Several of my recent writer and author dish sessions have revolved around the discussion of tropes. Tropes are everywhere— in books, movies, and TV shows. The reason why people are drawn to some stories and repelled by others often comes down to the tropes they love and hate. One of my author friends loves forced proximity, and another is a fan of marriage of convenience. I got to thinking about my favorite romance tropes. Some have my childhood imprinting psychology written all over them, while others came as a surprise.
Love Triangle. I write them, I read them, I binge watch them. This one appeals to me especially when it’s one girl pursued by two boys. It’s the refreshing opposite of two girls fighting over a boy, the endless Betty and Veronica and Archie saga. The girl at the center of these triangle constructions usually possesses qualities that are traditionally touted as man repellants. She’s often headstrong, or ambitious, or eschews trappings of superficial glamour. Yet she gets to be the desired one, she gets to choose which partner she wants. And it’s in the choosing that she explores and discovers what’s really important to her.
Examples of the love triangle trope: theTwilight series by Stephenie Meyer and the Summer series by Jenny Han.
Forbidden Love. Age gap, power, societal, political taboo, I dig them all. It’s the thrill, the rebellion, the triumph of love over expectations. A person has to really believe in their own happiness and their care for another person to pursue something relentlessly against such external pressure. All admirable qualities in my book.
Examples of the forbidden love trope: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
One Night Stand aka Lust to love. What’s not to like? Finding someone you want to have hot sex with. The sex being better and hotter than you ever imagined. With no games, no complications, no time wasted. Let’s make it last forever.
Examples of the one night stand trope: Liberating Lacey by Anne Calhoun and Lick by Kylie Scott.
Fake Relationship. I only recently figured out that this is a trope I like. Usually the motivations for the fake relationship are ones I can relate to, such as saving face in front of an ex, or needing moral support for a requisite ego-crushing event. It also helps that there’s a baseline attraction to begin with that simmers into a boil over the course of the story. Two people who otherwise wouldn’t have considered each other reveal sides of themselves they’ve never shown anybody else.
Examples of the fake relationship trope: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han and The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa.
Tortured Hero. Even better if both parties are damaged in some way and rescue each other. They’re trying to find either someone who’s well-adjusted enough to handle the severity of their trauma, or someone who’s just as haunted and won’t hold it against them. Usually the latter. Plus, the sex in these scenarios is always intense and mind-blowing.
Examples of the tortured hero trope: Release Me by J. Kenner and Bared toYou by Sylvia Day.
What are some of your favorite tropes and why?