Know that if you click on the link below it will take you to the most wonderful and most terrible website in the entire universe. Do you dare? Oh, what? You want a little background first? Ok. (chicken)
Basically what the dastardly users of this site have done is catalog every single commonly used literary and dramatic trope they could find and illustrated them with copious examples. Stock characters. Standard plotlines. Common themes. It's all here and it's absolutely exhaustive. Seriously, you could spend days on this site.
Ready now? Ok, go here. Keep in mind this link takes you only to the tropes for Post-Apocalyptic stuff, but you should definitely explore it all. Sci-Fi. Fantasy. Action/Adventure. Dive in!
Now, why is it wonderful and horrible?
Well, it is living proof that the struggle for a real honest to goodness original idea is more uphill than ever, heck it may not even be possible anymore. I know I found plenty of characters and situations in here that are in my book and I bet you will too. It's definitely a little disconcerting to see the product of your long hours of sweat and toil laid out with proof that all of it has been done before.
But the thing is, and this is what I think is wonderful about it, presented with such overwhelming proof that pretty much everything has been done is, well, it's sort of freeing right? You don't have to reinvent the wheel. If your favorite writers have used these tropes, and used them to great effect, then maybe it's all just about what you bring to it--how you mix and match ideas, play around with them, tweek them. Maybe a fun challenge is taking a tried and true idea, something that's been done a million times, and doing it in a way only you would do it. Maybe that's what originality is now.
What tropes have I got in my book? Well, I've got me a Depopulation Bomb and some Disaster Democracy . Oh, if you're looking for a couple good Armor Piercing Questions you'll find them in my book. I definitely have the Action Girlfriend. Hmm, wait, maybe she's actually the Cute Bruiser...
Ok people. Take a look and cop to it in the comments. What tropes are in your book? An Amulet of Concentrated Awesome perhaps? Maybe the Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults? Do your characters at any time have Tea with Cthulhu?