What is a romance novel trope? I’m using the word “trope” to mean “a commonly recurring literary device.” It’s a situation that is seen in romantic fiction and is instantly recognizable to a romance reader. An avid reader has her favorite and most hated tropes. I know that I like the Plain Jane trope and I avoid love triangle tropes.
Remember that a trope is not a theme. A theme is the underlying message of the story. A romance novel theme could be “love conquers all” or “there’s no place like home”.
Not sure which trope you would prefer? Consider your favorite fairy tale.
Cinderella is not just an orphan and a downtrodden maid. She is the heroine in a rags-to-riches story. If you like the story of the innocent Red Riding Hood facing a big bad wolf, then look for the good girl/bad boy romances. The Beauty and the Beast fairy tale is about a captive woman who falls for a cursed and monstrous man. If you can’t get enough of those stories, look for romances that involve tortured heroes.
Sometimes it will take you a while to find out why you like a trope. Let’s say you like the story about the Prince and the Pauper. That’s a mistaken identity trope. If you look for romance stories that deal with mistaken identities, you will discover that some deal with the being at the wrong place at the wrong time scenario or the girl disguised/mistaken as a man situation. Through trial and error, you may realize that what you really enjoy are the twins switching places stories.
Once you find an interesting trope from your favorite fairy tale, it’s time to branch out. Look at your most cherished romantic movies or even the fictional couples you think are or should be in a romantic relationship. You’ll find your favorite and most hated tropes in no time.
Do you have a favorite trope?