Tag Archives: tropes in romance novels

#LASR #SaturdaySeven

Romance tropes are fun to read. Truly. I mean, who doesn’t love a secret baby, or a Women in jeapodary story? Things are tired and true for a reason, folks!

So, in no order, here are my seven favorite romance tropes to read:

  1. Second Chances. There’s really something so powerful about giving someone a second chance at anything: life; health; love. These stories take a relationship that failed – for whatever reason – and then allows that relationship to bloom anew. The h/h don’t have to start where they left off – and really, shouldn’t. A new day and a new depth to their love evolves. Truly, Madly, Yours by Rachel Gibson is a good example of this trope.
  2. A marriage of Convenience. Even though this trope gets used a bunch in historicals, it can also be used in contemporary’s if written the right way. The Weekday Brides series by Catherine Bybee and The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst are good modern day depictions of this trope. 
  3. Friends to Lovers. The first book I read with this trope was Emma by Jane Austen. Emma and Mr. Knightly are social friends, having known each other for years. When their friendship takes a wrong turn and then a right one to love, well, all I can say is that Austen was a master of romance writing for a reason.  In my own book. There’s No Place Like Home, I have two friends, Moira and Quentin,  use this trope. There’s something so wonderful about falling in love with your best friend! you share a lifetime of past memories, being with the other person is comfortable, and the love that blossoms is familiar. Love that!
  4. Opposites Attract. Who doesn’t love when two people who on paper seem so wrong for one another are in reality so perfect! Prime examples of this trope that are really good depictions are Bet Me, by Jennifer Cruise and Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas 
  5. Fake relationship. Lovelovelove this one! A good explanation of this trope ( but not the only one!) a girl’s been recently dumped by her boyfriend ( or she dumped him) and now needs a date to a wedding so she doesn’t look like the only girl in her crowd without a significant other. Good examples of this trope are Julie James’  A Lot like Love and Slow Heat by Jill Shalvis
  6. Enemies to lovers. A prime example of this trope is both the h/h want the same thing, say a job. They are each vying for it, trying to outdo the other, hating that the other exists. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne is perfect for this trope.
  7. On-the-Run ( aka Women in Jeopardy) Anytime a guy has to protect the girl and take her on the run to do so well, that story is just rife with lots of sexual tension and intrigue. I used this trope with my Will Cook For Love novel, book 2 A Shot At Love.


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Are you driven by plot? And I don’t mean in the literal way…

Plot driven stories are just that: stories that are fundamentally about the…wait for it…Story.

The world is going to blow up unless the hero can save it and defeat the evil scientist. The largest diamond in the world has been stolen and the heroine needs to get it back. An island volcano in the Pacific Ocean is primed to blow and destroy half the world. Who or what can stop it? There’s a contagion on the rampage killing off half the world’s population.

All of these stories are plot driven. Something is going to happen ( or already has) and something needs to be done about it. There’s a lot of action, a lot of external maneuvering of the cast of characters, and hopefully a resolution of the problem in the end. There isn’t what you find in character driven stories – namely the deep internal conflicts, the emotional descriptions and the development of internal/external changes of the main characters.

The easiest way for me to remember the difference between character driven and plot driven stories is this way: In character driven stories, the people ( characters ) change. In plot driven stories the outcomes change, such as, potential earth destruction is now world peace.

Okay, that example was a little corny, but appropriate for this discussion.

In romance, plot driven books are usually the old standard lines, called tropes.  Tropes are  familiar or recurrent themes in stories.  For romances, some – but not all – include: Marriage of convenience, a surprise baby,  damsel in distress, opposites attract, love triangles. Writer Romy Sommer did a great piece on listing romance tropes in an article from 2012, that you can read by clicking on the link with her name. Suffice it to say that any  number of tropes can be categorized as being plot driven. So even in romance, plot can be the motivator for the story.

Before I wrote romance novels I wrote mystery and suspense. These books were totally plot driven. I would come up with the idea first and then get my characters to join in the fun.  I always had to keep the ultimate goal in the forefront of my brain, though,  because it was too easy to start slipping in the emotions and desires of the characters. I needed to save the world, not the individual characters! Once I made the switch to romantic fiction, I was able to do what I loved doing and wish I could have done with the other books: delve into the characters.

Plot drive books have a lot of action. They need to because SOMETHING needs to propel the book forward and keep you turning the pages. Action adventure movies are typically plot driven. Not a great deal of time or effort is put into developing the characters. Instead, the big money is spent on the special effects and the blowing up of things. By the way, I know that last sentence sounds a little snarky,but it’s not meant to be. I actually enjoy action adventure movies. I just don’t enjoy reading them as much as watching them.

So if you’re basically a plot driven writer, good for you!  Keep that action flowing, save the universe and defeat the bad guys.  Or, if you’re plot driven and you write romance, make that surprise baby REALLY a surprise – even to the mom! Save that damsel from the international jewel theft ring. Make those two opposite personalities have to marry to save the family business. Just don’t forget that the ultimate goal once you have written all that is for the happily ever after.


Filed under Characters