Writing Tips: Five Tropes to Include in Your Romance Novels (Or Any Novel, Really)

Hey guys! Here’s another Valentine’s Day edition post! I thought it was about time (actually, past time) for another Writing Tips! I honestly can’t even remember when I posted the last one, but I know it was a long time ago, haha! So here is the newest edition to the series! I will be discussing, as the title says, five tropes you can write about in your romance novel, or pretty much any novel, since there’s almost always a romantic subplot going on. I’ve listed them off in order of my least favorite to most favorite. Take a look!

5. Fake Dating

Examples: The Upside of Falling, a number of Hallmark movies

Fake Dating is definitely not my favorite, but I like it better than a lot of other romance tropes. It’s exactly what it sounds like; two characters faking that they’re in a relationship. I’ve seen it in Hallmark movies so much that it’s kinda gotten old for me, but honestly this can be really fun to write!

With this you obviously have to find a reason for the characters to be faking it. Is it to impress Person A or Person B’s parents? In the book The Upside of Falling by Alex Light the main character Becca starts up a fake relationship with Brett so that her mother and friend will get off her back about her dating. Meanwhile, Brett goes along with being her fake boyfriend to make his parents happy. While I wasn’t a fan of this book (at all), it was a pretty good example.

4. Opposites Attract

Examples: Beauty and the Beast

This one, for whatever reason, reminds me of the number one trope of the list, though I’m not exactly sure why. As the other tropes on this list, this one’s pretty self explanatory. This one, Person A and Person B are NOTHING alike. They have different interests, dislikes, ambitions, personalities, etc. Basically, they’re opposites in every way. But does that stop them from getting together? Of course not!

This one has to be done really well in order for me to like it. There has to be actual chemistry between the characters. If it isn’t working out with them together and you’re forcing them, it’ll show and it won’t make the readers want to root for them. Create characters who, although they are opposites, actually do attract each other! This can be a lot of fun!

3. Pre-established Relationship

Examples: Final Fantasy 15, Heroes of Olympus

I don’t see this trope as much as I’d like. In fact, I had a hard time coming up with examples to name. One thing I get annoyed about is that most of the time there is a pre-established relationship (and when I say this, I don’t mean marriage necessarily, but already dating or engaged, but marriage is included) the characters end up breaking up. I really don’t like that aspect in Hallmark movies (you know what I’m talking about!), and I often express my wish that the characters that are initially dating/engaged at the start of the movie are the characters that stay together in the end. Just for once PLEASE!

I loved reading The Queen of Nothing from Holly Black’s Folk of the Air trilogy, since by this book Jude and Cardan are married. That may not count as a pre-established relationship since it is a series, but I’ll mention it anyway. Although their relationship is rocky, with Jude being the ambitious girl that she is, and Cardan being, well, Cardan. It certainly doesn’t get any easier through the book either. But what I loved about it is how, after hating each other so badly in the beginning of the series, they stayed together. That’s what I want to see more of in pop culture! Pre-established relationships with characters that actually stay in the relationship!

2. Friends to Lovers

Examples: Star Wars Rebels, Every Other Weekend, Voltron: Legendary Defender

I love a good friends to lovers! Of course, if it can be done good! In order to properly enjoy this trope, I really love to be invested in the characters’ relationship as friends first, because odds are by then I’m probably shipping them already if I’m being honest! That is, if I like them together as more than friends, of course.

How does this trope work? Well, it’s pretty straightforward. Basically the characters meet in the book – or had already met before the events of the book – and go from being friends to something more. Simple, right? Well let’s take a look at something that I believe did this very, very well; Star Wars Rebels.

Here we have ex-Jedi Kanan and a Twi’lek pilot, Hera. When Rebels came out, it was clear that their relationship ran very deep, perhaps already heading into romantic territory, as they constantly behaved as though they were a married couple. How the two met was later revealed in the book A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, and from there their relationship flourished. One thing I loved about how their relationship was done in the TV show was how they took it slow. If I remember correctly, by the fourth season of Rebels (the season they FINALLY became more than friends), they had known each other for quite a few years. Not only that, but the show itself took it slow. We only ever got tiny hints that they might get together in the end and it constantly kept us guessing.

That’s what I love to see in a friends to lovers trope!

1. Enemies to Lovers

Examples: The Folk of the Air, Star Wars, Final Fantasy 8

This is my FAVORITE romance trope. I LOVE it! In fact, it is a trope that is a favorite for a lot of people! But if you want to include this trope you have to be careful. People won’t like it at all if you do it wrong!

How would you do this wrong, you might ask? Well, making things go to fast, for one. I think The Folk of the Air series did this a bit, and that’s why the first book is definitely not my favorite. Basically, if Person A hates Person B’s guts, then in a couple of chapters in they suddenly love each other, it’s just not going to work. Maybe it will for some people, but believe me when I say slow-burn is the best burn. If you want to write enemies to lovers, you’ve got to take it very slowly, and actually give them reasons to fall in love.

Another way it could go wrong is that sometimes there’s no reason for the enemies part. When writing enemies to lover, ask yourself why these character are enemies in the first place. Did something happen in their past? Are they rivals? They can’t hate each other for nothing! This can be fun too, because you might get some plot ideas!

So that’s it! There are a ton more tropes, and if you’d like to see more Writing Tips talking about them, let me know which ones! I had a lot of fun with this post, and really, it was supposed to come out last week so I wasn’t scrambling to get the last of my February posts out. But then Texas said “hello” winter storm Uri, and that plan went down the drain… ANYway, all’s well that ends well!

As always, God bless y’all and have a wonderful rest of the week!

6 thoughts on “Writing Tips: Five Tropes to Include in Your Romance Novels (Or Any Novel, Really)

  1. Changing Our Hearts!

    This is great! I am terrible at writing relationships, and while I don’t have a dating relationship, but they’re already married, I feel as if it is BORINGGGG! Thanks so much for sharing, definitely will help me in the second part of my book!

    Liked by 1 person

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