novae Caelum

In the far future, interstellar con man Anais Cavere takes the job of his life to impersonate his hero, immortal demigod Barenin Lyr. But his job as contract king to an unstable world takes a dangerous turn when he learns it was his hero who hired him.

Matchup 7: The End of the World vs. Secret Worlds

Which would you rather read about, the end of the world, or the secret world you weren’t aware of?

The End of the World is the setup for post-apocalyptic fiction. Sometime terrible has happened, which brings civilization as we know it to a grinding halt. This event probably wiped out a lot of people. Think pandemics, zombie apocalypses, natural disasters, nuclear war, destructive technology, etc.

In The Beginning of the End by Emily S Hurricane, the only survivors of a pandemic are wolf shifters.

Daphne is the last person on earth...or so she thinks. After a deadly disease wipes out all of humanity, she learns family secrets and must travel across Canada in search of answers to why she survived...and who she really is.

Secret Worlds are whole societies running parallel to our own, in secret. They’ve been there the whole time, if you only knew where to look. The wizarding world of Harry Potter is a secret world, hiding from the Muggles. The John Wick franchise depicts a vast secret brotherhood of assassins, with its own arcane rules and traditions. 

In A Wreck of Witches by Nia Quinn, witches and magical beings hide their talents and do what they can to pass as normal, to avoid upsetting those without magic.

When you're a witch juggling a sentient house and a magical plant nursery, you already think life is about as crazy as it can get. But scary things start happening in my mundane neighborhood when my friend goes missing. It's up to me and my ragtag group of witches—oh, and the ghost dogs—to get things under control before the Unawares figure out magic's real.

Matchup 8: Heists vs. Multiverses

The Heist - Someone has something the characters want, and it’s well guarded. The only way to retrieve it is to break in and steal it. Heist stories often involve lots of planning and setup to understand the defenses guarding the object of desire. There may be many steps that have to be executed perfectly to succeed, with failure anywhere along the way spelling disaster. Think Ocean’s Eleven, or The Italian Job.

Get your heist on with The Office Job, by Edward Eidolon.

Volume 1 Book 1 An odd team of assassins hunts their target across the urban sprawl of everyday America. But is this world real, or something more? Highway shootouts, office building grenade battles, strange doors. The mundane meets the magical in this high-speed thriller where nothing is what it seems.

Multiverses - the idea that there are multiple universes, and it is possible to travel between them. Sometimes these universes are very similar, with slight variations in history (anyone remember the TV show Sliders?). Other times, they might be radically different, with different flora, fauna, and laws of nature. Magic: The Gathering might be the most well-known example of a fantasy multiverse.

If you like Multiverses, check out Welcome to the Nexus, by Nate Gillick

Epic Multiverse Portal Fantasy - A pyromancer, a dryad, and an elven warrior join forces on an epic quest across the multiverse to eliminate an ancient evil.

Good Luck, Have Fun!

Good luck to everyone participating. Let's have some fun! Come back on Friday to see who advanced to the next round, and meet more of our contestants! Round 2 is the round of 32, and will be split into two voting sessions, each containing eight matchups (16 of the 32 tropes).

Want to read more about indie publishing?