Romance novels are often accused of being formulaic. Of being the same story, told often. After all, how many different ways can you tell the story of a girl and a guy (or a guy and a guy, or a were-beast and a girl, depending on the genre you prefer) falling in love and working there way to a happily ever after? My general response to that is, how many different ways are there to make a dress?
The answer of course, is TONS. From choice of fabrics, line, length, cut, style, and level of sophistication, there are a million different ways to make a dress. And is a dress going to be the same old dress, sewn often? No, of course not. Any dress Michael Kors makes is going to be different from Christian Dior, from Jessica McKlintock, from the Gap.
Similarly, there are millions of different ways to tell a love story, because a love story is unique to each individual couple. That said, much like with clothing, there are certain patterns that romance writers follow, called tropes. These tropes are not meant to make the stories the same – but they are recognizable – just as a sundress is from a ballgown. I adore tropes. Certain ones in particular:
Enemies to Lovers
Defined perhaps first and best by Shakespeare in Much ado About Nothing, this is the relationship where two people who have been fighting fervently on opposite sides finally figure out why they have been putting so much energy into their contention. And its great to see the fog clear and the couple finally gets what everyone else has seen for so long.
Friends to Lovers
I adore this plot — if only because it’s the trope that defines my personal love story. When two people who have known each other for so long, finally begin to recognize something more in the other person, well, it’s just adorable.
My favorite example: EMMA by Jane Austen.
Road Trip Romance
Two people, previously unknown to each other – or not well known, at least – make up for that lack by spending every second of every day trying to accomplish one goal: get from point A to point B. Without the distractions of everyday life, this couple can’t help but fall in love.
My favorite example: my latest novel FOLLOW MY LEAD, of course! In stores now!
Marriage of Convenience/Arranged Marriage
Some days I long for the days of arranged marriages. It takes out a lot of uncertainty, a lot of searching, knowing that particular aspect of life will be predetermined. Then again, you marry a stranger, and have to go through the courtship of getting to know someone without being able to walk away. But as a lover of historical romance novels, to watch a couple fall in love within a marriage is particularly sigh-worthy.
My favorite example: THE SHERBROOKE BRIDE, by Catharine Coulter (one of the first romances I ever read!)
So how about you? What are some of your favorite romance tropes? Let us know!
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