candyheartsRomance tropes—commonly occurring themes, devices, or *gasp* clichés—get a bad rap outside of romance reading circles…and often, even inside of them. I’ll admit, sometimes tropes that are blatantly highlighted in the cover art or title make me cringe. But the tropes themselves, the hooks or the romance premise? If they’re done well and made to feel organic to the characters and the plot, they can add an extra dose of depth and, well, yumminess to the story. Sometimes I love me a good romance trope.

As an author, when I’m coming up with story ideas for a particular set of characters (which I always come up with first), sometimes going “trope shopping” can help spark ideas for my plot. I have a list of tropes and hooks that I’ve gathered over the years, and I often pull it out to see if anything flashes neon lights to me as needing to be added to my story.

Revenge plot line? Amnesia? Pregnancy? Bad boy or girl? Marriage of convenience? Mistaken identity? Secrets?

Just reading through the possibilities makes my storytelling brain kick into gear. And I’ll admit, there are certain tropes that, when alluded to or mentioned outright in the back cover copy, make me choose to buy or read a particular book over another.

My favorites? In no particular order, my 5 Favorite Romance Tropes are:

Reunion—When the hero and heroine were involved in the past and have been apart due to…something. Hopefully something Big and Juicy. Something that can’t be solved with a single conversation. Something that makes them dig deep within and decide that the conflict that was strong enough to pull them apart before is…not strong enough to keep them apart now. The payoff after years of history…good stuff!

Friends to Lovers—If it’s set up well enough that we can believe there’s a good reason these two never got together in the past, then watching two friends cross the line into love that has the power to last for a lifetime is rewarding and scrumptious.

Man in Uniform—Military heroes are my favorite, but I love firefighters as well (which is why I wrote seven of them). Sometimes a good cop story will do it, too. Watching these alpha/macho guys fall for a suitable (or sometimes unsuitable) woman…swoon-worthy.

Friend’s Brother (or Sister)—My favorite is when the crush on the best friend’s brother dates back to adolescence. Watching characters and feelings that evolve from an idealistic teenage crush to lasting adult love, especially if the best friend isn’t all in favor, for some reason gives me shivers. Good ones.

Lone wolf hero (or heroine)—Most lone wolf characters have a tortured past that has caused them to isolate themselves. I love seeing the walls come down at the hands (or other body parts) of the other character, brick by brick. There’s nothing better than a lost soul being saved by love.

So what about you? Are there any tropes that make a book a must-read for you? Cowboys? Opposites attract? Boss/secretary? Jilted bride or groom? Quest? Fake engagement? Anyone have a top 5 to share?

photo credit: “It is not true we have only one life to love, if we can read, we can live as many lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.” ― S.I. Hayakawa via photopin (license)

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12 Responses to Trope-a-licious

  1. Mary Hughes says:

    Hi, Amy,

    Ooh, those are luscious! I don’t know if it is a trope, but I’m always up for wounded hero with a secret being healed by the heroine, first in body, then gradually in soul and heart.

  2. Cool post. There are a lot of tropes that I like, but two of my favorites are marriage of convenience and fake relationship that turns real.
    Jennifer Estep`s last blog was …Cold Burn of Magic, Black Blade #1, up for pre-order …

    • Amy Knupp says:

      Jennifer, I’d agree, especially on the fake relationship that turns real. And if the setup of the marriage of convenience is done well…yep! I’m in on that as well. 🙂

  3. Edie Ramer says:

    Amy, this is great. Reading this, I got an idea of a future book with a ‘hero’ type, only I thought of a great twist. And you didn’t mention the Cinderella trope. I’ve used that in a couple of books, but always with a twist. But I won’t read the books that say “Billionaire series.” If that’s the main thing – that he’s rich and she’s poor – I don’t want to read it. But if she’s desperate, that might make me want to read it. Also, what’s with the new “can’t go out with the best friend’s sister” thing I’ve been seeing in books lately? Did someone recently make it up and other romance authors think, “That’s a great idea; I think I’ll use that in a book”? Or is that something that Barney Stinson said in “How I Met Your Mother?” So far, I’ve avoided reading those books, too. That’s not a conflict that draws me in.

    • Amy Knupp says:

      Edie, Cinderella is another good one. I’ve not written that yet but you make me kind of want to. 🙂 (Although maybe there were elements of it in Because of the List…hmmm.)

      I’m not turned off by billionaire stories or rich boy/poor girl, though they aren’t my favorite. The brother/sister thing though…I think those stories are the richest if the crush dates back to adolescence when the little sister (or older brother) would really, truly have been a no-no. Or when the character/personality of the brother is such that he is a protector to an extreme, and maybe his friend, the hero, has a history of treating women, well, not the way you’d want your little sister to be treated. So when he falls for little sister, big brother’s instinct is to protect her from his buddy so she doesn’t get hurt…but then of course because it turns out to be true love, the buddy with the less-than-stellar woman history falls hard and treats her like a princess, the way big brother knows she deserves to be treated.

      I’m ready to start a new story now. Thank you. (LOL unfortunately, I still have a few thousand words of the current project to finish…and then the one after that…and the one after that!)

      • Edie Ramer says:

        Wow, I love the characters you thought of! You should go with it. Maybe in the book after the next three. Of course, by then you might have another three plots to write. You need to get going!

        • Amy Knupp says:

          Tell me about it! I’m at that point in my current story when…ANY other story sounds more fun and easier. 😉 I’ll get there though.

  4. Hi Amy! Your favorites are mine, too. I also love Boy/Girl Next Door. 🙂
    Robin Bielman`s last blog was …Hall Pass Event

  5. Amy, I love reunion stories, too! And the lone wolf one (which is why the hero of my Tudor series is exactly that :))
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