{Coffee with Kara}: Everyone loves a trope!

Tropes in fiction are very popular, especially in romance. In fact, nearly every book on the market has some form of a trope in it. But, what exactly is a trope? According to Merriam-Webster online, a trope is defined as “a common or overused theme or device.”

Now, you’re probably wondering why on earth something that’s “common” or “overused” could possibly be a good thing. Well, because fiction tropes have proven time and again to be successful. Think about it: when you’re shopping for a book or looking for a movie to watch, when you read the description, certain aspects stand out that might interest you–those are the tropes!

If you Google “romance tropes” or “horror tropes” or any genre + tropes, you’ll get tons of websites that list all the various types of tropes. I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to list my top 3 favorite tropes, explain what they are, and why I think they work so well.

  1. Love Triangle. This is when one character is in love / attracted to two other characters and throughout the story, s/he must choose. And I know so many people roll their eyes at this one, but I’m a sucker for a good love triangle. The built-in conflict and emotions with this trope are fantastic! Here’s the caveat, though—for me, this only works well in YA. At that age, teens are often experiencing love for the first time, they’re struggling with understanding their emotions, and they make a lot of mistakes.

    Anaiah doesn’t currently have a love triangle book, but I would absolutely love to find one. Hint. Hint.
  2. Enemies to Lovers. This is when the two main characters dislike each other for whatever reason and are then consistently thrown together throughout the book, usually because of work or school or friends-in-common. Through these forced interactions, they realize that they actually like each other, and then a romance develops. With this particular trope, because there is instant dislike between the characters, there is also often a lot of really fun snark and banter, which I love! Our author, Julie Arnold did this extremely well in her book Nothing Ventured. In this book, the two main characters don’t know each other prior to meeting, but then they realize they’re not only neighbors, but that they own competing tree farms! It’s immediate distrust and dislike.
  3. Forced Proximity. Most often seen in romantic suspense, this is when the two characters are forced to stay together for an extended period of time for reasons beyond their control–snowed in, going into hiding because they’re being chased by bad guys, etc. Can you imagine the tension of being forced to stay with someone you barely know? Or someone you do know but maybe don’t like….or like a little too much? Laurie Wood’s Northern Deception and Jennifer Pierce’s Expecting Danger use this trope, and they both do it so well.

    In Laurie’s book, the two main characters knew each other year’s prior, and due to circumstances, they’re forced together when the heroine is injured. To complicate matters, the hero has a young daughter, and the heroine has no idea where the girl’s mom is.

    In Jennifer’s book, the widowed heroine is very pregnant and on the run. When she encounters a trustworthy and helpful man, they’re thrown together for quite some time.

The thing to remember about tropes is that they work–readers love them, and they sell well. But to stand out, take the trope and flip it on its head, make it different somehow, like the examples I mentioned above.

Sound off in the comments and tell me what some of your favorite tropes are!

One thought on “{Coffee with Kara}: Everyone loves a trope!

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