Morning, all! This week I wanna talk about tropes, and forgive me our non-romance readers, but this concerns romantic tropes, since that’s what I tend to write and read. 

When I was at RWA Nationals, I had a fun discussion with a group of other authors about tropes and the ones we love, no matter how many times they are done – as long as they are written well. 

First off, let’s define what a trope is.  According to Webster’s Dictionary, a trope is a “common or overused theme or device,” essentially, a cliché.   The word cliché has a negative connotation, but it’s hardly a bad thing, especially in Romance.  After all, there are no new stories under the sun; just a variance on how we present them.  And there are tropes that will draw me in almost every single time.  Maybe there’s a comfort level that pulls me in – I go in knowing, in general, what I’m going to get.  Or maybe it’s that I’ve read one book in a particular trope that rocked my world, and I’m eager to find something similar.

Still not sure what I’m talking about?  Here are some examples that have been done over and over again, yet readers still flock to them:

  • Marriage of Convenience
  • The Secret baby
  • The best friend/little sister romance
  • Werewolves, Vampires, Panthers (falls in love with human)
  • Dystopians
  • Arranged Marriages
  • Friends to lovers
  • Enemies to lovers
  • The love triangle
  • Billionaire boss/secretary
  • Ward/governess
  • May/December Romance
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Reunion/falling in love with an ex
  • Teacher/student

Some of these make us smile, others make us groan, and then there are the ones that make us do a little bit of both (can we say guilty pleasures?)

While most of these would work for NA, some of the most obvious favorites for this category would be the professor/student, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, the sham relationship, and the love triangle.  And I love reading almost every single one of them, when done well. 

A great resource for seeing tropes that have been done, overdone, and explored way too many times, and also a tool for generating some fresh ideas is Television Tropes and Idioms, which is a wiki which considers itself “catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction.” Many of the women I talked to at Nationals cited this as a great source for generating fresh ideas by seeing what’s been done – just be careful, you can get lost in there for hours. 

So, what are some of your favorite tropes?  Are there any you just can’t stand?  Are there any you love to hate and hate to love?  Better yet, are you writing a story right now that has one of these tropes? 

I’d love for you to share.  Did I not list a trope you love? Please share those, too.  The more ideas, the better. 


Be sure to check out the post below for our new Featured Book of the Month.  

 And don’t forget, this Wednesday we’re having a NA pitch contest with editor Libby Murphy from Entangled publishing! Click the link to read the details and get those pitches ready!