This is fun, I admit. Writing Romance can be an amazing process where the rogues are always dashing, the women always spunky and full of comebacks I wish I could use in real life, the sex always good instead of embarrassing or messy.
At the same time I’m rocking out with the plot lines and jumping my characters through hoops to get to each other I’m using tropes. Romance has specific themes, some of them overused and some still fun no matter how many times you read or see them. Here are five more that I could learn to use. Maybe. With extreme caution.
1. The Love Triangle. This trope needs to be killed with fire and the ashes tamped down with salt until it dies a natural death and waits to shamble back out in a few decades. This might be hard for a reader to guess given my sweet attitude here, but it’s not a trope I’m drawn to using myself. It’s a personal peeve, but having the hero or heroine trying to decide between two Great Loves just makes them look like they’re a weak minded little flower. No matter how strong they are in other areas they aren’t strong enough to just say, “Back off for a while so I can figure myself out.” No, it’s all angst and lingering glances and kissing both of them in secret while guilt gnaws at your insides.
Someone’s going to end up exiled to the friendzone or punted to the Convenient New Character For a Rebound and we all know it before you even start with the angst.
If you know of a book that does this trope well tell me in the comments, cause I got nothing.
2. Accidental Pregnancy/Secret Baby. This isn’t so much about the actual plot of keeping a baby secret, it’s more about the portrayal of kids/pregnancy and how badly done it can be. Unless the author has seen a real live child, preferably a baby, at least once please, please leave this one alone. I make an exception for authors who have had a baby, in that case look at old photos or the baby book to refresh your memory.
In badly written pregnancies egg meets sperm and BOOM, she’s conveniently throwing up at just the right time for one Specific Person to notice (because plot!) and surrounded by a Glow. It’s time to birth that tot and she’s gushing such a puddle that even the most clueless old bachelor in the world would be like, “I think you’re having a baby. Just like in the movies! Someone boil some water, quick.” Plots have to be driven, complications have to complicate, sure, but do your homework just like you would with a historical.
For a good (realistic) take on this trope, see Red Lily, the third book in Nora Robert’s In the Garden trilogy.
3. Smoking Hot Billionaire. It might be a truth universally acknowledged that a man with a good fortune is in want of a wife, but there is definitely not a large enough supply of them to drive all these books. This is not Pick-a-Dick Mart with hordes of unattached rich men wandering around waiting for the Right One to meet cute her way into his mansion. Somehow. How does she get through all the security? It’s not like billionaires bump elbows with ordinary people.And, correct me if I’m wrong, people with money like money. So they marry people with (spoiler alert) more money. The power of Love is supposed to make that not matter, but unless the author is really making me buy it my natural cynicism kicks in and I’m not convinced. Knock this trope off for a while, it can hang out with its zombie buddy Love Triangle, and let’s get back to the Smart is Sexy trope. Mmm, hot professors.
Bared to You by Sylvia Day got consistently high reviews from multiple sources using this trope, proving that it can be done.
4. Paranormal Lover/Undead Lover. He may be desperately in love, but that won’t stop him from brooding over the weight of his immortal paranormal status and how it could hurt his lover every few sentences. One might even call it sulking. It might read all dramatic and change the color of his intense eyes depending on his emotional state (what is he, a mood ring?) but imagine being in love with someone like that for real. Ugh, he’d need a smack upside the head every morning just to get him to quit glaring and drink his damn coffee. No thanks.
Let’s start writing paranormals where the main character is all, “Aww yeah, I’m undead. I’m super strong and fast and sparkly and stuff, this is awesome. Have you seen the cool trick my eyes do?”Like Charlaine Harris and her Sookie Stackhouse novels, starting with Dead Until Dark.
5. Vag Magika. This theme has been around romance for decades and is another personal peeve of mine. In general it goes something like this; the Alpha Male/Duke of Dastardly/Man Who Lurves the Ladies has had lots of sex. Like, lots. He knows every trick, has out jaded every jade. Then he meets the saucy, spicy lady who is destined for him (usually she’s a sweet but strong minded virgin, sometimes she’s also had lots of the sex.) He’s sure he can resist falling in real love with her and they do the deed. But he didn’t count on the magic of the vag that is meant for him. The sex is unlike any he’s ever had. He’s reformed immediately, captured by the power of sex when it’s actually making love.
This is another variation on the power of the Right One, and I get why people like to read that. It’s just been done so much, and honestly the idea of sex having that much power over another person’s behavior is kinda creepy. If you’re going to reform your rogue, use the tricks from the best authors who do this and make it about their one true love as a whole person being irresistible. Their heart, mind, soul and body all combined to make him want to change his ways. And since it’s nearly always a guy rogue and girl virgin, let’s gender swap it some more. I’d read the heck out of that.
For a well-written take on this trope with a rake that you truly root for try The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas.
For the list that I used to find tropes for this post, please head over to author Mindy Klasky’s website http://www.mindyklasky.com/index.php/for-writers/romance-tropes/. And to read Brooding YA Hero’s twitter, which is hilarious, try https://twitter.com/broodingYAheroref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor. Brooding YA Hero has a book coming out, but who’s jealous?